Is your lawn a mess? Does it look dead? Want to know how to bring it back to life and make it lush and green again?
It is a common problem for lawns in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Eastern Canada, but many lawns and sports fields in B.C. have been devastated this winter by snow mould, a fungal problem caused by extensive snow cover.
The damage is only becoming obvious this month as homeowners start to notice that their lawns look either completely dead or have irregular dead patches, covered by grey or pink cottony fungal growth, symptoms of snow mould.
According to grass expert David Wall, of Premier Pacific Seeds in Surrey, B.C., this is the worst devastation he has seen in the area in 40 years. Wall says snow mould fungi has attacked lawns "with a vengeance." Long periods of snow cover and near-zero degree temperatures allowed the organism to get a grip, he says.
Pink snow mould is the worst kind. It starts out looking more grey than pink and can kill blades of grass as well as the root system. Grey snow mould is less damaging. It rarely does more than kill off the top of the grass, leaving a lawn looking brown and patchy. A lawn will recover if left alone but it can take all of summer to do it. "Turf farms have been affected by it and many sports fields as well as thousands of home lawns," says Wall.
The most effective solution is to liberally oversow and regrow your lawn back to its former glory. It is best to use the most suitable grass seed for coastal gardens — perennial rye. Elka 2, Elka 3 and Major League are three brands of grass seed that contain a high content of perennial rye.
To prevent the problem from recurring, it is wise not to fertilize a lawn after August and make sure grass is cut short before winter. Also, avoid compacting snow on a lawn by shovelling it into slow-melting deep piles — the cause of the problem in the first place.