Everything you need to know about winter’s nastiest lawn care disease…
Nothing causes so much celebration quite like an unexpected snowfall. It’s what makes winter winter and adults feel like kids again as they dust of the sledge that’s been hiding in the garage for three years, rifle through their fridges to find the perfect “snowman” carrot and lay on their floor, waving their limbs about like it’s totally normal, all in the name of snow angels. That said, it’s not all fun and games; not if you have a lawn you love and care for.
You see, with each winter (and definitely each dump of snow), your lawn can experience a problem that doesn’t truly show itself until the spring, namely patches of discoloured grass that are either sand-coloured or matted together by a pinky-white web-like coating. This is called fusarium, aka snow mould — a lawn disease that can cause some serious harm to your beloved patch of the great outdoors.
Now more often than not, this disease starts to appear as the snow begins to melt away, but it doesn’t require snow to actually arise. And what’s worst of all, snow mould can actually keep thriving and spreading for as long as the weather stays cool and damp. That’s the bad news. The good news is, these nasty spots of grey and pink can actually shrink on their own, as the weather warms up and the rainfall subsides. That said, this is England, meaning there have been years where the cool, damp weather can last forever and so those diseased spots can last all summer long, and then into the autumn if you’re not careful.
So without further ado, here’s the Joe’s guide to dealing with fusarium (aka snow mould):
3 Symptoms To Look Out For
As with any issue in life, you can’t hope to deal with it until you know it’s there. That means knowing your lawn and spotting any anomalies that may be harmful — and in the instance of fusarium, there are three main symptoms you can keep an eye for:
- Snow mould first shows up as small patches of yellowish, greyish and sometimes pinkish grass that later turns brown, all of which suggests your grass is being killed by a disease.
- If you spot anything like this, make sure you keep an eye on it because these patches can quickly grow in size and could even reach 12-inches or more in diameter, often merging together so that they create a large area of infected turf.
- When the conditions are wet, you may be able to notice a white or pinkish web-like substance growing on these patches, particularly at the edges. This is a fungal growth and should not be confused with another common (and equally harmful) lawn care disease known as red thread.
Damage Caused By Fusarium
We love a bit of good news, and the good news here is you’re not likely to face snow mold every year. That said, if you keep a close eye on your grass, you’ll notice that snow mould doesn’t rear its ugly-head until the spring. That’s because the snow you gawped out with child-like eyes earlier in the year fell on ground that wasn’t yet fully frozen, allowing the warm ground beneath the snow to actively harbour nasty fungal growth that takes months to visibly appear. That’s why you are faced with the results when the spring thaw finally arrives. That’s why a freezing cold winter without much snowfall is a lot less likely to create fusarium damage come the spring.
And the good news doesn’t stop there because even if you do find nasty fungal spots on your lawn in the spring, they’re usually not that serious, and a decent dollop of hot sunshine will dry your lawn out, greening up all those infected areas. The issue is, relying on the English weather, so here are some ways to control your snow mould problems.
4 Organic Treatments You Can Trust
We’re all about avoiding chemicals where possible because, well, there’s no Planet B right. As such, we recommend you try these planet-friendly treatments before diving straight into the more harmful options:
- The best thing you can do to prevent or treat your snow mould problems is to help your lawn dry out as fast as possible, especially after heavy dews or rainfall. And how do you do that? Simple. By improving your lawn’s drainage abilities. Cue a combination of scarification and aeration, all of which improves drainage and airflow, and something you can either do with a pitch fork or we can do with our specialised machinery depending on the size of your lawn and the extent of your problem.
- The second thing you can do is help improve the general airflow and sunlight your lawn gets by pruning back any trees, branches and shrubs that may be overhanging and casting long shadows over your turfed area. Less shadows and less obstacles means more sunlight and more wind, both of which will dry out your grass a lot quicker.
- Another thing you can do to whip up some good vibes for your lawn is to remove any heavy dews sitting on your grass blades first thing in the morning with a switch (read: a long, pliable rod) or even a bamboo cane. It may sound pretty archaic, but you’ll feel more badass than Johnny Keane in Cobra Kai.
- And last but not least, try to avoid using any fertiliser that’s got high doses of nitrogen when it comes to feeding your lawn in either late-summer or the autumn by opting for a proprietary autumn lawn feed instead.
Controlling Snow Mould With Chemicals
We’ve always encouraged our clients to avoid using fungicides where possible, but if you’re dealing with a large patch of fusarium that borders on severe, there is only one fungicide available to amateur gardeners and that is trifloxystrobin. The good thing about this fungicide is that it can be used all year round, except if you’re facing a) drought conditions or b) your lawn is frozen. That said, using this product comes with a risk of resistance occurring in the fungal population, which is why we don’t recommend you use this product more than twice a year and always use it alongside other control methods instead of relying on this to solely do the job.
Of course, you can reduce the risk of harming your lawn and the surrounding environment by giving us a call instead. With more than 20 years experience and a large team of dedicated lawn care technicians, we can treat any level of fusarium in the most effective and efficient way possible. But don’t just take our word for it, go and read the reviews. We must be doing something epic to be the UKs leading independent lawn care service.