How Cold Winter Conditions Damage Lawns

How Cold Winter Conditions Damage Lawns

For years, homeowners have questioned the Spring damage they find as Winter subsides, temperatures warm and the landscape begins to grow. A beautiful fall lawn can now look damaged, thinned out with areas of completely dead grass. How does this happen? What is going on in the winter months that results in this damage?

There are several factors, leading to winter damage:

  • First, as cold winter winds rake across open landscapes, the water inside tender grass plants can be lost through dehydration (desiccation). Without water, the grass plant cannot carry out vital plant growth activity, pick up and store nutrients and survive. The result of this desiccation can be plant death. And the results are obvious when the snow melts in the Spring.
  • Trails of raised, dead-looking turf are usually the product of small, mouse-like varmints called Voles that tunnel across lawns in winter, destroying roots as they leave behind unsightly tunnels.
  • In some cases, snow mold disease can leave behind circular gray or pink patches of matted turf; This is the result of disease activity when temperatures remain between 28 and 45 degrees with adequate moisture for several days or weeks. Snow, itself, is not required for the development of snow mold disease. The good news is, after raking up the matted turf and applying a complete fertilizer in Spring, nearly all lawns do recover.
  • Excessive leaf cover from deciduous trees left on the lawn. Leaves should be raked and removed from the lawn or mulched using a power mower.  Leaves will tend to collect along fence lines or plants that catch the leaves.  If there is an excessive buildup of leaves in certain areas the lawn may get smothered, resulting in dead, patchy areas.

A variety of conditions, therefore, can lead to winter damage on home lawns. For more information, click here.