In October I had a new lawns laid on 6″ of new soil. When the recent bout of snow disappeared 10 days ago my lawns – back and front – were smothered with 3/4″ diameter white rings. I brushed them and the grass beneath appeared dead and in many instances gooie
What is the condition called ?
Is there a simple cure or will I need to call the landscape gardeners back to undertake a complete relay.
You most likely have either Typhula Blight or Fusarium Patch. Both will thrive in the cold and snow and are generally seen in the spring as local snowfall melts away. Since you’ve had some snow melting now you’ve discovered it earlier but this is not uncommon.
The good news is that either fungus can usually be avoided. And in most cases no treatments are needed. Since your turf is new, there is probably 2-3 things which allowed the condition to develop so quickly. Here’s what may have contributed to the problem.
1) New turf in the fall. When one lays sod in the fall, there is a good chance the grass won’t be strong enough to avoid falling victim to some kind of disease. Turf laid in the spring has a long season in which good roots can be grown insuring healthy and strong grass development. However, grass planted in the fall will typically have this process thwarted with decreasing temps slowing the process. In the end, newly planted sod in the fall will many times be more vulnerable to winter disease because it did not have a chance to grow healthy and get established.
2) Long grass growth promotes these fungus and empowers them. In regions where turf will be covered by snowfall, it’s usually best to trim the grass prior to the first snow. Keeping it short and trimmed will take away what the fungus needs to thrive. In most cases, new sod will be left to grow when it’s first set out to avoid killing it. Though okay for the first season and generally the best way to grow newly planted sod, don’t let this happen in subsequent years.
3) Fertilizing late in the year. Most everyone will apply a good dose of fertilizer to newly laid turf. This is not suggested for established yards as late fertilizing will establish high nitrogen levels in the soil – perfect for snow mold to prosper.
4) Remove grass clippings. Though mulching grass clippings is no doubt the environment friendly way to handle grass that’s been cut, letting it pile up on your turf is not suggested. In most cases this will only lead to fungus, insects and other problems. Be sure to remove and relocate the clippings off the lawn you’re wanting to protect.
5) Soil Ph. If you haven’t done so, get a SOIL PH PROBE and take some soil readings. Insuring your PH is in check is vital to proper lawn growth and necessary if you wish to sustain any lawn but it’s especially important when new turf is laid. And don’t think fresh top soil has a “perfect” ph. Many times top soil is fertilizer rich and low in ph – two ingredients that will almost always lead to problems sooner rather than later.
In summary, snow mold typically dries up and dies when spring arrives. Maintaining a healthy lawn and following the “do and don’t” list above will help reduce the risk of feeding a fungus. But if the fungus appears next year, you’ll most likely have to take preventive measures every fall to insure it’s kept minimal. Applying a fungicide in late fall will no doubt help and could be needed but only after a history with your new turf is established will you be able to know for sure if you need to do preventive applications.
Here are direct links to the information and products listed above:
Soil PH Control: http://www.soil-ph.com/soil-ph
Soil PH Probe: http://www.bugspray.com/catalog/products/page1736.html