Last year’s winter brought Kansas City a lot of snow. This year … not so much. But winter isn’t over, and there’s still a chance that we’ll get a big storm in the weeks ahead. It is only January, after all!
If we DO see some snow, pay close attention to your lawn at the end of the season. A soggy, wet lawn can lead to an ugly disease called snow mold. Snow mold is a fungal disease that makes an appearance in the early spring when the winter snow starts to melt.
There are two types of snow mold: gray snow mold and pink snow mold. Gray snow mold infects the leaf tissue of your grass, whereas pink snow mold attacks the crown. The crown is the part of your grass where blade growth originates … so, if the crown dies, the grass dies, which is why pink snow mold is more dangerous to your lawn than gray snow mold.
Since gray snow mold rarely does any damage, it’s handy to know which one you’ve got. When the snow starts to melt, you may see circular patches of dead grass. If you have a bad case of snow mold, the circles may combine and form a big patch of dead grass.
The best time to examine your lawn for snow mold is right after the snow melts and the ground is still wet. Pink snow mold is obvious because it will have a web-like mycelium (the vegetative part of a fungus) growing on the grass surface that is pink in color. While the ground is still wet, the mycelium is whitish and looks like cobwebs. As the fungus matures, while the ground is still wet, it starts to get a pink color. Once the ground dries out, the mycelium disappears. With gray snow mold, the mycelium stays a grayish color and you will find tiny black masses on the blades of the grass that have been infected.
Snow mold most often develops when snow remains left on ground that is not entirely frozen. Here in Kansas City it usually gets cold enough that the ground freezes sufficiently to prevent lingering snow from becoming a problem. Leftover fall leaves, on the other hand, don’t do you lawn any favors. Wet, compacted fall foliage is just as likely to cause gray and pink snow mold if it’s left on your lawn all winter.
The good news is that curing your lawn of this fungal infection isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds. The long-term damage of snow mold is minimal, so fungicide applications aren’t really necessary. All it takes for your grass to bounce back from a batch of snow mold is a little patience. Once it dries out, the infection will stop spreading and new grass should start coming in. You can help speed up the process by raking the affected area to help it dry faster. If you find significant snow mold, call us right away! We’ll fix your lawn ASAP!