Now that the snow is finally melting and we can see some evidence of grass again, it’s important to assess your lawn for any problems. Michigan experienced a long, brutal winter this year, and your landscape has likely been through some trauma as well, with the sub-zero temperatures and the regular exposure to chemicals from county or municipal salt trucks or homeowners’ applications. It’s better to be proactive in dealing with any damage so the beauty of your landscape will not be marred.
The first thing you may notice is a filmy residue left over after the snow disappears. This is what is left over from the salt trucks and will disappear, but make a note of it when you see it because salt, while necessary for winter driving, is an enemy of grass. Spray it down with a hose and apply a gypsum soil conditioner to help your turf heal from salt exposure. Then carefully look everything over for damage.
In addition to salt damage, bleached out or rusty patches on your lawn are evidence that a fungal disease called snow mold has developed. The most commons kinds of snow molds are gray snow mold and pink snow mold. Pink snow mold is more of a concern because it spreads from the grasses’ blades to their root systems. Prevention of snow molds has to occur in the fall, before snow has fallen, with timed applications of fungicide and fertilizer.
It’s also important to rake leaves and other detritus from your lawn before the snow flies. As our leaves fell late last year and snow fell early and is receding slowly, we may see more lawn damage this spring and more need for reseeding.
When all the snow has melted and your ground is no longer soggy, clear away all remaining leaves and debris and give your lawn care with a gentle raking to improve aeration. When the ground is thoroughly dry, you can give it a more vigorous raking to remove thatch, a light brown layer of decaying vegetation, and encourage deeper rooting. Then mow off the dead tips of the grass. Hold off on fertilizing until later in the spring – too much fertilizer can lead to more vigorous weed growth and other lawn problems.
If you would like help with your lawn care, PROCARE would be happy to provide advice and assistance about the proper timing of herbicides and fertilizers or any other questions you may have about landscape care. It’s our area of expertise, so contact us today.