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Snow Mold Elimination & Prevention

Many Minnesotans are anxiously anticipating Spring, quicker commutes and warmer temperatures. Landscaping is our game. We can’t wait for the ground to thaw so that we can bring life to our clients’ plans that we’ve been working on this winter. Although, the thaw can sometimes be bittersweet if obnoxious gray circles appear on your lawn.

Snow Mold

Snow Mold

These gray circles can be attributed to snow mold. Snow mold loves compact snow for an extended period of time. The below zero temperatures are in the homeowners’ favor (if you want to pull something positive from the Polar Vortex) because snow mold is not fond of the extreme cold. Just hope that come spring the snow melts at a fast rate as snow mold thrives in 30-40 degree temperatures under snow cover.

Rake & Remove or Leaf it & Reap it.

Rake & Remove or Leaf it & Reap it.

Prevention

  • Continue to mow until the first snowfall. Long grasses are attractive breeding ground for mold. Keep your grass a little shorter than usual before you but your lawnmower away for the winter or say goodbye to your lawn crew for the season.
  • Don’t let leaves accumulate. Amass of leaves creates moisture and an excellent home for snow mold. Rake and remove or leaf it and reap it.
  • Till the snow to reduce compaction by making snow sculptures, play fetch with your Fido or let the kids build snow castles outside.
  • Applications of Nitrogen can encourage snow mold. Never apply nitrogen after the first frost and use a low-nitrogen, slow- release formula during the latter part of the year.

Elimination

  • Nature is amazing in how resilient it can be on its own. If the temperatures cooperate (>45 degrees) and snow melts, gray snow mold damage will likely recover on its own.
  • Encourage the recovery process after the snowmelt by lightly raking damaged areas to eliminate trapped moisture. If necessary reseed the area as conditions allow.
  • Look at a few of your winter maintenance routines if snow mold is a reoccurring nuisance to your landscape. Don’t pile or push snow to one area, spread it out to reduce the concentration of snow compaction. Does the snowmelt have somewhere to go? Ensure that your property allows for proper drainage to eliminate unnecessary moisture. Strategically incorporate natural wind barriers where snow accumulates to again reduce the concentration of the snow compaction.

More information about gray snow mold and different snow mold diseases can be found on UMassAmherst site.

Snow Mold, Photo Credit: noricum via photopin cc
Rake it or Remove it, Photo Credit: Ian Sane via photopincc

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Deicer Damage

Salt Damage

The metro area has been hit pretty hard with snow and freezing temperatures. The accumulated snow on the ground doesn’t exactly get you thinking about beautiful green grass. It is how the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.”

However, your beautiful green lawn may be burning along the perimeter of your driveway and in areas adjacent to the street. It is hard to fight compacted snow and ice in the below zero temperatures. Most homeowners and municipalities resort to salt and/or ice melt solutions.

Salt is used on roadways because it lowers the freezing point of water. We all know that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, when you add a salt solution that temperature drops.  Salt solutions are only effective up to about 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

A majority of ice melt solutions use salt in combination with two primary minerals calcium chloride or magnesium chloride. These chemicals are more effective in colder temperatures, even as low as negative 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Calcium Chloride is a mineral derived from limestone and is also created as a by-product via different processing methods. There is evidence that Calcium Chloride may be more harmful to plants/vegetation and concrete than salt.

photo credit: Jeffrey Beall via photopin cc

This sign post is corroding due to repeated applications of the
de-icer, magnesium chloride.
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Beall via photopin cc

Magnesium Chloride (hydrated) can be extracted from brine and seawater. Much of North America’s Magnesium Chloride is extracted from Great Salt Lake brine. There is also evidence that Magnesium Chloride can be harmful to vegetation and degrade concrete surfaces.

Damaged lawns around perimeters of high traffic areas are likely due to deicing products. We suggest that you either re-sod those areas if they are significant in size or reseed. If you decide to do the latter you may want to consider replacing some of the soil as those minerals may be left in the soil and inhibit regrowth.

Tips/Techniques to Prevent Deicer Damage

Consult with landscape specialists about different grasses to reseed damaged areas. Some grasses are less susceptible to salt damage. May we suggest GT Design and Landscapes?

Consider laying decorative brick or stones along the perimeter of your driveway. We suggest this route if you experience seasonal damage from deicers year-after-year.

Research the variety of deicer products on the market. Put a little more thought into your purchase and select a product that is appropriate for your lawn.

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