Although winter brings gorgeous and heavy snow fall, it could also trigger the growth of snow mold on your lawn if you’re not careful. This is why when the seasons change and the temperatures start to drop, you need to update your yard maintenance routine into something better for winter to preserve your healthy lawn.
If you don’t properly prep your lawn for snow, it could become a breeding ground for snow mold that you’ll see once the warmth of spring melts away the heavy blanket of snow. Luckily, you can just follow this guide to keep this from happening to you!
What You’ll Need
It’s easy enough to prevent a snow mold problem on your lawn. All you need are some basic gardening equipment and careful planning. When prepping your lawn for winter, these are what you’ll need:
- Alternative: A reel or rotary mower can also effectively trim your grass to the length needed for winter prep.
- Garden rake
- Alternative: Any kind of lawn rake will be useful in this endeavor as long as it enables you to gather and clear off plant debris.
- Thatch rake
- Preventative fungicide
- Snow shovel
- Grass seed (optional)
How to Prevent Snow Mold
The key to snow mold control is prevention rather than treatment. When you follow these winter lawn care tips, you give your yard the best shot at reaching the warm spring season without any snow mold complications greeting you.
Step 1: Trim Grass
One of the best things you can do when prepping your yard for winter is to regularly mow your lawn. Don’t let the green grass grow beyond 2 ½-inches short to prevent snow mold while still allowing grass to insulate your soil during the cold season. Failure to do this before the first snowfall will trap moisture and increase your chances of growing snow mold and fungal diseases.
Pro-Tip: Sharpen Your Blades
Make sure to keep the blades of your mower as sharp as possible. This increases your efficiency and gives you a cleaner cut on your lawn. Remember to regularly check the state of your mower blades and sharpen them when needed. Additionally, clean your mower after every use to keep it in top condition.
Step 2: Dethatch Your Lawn
Although lawn dethatching is not done as often as other lawn care practices, it’s important to do this a few times each year— especially during early fall. Take the time to remove the dense thatch layer in your yard with a thatch rake, making sure to pierce your rake deep enough to pull at the thick layer of dead plant matter and matted grass.
Step 3: Remove Debris
Outside of lawn dethatching, you should also rake plant debris as often as you can. Regularly remove any fallen leaves from your lawn to prevent build-up. Raking up this lawn debris also stops excess moisture from locking into your yard and hinders pests from burrowing in your yard as they hibernate and overwinter.
Pro-Tip: Collect Your Clippings
After mowing your green lawn, it would also be a huge help to collect and remove your grass clippings. Usually, these clippings act as a natural fertilizer that promotes healthy turf growth but it’s not ideal for the winter months. Leaving debris, wet leaves, clipping of leaf blades, and dead grass in your yard, while it snows, will collect moisture and can kickstart snow mold growth and lawn disease.
Step 4: Stop Fertilizing
Stop fertilizing your lawn at least six weeks before the expected date of your area’s first snowfall. To stay safe and to keep your lawn healthy, lower the nitrogen content in your fertilizer and stop using it completely in the late fall. This fertilizer won’t be fully absorbed by your lawn, and excess nutrients left on the surface of your soil could promote snow mold growth.
Step 5: Layer With Topsoil
If you notice any depressions in your lawn that are prone to collecting water, fill them with topsoil. Topsoil improves your yard’s drainage during cold-season storms and insulates your lawn. This could also keep your yard safe from slushy puddles and minimize moisture content trapped in your soil, lowering the chances of snow mold making a home in your yard.
Step 6: Apply Preventative Fungicide
Apply your preventative fungicide before it starts snowing. Evenly distribute it over your turf after you’ve trimmed the grass and cleared it of thatches and rotting debris. Once the frost sets in, there’s not much you can do to address more snow mold concerns. Applying this while you can is one of the most effective ways to hinder mold development under your yard’s snow cover.
Step 7: Shovel Excess Snow
During the cold winter season, always shovel excess snow off of your lawn. Although they make your home look picture-perfect, large amounts of snow take longer to melt and can kickstart mold growth, especially if fluctuating temperatures cause your snow to melt and refreeze continuously. Removing large piles of snow keeps your soil safer in these cold conditions.
Pro-Tip: Even snow cover
If you’re insistent on having stark white snow blanketing your lawn, take care to avoid thick and uneven snow layers. You should also spread out tall snow mounds on your lawn to ensure that it melts evenly on your grass. Leveling your snow and keeping the layers thin gives you a gorgeous winter landscape that’s still soil-friendly.
How To Prevent And Treat Snow Mold
Step 1: Observe For Signs Of Mold
Snow mold doesn’t show any signs of infection until the weather warms up again. Though it’s difficult to spot signs of snow mold during the winter season, you should still remember to keep a close eye on your lawn and watch out for any greying and pinking circular spots on your yard after the snow melts away.
Step 2: Remove Infected Patches
Once your lawn is warm enough, use your rake to remove any areas in your yard that have been contaminated by mold. Gently use your rake tines to scrape the area and pull it off of the grass. For this task, feel free to go as deep as needed to get rid of all the mold, sometimes even having to create little holes in your yard.
Step 3: Repair Affected Areas With Grass (optional)
The last thing you’ll need to do after removing snow mold growth is to repair the damaged spots. Fill in any holes with soil and replant your grass seeds. This is a cosmetic step that removes any trace of winter damage on your lawn and readies it for the springtime growing season.
Although preventing and treating snow mold in your lawn can sound intimidating at first, it’s actually a straightforward process that anyone can do with clever planning and the right materials and equipment.
As long as you carefully follow these steps during your winter yard prep, you can freely hope for a snow mold-free lawn when spring comes back around. No matter what happens when the weather grows warm, you can rest easy knowing you did all you could and the rest is up to mother nature.
If you have any questions about this or want to share your own winter lawn care tips, comment them down below. Don’t be shy, we love hearing from you!