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Snow Mold

Snow Mold in Lawns

By Kevin Cutlip

So we had a decent snow for 2016. I’m done, how about you? If only we could train the snow not to fall on the streets and deer to “prune our roses” in February, right? Well, so much for wishing.

Let’s talk this week about Snow Mold. It’s a recurring issue, especially if we don’t follow the proper feeding of, well, everything! Proper feeding and knowing when to quit has long been an issue with the varied vendors and their charts. We are in zone 7a which means we feed everything differently than other zones – we are also in Sunset Zone 32. Yep, another thing for you to wonder about. Not really.

Take for example, some parts of Oregon are in 7a as well, but a different Sunset Zone. Plants, shrubs and trees, are well adapt to different Sunset Zones but our lawns and mulched areas suffer the difference because of the timing of applications. Here’s the thing, “They are closer to the soil”…. Where the snow stays after the “melt temps are achieved”.

So how do you stop Snow Mold? Let’s calculate some bad timings of the “charts”. Too much (or overkill) of feeding a lawn, too much Nitrogen and not cutting the grass into the early Winter allows that Nitrogen to not be taken up by the plant (grass). So, as the blade of grass is super long, it can produce more sugars and carbs to the root through photosynthesis.  Also, if you use the store bought fertilizer you applied, late… It’s still there. Then, it snows. Snow, is loaded with Nitrogen, and everywhere it stays longest, snow mold generates. Usually this happens in low spots. It’s the same as that ugly fungus you get in Hardwood mulch, which is aptly called, “Dog Puke Fungus” because it looks like a dog, well, threw up in there. If you top dressed your beds with Hardwood in the Fall, you may see this fungus this week. Nothing can be done to treat it, and it does not harm your live goods. It’s, just…. UGLY…. Natural breakdown of the Hardwood “fines” in low, wet spots in your beds.

Both of these fungi, are “tattletales” in a gardener’s journal. They indicate low spots, over-feeding and northern exposures that stay wetter because of the acidity and left over Nitrogen in the soil.

For more information on Snow Mold, click here!

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