Too Much Fertilizer Last Fall! Should have gone Organic with the Lawn.
I’m kind of surprised at how little snow mold we’ve seen this spring here in the North East. With so much snow fall this winter and the way we had covered lawns for such a long period of time , it’s really been a minor issue on most lawns.
Most lawns that is! Even though snow mold is a relatively wimpy disease and will almost always grow out it can really take away from the appearance of a lawn deep into the spring time. The picture here is of a lawn in front of a strip mall near my home. The landscaper does a great job maintaining it and when they mow it just right it really looks tops! I’ve watched them maintain it for the last few years and I admire how nice it really looks.
Here is the draw back though. When you take into consideration the “too much is never enough” philosophy of chemical lawn care this is a perfect example! I’ve never actually seen the company who maintains the property perform a fertilizer treatment but I do know that it is on a typical chemical program. (My bank is in this plaza and I’ve seen the fertilizer all over the parking lot after applications have been done.) The deal here is that the applicator really cranks up the rate of the fertilizer when doing a treatment. I guess the thought process is that if the lawn looks this good now, it can look even better if it gets even more fertilizer than it should. The irrigation system is always chugging away and there were times last year when it was really glowing!
That was all good and well until this spring when the snow melted. This lawn is loaded, and I mean, loaded with gray snow mold. The turf is matted down and it just looks awful. I’m pretty sure it will grow out but it’s going to take some time. I really hope the landscaper doesn’t take a look at this and think that they should break out the mechanical dethatcher because that will only make it worse. Too much nitrogen applied to a lawn, especially water soluble synthetic nitrogen can have as much of a negative impact on a lawn as a positive one. The snow mold on this turf is clearly a result of over fertilizing last fall. In other words, I think you could say it legitimately has a hangover. When most lawns in the area are coming out of dormancy and looking very green, this one looks awful.
The drug metaphor always applies when you are talking about chemical lawn care. Too much can really make you feel like a million bucks temporarily but it always comes with a cost. I can honestly say that if this lawn was treated organically last year it may not have reached the glowing nuclear green highs that I saw last season but it certainly wouldn’t be struggling the way it is now.
Organic lawn care takes a much more holistic approach to caring for turf. In place of forcing growth through water soluble nitrogen fertilizers, growth is created by caring for the soil. Healthy soil, which is biologically active and not sterile from the over application of chemicals can maintain the nitrogen demands for turf easily. It also, for the most part, makes snow mold a thing of the past.