In early 2016, Denver saw some of its coldest weather, with plenty of snow falling on yards throughout the Colorado region. While some might see the snow itself as the biggest problem (that’s what snow ploughs are for!); when it comes to our health and the upkeep of our property the major issue isn’t actually the snow itself. It’s what happens when the snow melts!
From the cold weather in winter in 2016, came what was reported as the “worst snow mold in 10 years”. So what is snow mold and how do we minimize the damage it causes?
What is snow mold
Snow mold is a fungal disease that is created by melting snow. It basically starts to appear once the snow starts to melt. It makes sense, for weeks (maybe even months), snow has been covering your lawns and they haven’t seen sunshine in a while. The ground underneath all that snow is cold, damp and dying: the ideal place for mold to grow.. It is either pink or gray, each of which is caused by different bacteria.
When does it occur
Snow mold begins to grow in winter and generally begins to show up on your lawn in spring. It might not occur every year and is more likely to happen when the snow has fallen hard and fast, early in the season; not allowing the ground time to freeze before its covered in snow.
Snow mold doesn’t always occur. Some yards remain clear, while others around them are infected.
Symptoms of snow mold first show up on your lawn as straw colored circles, which continue to grow bigger and bigger while the grass stays wet. The grass will start to look a bit shabby and your mold will either look gray or pink. You might even see some mushrooms coming out from the ground (don’t eat them!).
And it might not be just your grass that is affected – gray snow mold can even grow on the leaves and crowns of plants creating sclerotia (hard structures) that are about the size of a pinhead.
The good news is there are things you can do to prevent snow mold, or to keep it at bay. Keep your lawn mowed. The shorter the grass, the less appealing it is to mold. Don’t use too much nitrogen fertilizer in the months before winter. Try to get rid of all the leaves from fall before the snow hits. And if you have areas where snow seems deeper than others, try to spread the snow out a bit more (making snowmen is a fun way to limit the space where your snow might be).
And finally, if you do have a case of snow mold in your yard, you can help to clear it up by raking the area gently and regularly, removing any excess brown grass and putting it straight in the bin. If your snow mold needs serious help, call in the trained mold prevention professionals to assist.