Snow Mold and Other Winter Damage to Turf

Snow Mold and Other Winter Damage to Turf

As the snow melts, many of our Cape Cod customers are finding some unpleasant surprises on their lawns. There may be areas dug and damaged by snowplows. You might see areas that were so compressed under a pile of heavy snow that the grass appears to be dead. Some are also seeing areas where snow mold has killed their turf, either in round patches or larger, splotched areas across the lawn.

Those places damaged by plowing or heavy mounds of snow should be raked and top-dressed with a light application of loam or a loam and compost mix. Apply grass seed in mid to late April to rejuvenate the lawn in these areas. Be sure to keep those seeded areas watered if it doesn’t rain: grass seed takes about ten days to germinate and once it’s growing you’ll need to slowly transition the turf to deeper, longer watering less often.

Snow mold can be caused by several disease organisms and typically shows up in cold, damp weather. Some of these molds show up as soon as the snow melts, and others develop in wet, cool conditions that are typical on the Cape in the spring.  The most common after a winter with long snow cover is Typhula blight, which usually appears in circular patches.

No matter which type of mold disease you see on your lawn, the response should be the same. 1. Rake lawns to get rid of packed debris and dead grasses. 2. Promote new growth with an application of an organic fertilizer such as Espoma Organic Spring Lawn Booster or All-Season Lawn Food.  3. Wait and see if your lawn recovers as the days get warmer. If you find that some areas aren’t regrowing, top dress with a light application of loam and grass seed. Usually fungicides aren’t necessary for snow mold, especially in the spring.

To read more about snow molds, and see photos of the damage, visit this website from the University of Massachusetts.


  1. Anne Coleman on April 3, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    You recommend rake and spring fertilizer for snow mold. When would you apply crabgrass pre emergent?

    • CLFornari on April 3, 2014 at 10:37 pm

      Crabgrass treatments are commonly put on just before the soil reaches 55 degrees – since crabgrass seeds usually germinate when the soil is between 57 and 64 degrees F. This period usually corresponds with when the forsythia blooms, so watch for those yellow flowers and put your treatments down when they start to appear.

  2. carolyn patkowski on April 3, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Thanks Guys,

    I always appreciate your posts and Yes, I do have some of the yucky spots you are talking about. I will get out there and rake and apply more seed to these areas.

    Also, If you could keep informing people about our very fragile aquifer here on the Cape now that the season of fertilizing is apon us that:

    1. We have the highest breast and prostate cancer in the entire state.

    2. We have a shallow aquifer.

    3. If you use commercial fertilizer/pesticide companies that put little flags on your lawn, don’t believe you should have your children/animals lounge around on the grass, it is not safe despite it looking pretty unless you don’t care about effects up the road.

    4. Having lived in Switzerland and England for many years these companies and practices were either outlawed or never existed in the first place.
    Dehydrated cow manure is the fertilizer of choice in the early spring in Switzerland. Stinky for a short while but produces gorgeous results in lawns, flowers etc. and…completely safe for children, pets and anyone who wants to lie belly down on the grass!

    Best regards,

    • CLFornari on April 3, 2014 at 10:39 pm

      Thanks for your very thoughtful reply. At HCG we are also concerned about the Cape aquifer, wildlife and native environments. We always point our customers toward organic treatments and gardening that works in partnership with nature. Thanks for being on “the green team” with us.

  3. Wyl on March 31, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    What Ph should I keep my grassy part of the yard? You should also know that the ground under the sod is very sandy.

    I have applied 40lbs of granulated lime, with hope it will help the sod get established.

    Thank you in advance.

    • CLFornari on March 31, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      Lawns should be kept at 6 to 7 on the pH scale. Always have a soil test done before adding lime. If your ground is sandy, and you didn’t amend with loam or compost before laying the sod it might thin out over time. To keep it thick top-dress with some compost every other year, mow the lawn high (3″) so the plants stay strong and use a good organic lawn fertilizer.

  4. Robert jones on April 8, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Some type of moss has infiltrated lawns in my area and appears to be taking over large areas. What can be done to

    • CLFornari on April 8, 2018 at 4:00 pm

      Moss grows under any or all of these conditions: compact soil, moist soil and in shade. So even if a lawn is in full sun, if the soil is compact (not aerated or top-dressed with compost lately) moss will thrive. If it’s been a rainy season or your irrigation is going off too often, moss with thrive. If it’s shady, moss will grow. In order to get rid of the moss you need to change those conditions. Come into the store and talk with Chris Stokes or Jamie Dekes for more information.

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