White or Gray Matted Web-Like Grass? It’s Snow Mold!

Gray Snow Mold

There are two types of Snow Mold that can develop on residential lawns, Pink and Grey. Although all grasses are susceptible to the diseases, they are most common on bluegrass, ryegrass, bentgrass and fescues. Pink Snow Mold, also called Microdochium Patch and Gray Snow Mold, also called Typhula Blight.

Although they are both associated with snow cover, Gray Snow Mold requires at least 60 days of snow cover for it to develop. Both types of Snow Mold are most severe when snow falls on unfrozen turf, but Pink Snow Mold can occur without snow cover during cool (less than 60 degrees) weather that is wet and cloudy.

Identifying Pink and Gray Snow Mold

Gray Snow Mold

Symptoms develop under the snow and become evident as it melts. This lawn disease appears in circular to irregular-shaped patches that can grow as large as 3 feet in diameter. The grass is covered with a white or gray fungal growth and the grass blades appear matted together. In severe cases, large sections of grass blades can be damaged and will take a long time to recover.

Pink Snow Mold

This disease appears in roughly circular-shaped patch that can range from a couple of inches to about a foot in diameter. The disease presents as a white patch with a pinkish ring on the outer border of the patch. The grass blades appear matted and look is if they are glued together. As thee patches dry out, they will feel hard to the touch.

How to Control and Prevent Snow Mold

Both diseases overwinter as spores in the patch layer, so reducing thatch levels is very important. Fall core aerations will help to reduce the thatch levels and improve the health of the turf by developing better root systems and reducing compaction. Avoid excessive nitrogen fertilizer in the late fall and continue mowing if the grass continues to grow. Overly long grass that falls over on itself is more likely to develop snow mold.

If possible, grind up leaves with your mower in the fall to recycle the nutrients back in to the soil. If it becomes too cold to continue mowing, but there are still many leaves on the lawn, do your best to rake them up before the snow starts to fall. Leaves left lying on the lawn provide great conditions for this grass disease to develop.

In most cases, an application of a disease control material is not warranted on residential lawns. Snow mold is usually not severe enough to warrant an application of a disease control material. If small sections of either gray or pink snow mold does develop, lightly break up the fungal mats with a leaf rake or even your fingers if the spots are not very large. If large snow piles remain on the lawn near driveways or sidewalks, do you best to distribute the snow across the lawn so that it melts faster.

Usually this lawn disease is a sign that winter is ending as it is generally seen when temperatures start to warm up and snow quickly melts. If you have any questions or would like us to check it out, don’t hesitate to contact your local Spring-Green. 

Found A Smelly Dark Tip Fungus? It’s Dog Stinkhorn!

dog stinkhorn

Their name doesn’t sound very appetizing, their shape certainly doesn’t help matters much, and their odor can be downright offensive. The genus Mutinus Caninus, also known as Dog Stinkhorn, are a rather unusual garden fungus. This unsavory member of the mushroom family can be recognized by it’s distinctive shape and terrible smell.

What is this dark tip smelly fungus?

They will be hard to miss if you have them. For those not well-versed in Latin, the scientific name describes the similarity of their shape to that of a male dog’s identifying anatomical characteristic. Stinkhorns are generally not considered to be edible and even if you are into mushrooms, you won’t likely confuse these with any of their appetizing relatives, nor will you find them terribly appealing.

Dog Stinkhorn mushrooms are found in the eastern US as well as Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. They usually show up in wooded areas as well as lawns or in mulched beds during the late summer and early fall. Stinkhorns get their name from the spore-rich slime that they produce at the tip. The unpleasant aroma of this slimy substance has been likened to that of decaying animal flesh or of cat droppings. Believe it or not, that nasty odor serves an important purpose: reproduction. Most mushroom varieties reproduce by distributing their spores on the wind.

By comparison, stinkhorns rely on insects to do the job. The same smell that repels people attracts flies and other insects that will land on the slime and feed on it. In the process, they get the spores all over their feet as well as into their digestive system. These insects then take off and spread the spores that they picked up to other areas via natural means. Although this method of distributing spores may not seem terribly appealing to us humans, it is quite effective.

Where Is Dog Stinkhorn Located?

While many stinkhorn fungus varieties are found in wooded areas, the Dog Stinkhorn can also be found among leaves and mulch as well as in rich, cultivated soils such as may be found in your lawn and landscape beds. Dog Stinkhorn mushrooms sprout from an off-white, tough, egg-shaped structure that develops at the ground level or slightly below, often amongst the leaves and mulch and usually out of sight. If you were to look closely enough, you would find that the “eggs” are attached to the soil by white cords called rhizomorphs.

After the bulb erupts, the fungus grows a slender, fragile stalk that can be white, pink or orange in color, with a dark tip that is usually curved and somewhat pointed. This growth can happen rather rapidly, sometimes over a period of several hours, which makes stinkhorns seem to appear from out of nowhere. The good news is that they have a very short life span and will also disappear rapidly.

Even though stinkhorn mushrooms are not considered edible—we certainly do not recommend trying to eat one—they are not poisonous, either. In fact they are very beneficial organisms. Other microorganisms in the soil feed on these, which improves the condition of your soil and ultimately, of you landscape plants. We could not in good conscience tell you to eradicate a beneficial lawn and garden organism. Therefore, there is no prescribed prevention or control for Dog Stinkhorn other than to wait a day or so for them to go away.

While mushrooms are seldom considered a threat to a healthy lawn and landscape, we still encourage you to call on your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green whenever you have questions or concerns. We are always happy to share our expertise and when necessary, we can diagnose and treat a wide variety of lawn and landscape issues, such as those caused by weeds, pests, and diseases.

Stinkhorns: What Is This Fungus Among Us?

stinkhorn in landscape

Earlier this summer, I spoke about slime molds growing in the mulch of landscape beds. The one that most people see is called Dog Vomit slime mold since the name describes the appearance of the slime mold—slimy, yellowish and gelatinous. Another type of fungal growth is showing up in a number of mulch beds right now – stinkhorns.

Stinkhorns are common in the US and usually show up in the late summer and early fall. They can form in lawns or in mulch beds. Stinkhorns get their name from the spore-rich slime that it produces at the tip, which attract flies and other insects. These insects feed on the slime and spread the spores that they pick up to other parts of the lawn and landscape.

How Long Do Stinkhorns Last?

Stinkhorns are short-lived organisms and last only about a day before shriveling up and dying. This particular stinkhorn grows from a whitish “egg” that forms in the mulch or organic matter. Even though they only live for a short time, they can produce a foul swelling odor to attract insects to it.

The type that is pictured here is often called a Dog Stinkhorn. Stinkhorns are saprophytes, the organisms that are responsible for composting or breaking down organic material. There are saprophytes that break down the fallen oak tree in the forest and there are saprophytes that breakdown the dead grass blades in your lawn. They are very beneficial organisms and are an integral part of the soil food web.

How Do I Control Stinkhorns?

There is really nothing you can do to control the growth of the stinkhorns in your mulch. They are truly beneficial organisms and help to provide food to other microorganisms that live in the soil, which in turn helps improve the health of your landscape plants. Luckily, they only live for a day, so the odor is not a long-lasting problem.

Spring-Green can help you control unwanted guests in your lawns and gardens—from ticks and mosquitoes to moss and weeds, Get in touch with your local Spring-Green for a free diagnosis and estimate.