It’s back again! Year after year lawns in Maine experience the same issue after the snowpack melts. Many folks like to call it winter kill but in reality, it is a fungus. The good news is you can prevent damage by ensuring you take a few extra steps in the fall and springtime. Now that we are noticing the snow melting away and any damage from plowing, snowmobiles and other mechanized equipment, we are all getting a good idea of what repairs need to be done. You may notice bleached areas in the dead grass that are laying down flat. More than likely these are the areas that have already experienced the fungus. The damage is already done as far as the fungus is concerned. However, there is one more step you need to take to ensure that this year’s grass shoots come up without a hitch. You’ll need to disrupt the surface of the grass with a rake or some sort of de-thatcher. If you don’t do this then the slimy layer that is leftover from the fungus will dry and harden. This will create a “blanket” of old grass blades that will block out sunlight and oxygen to the roots and crown. It is extremely important that you disrupt this layer before you start noticing the new green shoots coming up. Once you disrupt this layer the shoots will have all the sunlight and airflow they need to return with muscle. If you had our fall fertilization service this last year than there are residual nutrients still left in the soil. This will help the shoots early this spring before your first application. Remember, you will not get even growth and possibly none at all in these areas if you don’t scratch the surface. Some folks experience spots on their lawns that don’t return at all. If this happens than seeding is the only option left. However, in many cases, the snow mold damage isn’t enough to have to worry about. The deciding factor generally is within the variety of grasses in your lawn.
Quick Fact: Snow Mold
[toggle_content title=”What is Snow Mold?”]Snow mold is a fungus that infects cool-season turfgrass. When there are prolonged periods of snowpack covering turf either of two Typhula species, Typhula incarnata and Typhula ishikariensis can damage the grass plants. Pink snow mold and Grey snow mold are the common names of this fungus.[/toggle_content]
What does it do? Both Pink and Gray Snow Mold cause matting of the grass blades. The fungus causes the grass blades to become stuck together appearing slimy until dry. The damage will occur if the layer is not disturbed before warmer temperatures arrive. Many lawns are affected by this each year while many other lawns are not. The grass type dictates how susceptible it is to the fungus.
[toggle_content title=”What can be done about it?”]Simply disrupting the slimy/crusty surface layer that this fungus creates will generally be enough to prevent damage in home lawns. If you feel that you may have this fungus in your lawn then you should immediately get a rake or dethatcher unit to scratch the surface of your lawn. If using a tow-behind de thatcher 2 or 3 passes may be necessary to fully disrupt the layer left by this fungus. It is important that as soon as the snowpack melts and you see visible signs that you perform this practice. If you wait too long then you could be doing more harm by not doing anything. These areas may not recover if proper airflow and the sunlight is not restored.[/toggle_content]
[toggle_content title=”What can Green Thumb do?”]Controls on home lawns are generally not warranted in this case. The fungus is easily controlled by cultural practices. If you think you might have this fungus please call our office. We’ll dispatch a technician to confirm this and recommend any steps you should take.[/toggle_content]