There are a number of ways adverse winter weather can hurt your lawn and landscape. They range from shrubs along the drive burned from the exhaust of a car warming up to diseases in the turf that can become active during Winter. Here are three ways your lawn can be damaged by winter weather:
- Frost – Traffic on grass covered by frost will cause damage and, in severe cases, dieback of the turf. At a minimum, walking across a nice, thick, green stand of grass that is heavily frosted will result in shoe shaped brown spots everywhere you stepped within a few days. These unsightly ‘footprints’ will often remain visible until new growth in the Spring.
- Snow – The biggest potential problem with accumulated snow centers around how long it remains on the grass. Similar to just about anything that is left on the grass for an extended period of time (leaf piles, tarps, heavy clippings, etc.), persistent piles of snow block sunlight and can physically damage turf. There isn’t much to be done about shady areas where the snow takes a long time to melt, but when shoveling walks and drives, try to distribute the snow rather than creating large piles on turf areas if possible.
- Ice – While ice that persists for long periods of time on the turf can cause the same injury as piles of snow (often the problems are magnified), the most common damage results from the use of salt and deicing products. After the ice has melted the residue can runoff into the surrounding grass. This can burn the turf and adversely change the surrounding soil chemically.
If you are concerned about the quality of your lawn over the winter months, you can prevent damage by
- Keeping off the grass when it is covered with frost;
- Distributing the snow as best you can when clearing walks and drives; and
- Avoiding the use of salt and harsh chemical ice melt products.