Snow mold: how to prevent this common winter lawn problem

Protect your grass from snow mold disease with our advice

snow mold on lawn
(Image credit: Nigel Cattlin/Alamy Stock Photo)

Inclement weather can cause problems for garden lawns – one of these being snow mold.

Contrary to its name, this fungal disease doesn't just appear after snow (although these conditions do encourage it). And although it's common in winter, it can actually appear all year round in wet conditions. As the RHS says, it's one of the most damaging diseases of turf grasses, causing unsightly brown patches, and it can be difficult to control.

There are some lawn care tips you can try, though, to reduce its impact and help your stretch of grass stay green and glorious. It's also worth knowing what to look out for, so you can take action early, should it appear in your plot.

How to identify snow mold on your lawn

Snow mold starts off as small, yellowish, dying patches across your grass. These marks look a bit like the damage caused by pet urine, if you're familiar with growing grass around dogs.

The patches can then spread in size to cover larger areas of lawns. A gray, white or pink, cotton-like growth can also appear, often at the edges of the patch, says the RHS (opens in new tab). This growth looks similar to some slime molds and red thread: other common, but different, lawn problems.

snow mold on lawn

Snow mold can be identified by yellowing patches and sometimes, a cotton-like growth

(Image credit: Nigel Cattlin/Alamy Stock Photo)

How to prevent snow mold

Snow mold is a common problem in the colder, wetter months, but following a good lawn care for winter routine will help keep your grass in good health. Tasks that will improve airflow and drainage are particularly helpful for combating it – for instance, aerating the lawn; clearing up leaves, and pruning back overhanging trees or shrubs. Don't forget to de-thatch the lawn in fall, too.

Snow mold often develops under a prolonged covering of snow. Because of this, it's wise to avoid creating deep piles on the lawn when you're clearing snow from your driveways or garden paths, suggests the experts at Scotts (opens in new tab).

Fertilizing a lawn at the right time with the right type of feed can also help. Using nitrogen-high feeds towards the end of summer and in autumn can encourage new leafy growth which is more susceptible to the disease, so avoid doing so.

Mowing your lawn a little shorter than usual in the run-up to winter can also help, suggests Scotts.

fork aerating lawn

Aerating your lawn can help to reduce the risks of snow mold developing

(Image credit: P Maguire/Alamy Stock Photo)

How to treat snow mold in your yard

If you've already spotted snow mold on your lawn, don't panic. Be aware that this disease can be spread across the lawn on shoes or tools though, warns the RHS, so take care to reduce this risk.

'You can kill the fungus with Bayer Garden Lawn Disease Control [available on Amazon] (opens in new tab), which will also treat the common fungal disease red thread and can be applied all year,' says John Negus, an expert from Amateur Gardening.

Use it in winter when you see the telltale signs, following the packet instructions, then feed your lawn with a balanced fertilizer in spring.

Dead areas of grass can be raked out, and damaged lawn patches can then be repaired with seed easily and cheaply.

raking snow mold from lawn

Gently rake out affected areas and re-seed

(Image credit: Tunatura/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)
Holly Crossley
Senior Content Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.