As the daylight hours begin to lengthen and the temperatures rise, small peeks of green grass are emerging, proving spring might actually be on its way. When long winters combine with a damp spring it can become a perfect environment for fungal diseases such as snow mold and white powdery mildew to start making an appearance. Fortunately in Idaho, most of these lawn disruptions are temporary. The key is to know what to look for so as to be able to prevent them from becoming a problem.
Snow Mold- Snow mold becomes visible in spring lawns, generally in cool shady areas of turf that are more prone to collecting extra water. There are 2 main types of snow mold: pink snow mold (Fusarium patch) and gray snow mold (Typhula blight). Our susceptible turf varieties are the ones composed of rye, bluegrass and fescue varieties. Nearly all snow mold in Eastern Idaho is gray (Typhula blight), and typically resolves itself naturally. It causes less damage because it usually only affects the leaves on the grass, and not the crown.
White Powdery Mildew- This common lawn issue is caused by a mildew fungus (rysiphe graminis) attacking the blades of the grass. Shrubs and other dense vegetation with low light and high humidity can also become affected. When you are looking at it from a distance the fungal growth looks like someone accidentally spray painted some of the blades of grass white.
The good news is that these can be easily taken care of with a good raking and good lawncare. There are times fungal environments progress and proper fungicides and further attention is needed to remedy an outbreak but most can be cleared up by doing some of the following:
- Reduce the mowing height on the last mow of the fall and your first mow of the spring. This keeps the turf from being matted down and creating pockets of warmth where the fungi like to grow.
- Disperse any large snow piles on the grass. Melting snow can trap the heat (like an igloo) creating a warm, humid environment.
- Take your leaf rake and go after any patches that look like either snow mold or powdery mildew. This will lift the blades up and allow air movement.
- Ensure irrigation good irrigation practices are followed and landscapes have healthy drainage.
- Apply regular applications of slow-release fertilization.
If you have concerns identifying what is going on with your lawn, or have additional questions/ needs in your landscape, please call our office at 208-523-5296.