Leslie Cox’s backyard is a winter wonderland.

Leslie Cox’s backyard is a winter wonderland.

Duchess of Dirt: Beware of snow mould

A few years ago, I wrote an article about snow mould. Looking out my window, perhaps the subject bears another mention.

For clarification, snow mould is a fungus disease that attacks your lawn. It typically occurs when the grass has been covered by snow for prolonged periods of time in near zero temperatures.

There are certainly good snow mould conditions in our Black Creek garden. So far, in the whole month of December, there has only been one morning the overnight low was above the negative line.

Highs have been a little better, but definitely not enough to thaw much of the accumulated snow on the lawn.

For the uninitiated, snow mould looks like a dead patch in the grass. Closer inspection will reveal a telltale, cotton-like fungal growth – either grey or pink in colour. In extreme cases, the whole lawn may appear to be completely dead.

The pink-coloured mould is the worst species. It starts off looking grey in colour but as the mould grows and spreads it turns pink. Both the grass blades and the root system have been killed in this case.

The grey-coloured snow mould is less damaging – usually not killing off more than the top blades of grass. This leaves areas of the lawn looking brown and dead. Luckily, your lawn will likely recover, if it is not walked on or otherwise abused. But the recovery will most likely take the entire summer.

If you cannot wait a whole summer for your lawn to perk up, by all means go ahead and reseed it. This helps to repair the mould damage quicker.

Better yet, prevent snow mould from occurring in the first place.

• Do not fertilize your lawn after August.

• When clearing paths and driveways, do not pile snow on the lawn. Slow-melting, deep piles of snow are what cause the fungal mould problem in the first place.

Well, so far so good for our lawns. We did not fertilize or piled snow up on the lawn. But there is a heck of a lot of snow out here!

Happy New Year!

(There is more information about snow mould posted on my website at duchessofdirt.ca.)



Leslie Cox co-owns Growing Concern Cottage Garden in Black Creek. Her website is at www.duchessofdirt.ca and her column appears every second Thursday in the Record.