What is Winter Kill and How Can I Protect My Lawn?

The type of irreversible damage suffered by lawns throughout the winter is called winter kill. This generalized statement includes a number of different forms of winter lawn damage. All of this lawn damage in the winter is caused by many different factors. These examples are the most common forms of winter kill for lawns here in Ohio.

Crown Hydration

Crown hydration will freeze your grass and cause winter kill in your Waterville, OH lawn.
Of all the forms of winter lawn damage that causes winter kill, crown hydration is probably the worst. Crown hydration is capable of wiping out huge portions of a yard over the winter. Late winter or early spring is the most common time for crown hydration to occur in the lawn. This type of winter lawn damage occurs when the temperature bounces between below and above freezing. Warmer weather causes the grass to sort of wake up. It starts to absorb moisture into the crown of the grass. When the temperatures drop to freezing again, the water in the crown freezes. This causes the cells in the crown to 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 properly care for and maintain your yard throughout the year. A healthy lawn has a better chance of making it through the winter than an unhealthy lawn. Invest in a lawn care program from Land-Art to set your lawn up to succeed throughout the year.

Winter Desiccation

Another terrible form of winter lawn damage that can lead to winter kill is desiccation. Winter desiccation is an extreme form of drying-out for the grass. This winter lawn damage happens most frequently when there is no snow cover 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 moisture 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 do protect areas of grass that are more at risk. What it ultimately comes down to is 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 through the winter.

Snow Mold

One of the most common forms of winter lawn damage is snow mold. Snow mold, depending on the type, can result in winter kill if not properly managed. This lawn fungus grows under the snow, on wet and matted down 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.

Snow mold prevention is your best chance at avoiding lawn damage and winter kill. Rake up any leaves, twigs, or other debris from your lawn before the snow hits. Avoid fertilizers that are high in nitrogen in the fall as this will feed the fungus too. Mow your grass shorter than usual on your last cut of the year to help prevent matting. Aeration in the fall helps relieve soil compaction and remove thatch from the grass. Soil compaction and thatch play a big part in the development of snow mold.

Vole Damage

Voles can be a big cause of winter kill in lawns here in the Waterville, OH area.
Finally, voles are responsible for some serious damage for such a small creature. These tiny rodents travel under the snow during the winter. Chewing up narrow runways in the grass as they feed. When the snow melts, you’ll see an elaborate array of thin paths throughout the lawn.

The good news is that vole damage is able to be easily repaired. Simply rake the area after the snow has melted and allow the grass to naturally grow back. Prevent voles from making your lawn home by removing lawn litter before the snow falls. Trim your shrubs up away from the ground to remove hiding places from potential predators. Mow your grass shorter than usual at the end of the year to reduce their hiding places.

Get Help From the Professionals at Land-Art

Here at Land-Art, we know the devastation that can happen to lawns over the winter. Winter lawn damage and winter kill can leave a lawn looking patchy and unhealthy. Luckily, we have the services to revitalize a lawn and prevent potential lawn damage. Aeration and overseeding services, weed control, and a lawn care program can help boost the health of your lawn. A healthy lawn is hardier and less likely to be damaged over the winter.

For more info, call us at 1 800 336-5296 or contact us here. For the most cutting-edge tips and tricks from the pros, check out our blog.