There are two types of snow mold common in Utah. One is pink and the other is gray snow mold. They are usually not too difficult to tell apart. The Utah Pests web site has useful pictures and information to help determine the differences. Consider this information.
* Both types of snow mold can cause extensive damage, especially in shady areas of the yard where snow requires more time to melt. Snow molds thrive at temperatures just above freezing and do their damage in the winter since they have little to no competition from other microorganisms.
* Most homeowners are usually unaware that there is a problem until spring since the fungi are hidden under a blanket of snow. Early snowstorms can bring about snow mold growth because the ground is usually not frozen, and the combination of snow cover and unfrozen grass creates an ideal environment for the fungi. Debris such as leaf litter left on the lawn can harbor the disease and should be removed on a regular basis. The east and north sides of buildings are also areas where snow mold is common. Creeping bentgrass, a species commonly used for putting greens on golf courses, is the most susceptible to the disease. Other common lawn grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, fescues and ryegrasses are less susceptible, but still can get snow mold when conditions are right.
* Certain fungicides can help prevent snow mold, but they are expensive, usually only moderately effective and are not recommended for homeowner use.
* Regularly mowing the lawn into late fall, when turf is no longer actively growing, helps prevent the disease because it is often worse in grass with longer blades.
* Pushing snow away from the driveway into sunnier areas of the yard can help keep the fungus away.
* Proper fertilization can aid in preventing the disease. Fall fertilizer applications should be made six to eight weeks before the first fall frost. Doing so can reduce symptoms of the disease and speed recovery in the spring. However, later fertilizer applications can actually make the problem worse.
* Many golf courses in Northern Utah apply organic, granular fertilizers that are dark in color in early spring to melt snow faster. Homeowners can also do this, and these organic fertilizers are available from many local farm stores and garden centers. An added benefit is these fertilizers are also high in organic matter, which benefits the lawn. These fertilizers should always be applied at recommended rates to prevent lawn scorching.
* In the spring, if you find that snow mold has damaged your lawn, rake away and dispose of all affected grass. Mulching or composting it can actually help spread the disease. Fungicide applications at this time are ineffective because the fungi go dormant during hot weather. If only minor damage is present, the lawn will quickly recover on its own. When moderate to severe damage occurs, reseeding or placing new sod in the area may be necessary.
By: Taun Beddes - Feb. 19, 2008