Dealing with snow mold & crabgrass

Discussion in 'Lawn Care' started by Kennedy, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. Kennedy

    Kennedy New Seed

    Mar 10, 2009
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    My Ohio,mostly blue grass lawn has two major issues: snow mold and crabgrass. I feel like I am chasing my tail. Neither issue seems to go away, in fact they seem to be getting worse.

    Last spring I removed the snow mold damaged grass and re seeded. After a few weeks, I applied Turfbuilder with Haltz. Everything came back to life after much work. Summer went on, I applied some summer fertilizer and all was good for a while.

    Around mid-to late August, the crabgrass came back with a vengance, especially in the areas that suffered the snow mold damage. I spent weeks pulling crabgrass. I finally got the lawn crabgrass free, but I know the lawn is full of crabgrass seed just waiting to wage war on my lower back again.

    Then in the fall, I put down Scotts winterizer. The lawn seemed to be holding up fine, until the snow melted. I got to welcome my old friend snow mold again. The snow mold is going strong in the same areas as last year, plus some new areas.

    How should I deal with the snow mold? Remove the damaged sod, re seed with some starter fertilizer? What about crabgrass control in those areas? Would lime help at all? Anyone know an airforce pilot that would be willing to practice some pin point bombing on my lawn?
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  3. Droopy

    Droopy Slug Slaughterer Plants Contributor

    Aug 11, 2007
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    Western Norway
    I know how you feel, and you have my sympathy. We battle ground elder and moss, and haven't found anything that will work execpt from digging, picking, more digging and more picking.

    I hope someone will have some good advice for you.
  4. Bestlawn

    Bestlawn New Seed

    May 25, 2008
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    SE Michigan
    Kennedy, I feel your pain but need you to know that approach is half the battle. First, you want to be sure exactly what you are dealing with.

    1. There are two kinds of snow mold - Gray Snow (GSM) and Pink Snow Mold (PSM). They are two different pathogens that often share causes of circumstance and sometimes not, but they affect the grass plants differently and often times PSM will return later in the year and can cause other problems as well. Additionally, it is possible to have both pathogens exist at the same time.

    You need a positive diagnosis in order to know how to treat it. Call your local cooperative extension service.

    Here is the list by county........

    They can direct you to the plant pathology lab.
    Here is the lab web page........

    You will take samples of the affected areas so they can diagnose the problem. There is a likelihood you have more than just snow mold. One of the snow molds, PSM, usually renders the lawn susceptible to other diseases throughout the year.

    I won't go into methods for treating the disease(s) because your extension service will offer that upon diagnosis and determine if a fungicide is necessary. Usefulness of a fungicide depends on which pathogen is present. But, to help prevent snow mold in the future, there are steps you can take in your maintenance regime.

    a. Snow mold is often caused by matted grass and dessication, so you want to be sure to keep the grass properly hydrated before winter.

    b. Keep the grass mowed at 3 inches and don't let it go into winter any higher than that.

    c. Lay off the summer fertilizer. The good it appears to do is actually more harmful and makes the plants vulnerable to disease.

    d. Timing of the winterizing fertilizer application is very important. It should be timed such that the grass is no longer growing (you don't have to mow any more), but the grass is still green.

    2. I am doubtful your weed problem is crabgrass. The reason I say is that crabgrass doesn't flourish in mid to late August. It is around that time of year that it begins to reach the end of its life cycle. It's very possible that any existing crop still exists during that time, but it's unlikely to see a new crop of it.

    In addition to plant pest diagnosis, your local extension service can also help you with plant identification, so take them some of these weeds (with roots) for them to positively identify them. That way, you'll know what kind of herbicide to use. Also, your pre-emergent herbicide application pretty much controls crabgrass for the season. It's an annual plant and doesn't return the following year after it dies out at then end of each. Each year's new crop is from the seeds the plants left behind before they died the year before.

    Crabgrass begins germinating in spring and continues through May and June normally. When you apply pre-m in spring, that should prevent early germination, but you want heed the label for efficacy information. Some of the pre-m herbicides are effective for 30 days, some for 60 days, some for 3 months, and some even longer. My point is depending on the one you use, another application may be necessary before summer. I hope you got your first application down already this year. If not, do it now.

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