Winters in Bowling Green, Ohio, can be downright cold and brutal. And not just for us but also for our lawns. Dry air and an abundance of snowfall can spell disaster for our grass, causing what is known as winterkill. Winterkill is a generalized statement that includes several different forms of winter lawn damage. Here is a list of some of the most common forms of winter kill we see here in Bowling Green.
Let’s start with snow mold. Depending on the type, snow mold can result in winter kill if not properly managed. It is a lawn fungus that grows under the snow on wet and matted grass. It doesn’t reveal itself until the snow finally melts in the spring. The two major types of snow mold are pink snow mold and gray snow mold. Pink snow mold is especially dangerous to grass as it attacks the crown and can result in winter kill.
Because snow mold targets lawns with soil compaction and thatch, your best chance to avoid this unsightly fungus are through the proper lawn techniques:
- When fertilizing, try to avoid using too much nitrogen as that can increase your chances of growing fungi.
- Rake up any leaves, twigs, or other debris from your lawn before the snow hits.
- Mow your grass shorter than usual on your last cut of the year to help prevent matting.
- And have your lawn aerated in the fall to help relieve soil compaction and remove thatch from the grass.
Crown hydration is by far the worst type of winter kill here in Bowling Green. It is capable of wiping out huge portions of your yard over the winter. Typically it occurs in late winter or early spring when the temperature bounces below and above freezing. This is because of the fluctuating weather patterns we receive during this time of year. If we receive warm weather, the grass will start to wake up. It begins absorbing moisture into the crown of the grass. But when the temperatures drop below freezing again, the water in the crown freezes. When this happens, the cells in the crown rupture, causing irreversible damage to the grass, also known as winter kill.
The bad news is that there isn’t much we can do to prevent crown hydration from occurring. Your best course of action is to care for and maintain your yard throughout the year properly. A healthy lawn has a better chance of making it through the winter than an unhealthy lawn. Invest in a lawn care program that contains fertilizer and weed control to help your turf stay strong and robust throughout the entire year.
Winter Desiccation of Your Bowling Green Lawn
Another terrible form of winter lawn damage that can lead to winter kill is desiccation. Winter desiccation is when your Bowling Green turf dries out too much. This winter, lawn damage happens most frequently when there is no snow cover to act as a blanket of protection, but the temperatures are still below freezing. Without adequate snow cover, the dry winter winds sap moisture from grass blades. The frozen ground blocks the grass from replenishing the water it lost. Over an extended period of time, this results in the death of the plant.
Just like crown hydration, winter desiccation is a form of winter kill that’s difficult to prevent. It’s possible to use a windscreen to protect areas of grass that are more at risk, which often makes sense for athletic fields, golf courses, and frequently used sites. For most of us with residential lawns, it ultimately comes down to assessing the damage in the spring and then repairing it. The best way to prevent winter desiccation is by boosting the health of your lawn throughout the year. Consistent fertilization, proper irrigation, and weed control will help the grass get healthy and stay healthy throughout the winter. Stronger grass is better able to bounce back in the spring.
Damage From Voles
Voles are tiny rodents that travel under the snow during the winter and chew up narrow runways in the grass as they feed. These runways are typically above the soil, cutting through your turf, creating one-inch wide tunnels made of grass. The voles will chew the grass down to the soil in these tunnels, creating winding and unsightly patterns across your lawn.
Fortunately, vole damage is quick and easy to repair. Simply rake the area after the snow has melted and allow the grass to grow back naturally. You can help prevent voles from making your lawn their home by removing lawn litter before the first snowfall. Trim your shrubs up away from the ground to remove hiding places from potential predators. Lastly, mow your grass shorter than usual at the end of the year to reduce possible hiding places.
Prevent Winter Kill With Quality Lawn Care Service From Land Art
If you are looking to protect and prevent your Bowling Green lawn from different forms of winter kill, invest in Land Art’s comprehensive lawn care service. Our lawn care service consists of five treatments applied six to eight weeks apart starting in spring. During each treatment, you will get a slow-release granular fertilizer, pre, and post-emergent crabgrass control, as well as regular insect inspections and treatments as needed.
For our friends in central Ohio, such as Powell, we offer a 6-step granular slow-release fertilizer program. It too starts in the spring and ensures a green, healthy, weed-free lawn.
We also recommend having your Ohio lawn aerated in the fall to combat soil compaction and thatch, two key components that increase the likelihood of winter kill. We offer both traditional and liquid aeration to help strengthen roots and promote a healthy lawn.
For more tips and information regarding lawn care, check out our other monthly blog articles.