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Recovering your lawn from winter woes

May 8, 2014
By MOLLIE WARNER - Times Leader Staff Writer , Times Leader

The past winter was fierce, with colder than average temperatures and seemingly never-ending snowfall. As a result, lawns have suffered. Here are some tips to help your lawn recover so you can have a beautiful yard for the summer season.

"Dethatch" as soon as possible. Dethatching simply refers to raking away dead grass. Once dead grass is removed, new grass can begin to grow. If dethatching does not occur, new grass attempting to grow will be stifled.

Since this winter was especially brutal, yards may have developed snow mold, a kind of fungus that kills grass after snow melts. Before doing anything else, treat the affected areas (they're generally dead and brown) with fungicide.

"It usually looks like a bit of a fuzzy web-like mass is growing on top of the blades," writes Kyle Tobin of

After the mold is killed, the grass will usually begin to grow again and repair itself, since snow mold affects the bent portions on top of grass, not the roots.

Let it grow. Instead of mowing your lawn at the first sight of growth, give it some time to fill out and re-establish itself. When the grass is finally lush, mow the lawn at the highest possible setting.

Clean up the flower garden, but don't jump the gun on mulching. Flowering perennials should be cut down to a height of four or five inches. Pull out any dead annuals, and clean up the area around the remaining ones by removing leaves and other debris. Allow the garden to warm itself until late spring, the best time to put down new mulch. If mulch is put down sooner, it can disrupt the ground's own warming process.

Heavy snow and ice may have led to cracked branches on trees and shrubbery. It's best to prune these branches off yourself, as a clean pruning cut heals faster than a tree's torn branch. Prune the broken branch back to the main part of the tree, or for shrubs, prune the branch to the closest set of leaves.

If you are planning to plant new flowers or install a vegetable garden, wait until after the last frost. This can be difficult to predict, but waiting until late May is usually safe.

Warner may be reached at



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