When the grass is whiter on the other side

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Want a great lawn? Don't ignore discolored grass blades. No white paint is involved here, or snow, but powdery mildew. 

Who notices lawn in winter?!

My helper and I were out doing a few last things in the yard this week, on a really nice day, probably 40 degrees, no snow on the ground

At one point we both noticed the neighbor's grass, in the narrow strip between our two homes where there's no line except where we each stop mowing. The lawn there looks almost like there was a bit of snow there or like someone sprayed over the top of it with paint, as some of the blades are white. Whatever is going on, it looks like it's moving into our yard. Is it something to be worried about?

It was great to be out doing things, like you said about going out and looking around even in winter. However, we wish we'd found little pansies like you did, not problems! - N. -

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A better look.


That may be powdery mildew. We, too have seen this fungus revel in a mild fall. 

However, although mildew can cause trouble in a lawn, unless the lawn's weak for other reasons it won't be a major problem.

Your lawn may be weak on several levels. Grass between homes is often shaded by the buildings most of the day. There may also be so much foot traffic that the soil becomes packed down and the plants languish because their roots don't get much air. Low light and packed-down soil are two strikes against a lawn

Count a third strike if the lawn includes mildew-prone bluegrass cultivars 'Merion,' 'Baron,' 'Cheri,' 'Kenblue' and others.

What you can do is strengthen the lawn, starting in spring. Shore up its overall vigor and introduce some improved seed. Then, if it should lose some foliage each year when wet, cloudy, cool conditions favor fungus growth, it will be able to fill back in during drier, warmer, sunnier, periods.


More on powdery mildew from University of Rhode Island Extension.

Good advice from University of Illinois Extensio.

And there's more in our collection, Asking About Asters. If you have this collection on CD or in its original book form, find it under "mildew" in the index. (This material will eventually be here on our website. Since it's already been made available and we have a lot more to post that hasn't been "out there", the CD's components are last in line.)


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