The snow from our latest Nor’Easter is assuredly giving way under the spring sun. What you may be noticing about your lawn, as it is revealed is that it is looking less than “spring-like.” Hopefully, you have a trusted lawn care specialist in your area to call in for some grooming. Extended lengths of snow cover can cause a whole host of lawn problems.
As we are heading further into the spring season, Green Machine, who has been serving the greater Northeastern Pennsylvania area for over 38 years, has been seeing more and more winter damage. The extreme lows and highs are affecting our yards more than we initially know.
For those lawns that were not necessarily in ideal condition going into the winter season, snow may have made it appear to have “worked out” the flaws. However, it is only a mask. The
the condition has not improved, in fact, it can worsen due to snow mold, moles or voles.
Moles and Voles
Mole damage is relatively common, especially to those homeowners who have had issues with moles in the past. Eastern moles push up soil and turf from tunnels near the surface. Mole control can be using traps or poison baits. If you have a pet, you will want to be cautious of using any poison bate, especially for those pets that like to dig.
Voles, also known as field mice, commonly make paths under the snow in lawns as they eat grass. Voles like to dig burrows to protect themselves are well protected themselves from predators. Damage from voles can be mistaken for mole damage. However, moles are not active during winter. Vole damage appears as surface paths or trails of damaged grass.
Severe damage will require some overseeding of lawn grass in April. You
can prevent further damage from occurring by continuing to mow lawns to a height of about 2 inches until the grass is completely dormant in fall. Spring clean up should include removing any excess yard waste that voles may use as cover.
Snow mold fungus disease will be visible as snow starts to abate in the spring. It can be both gray (Typhula blight) and pink snow mold (Fusarium patch or Microdochium patch). During the colder weather of early spring, snow mold may be very noticeable as matted, crusty looking areas. Gray snow mold appears in roughly circular yellow to whitish-gray patches.
As we head further into the dryer months of spring and summer snow mold will go dormant. Highly infected areas may turn into the dead turf. To repair damage, rake matted grass and re-seed or resod as necessary in April.
The severity of snow mold can change from year to year, but some areas are more frequently affected. Tall matted-down grass, excessive use of fast-release (water soluble) nitrogen fertilizer in early to mid-fall, excessive thatch, excessive shade, poor drainage, and excessive debris (such as leaves or straw) on the turf, all contribute to snow mold. Spots on the lawn that tend to get piles of drifting snow are also more prone to snow mold.
To avoid snow mold, follow sound fertilization programs; use fertilizers containing slow-release or controlled-release nitrogen; manage thatch by using aerification or removal with vertical mowing (dethatching). Increase air circulation by pruning or removing dense yard waste around snow mold-prone areas.
Damage from voles, moles, and snow mold can be minimized by keeping lawns mowed until the grass is completely dormant in fall.