What Happens to Your Lawn During the Winter Months?

What Happens to Your Lawn During the Winter Months?



Crown Hydration continues to be one of the most destructive yet least preventable forms of winter kill that causes damage to a lawn.  Crown hydration commonly occurs during the late winter months when warmer daytime temperatures cause the snow to melt followed by rapid freezing temperatures.  The worst affected areas are in the low lying, poorly drained soils that are prone to standing water.  Under these conditions the turfgrass crown begins to absorb water and become saturated.  Extreme temperature fluctuations cause thawing and rapid refreezing creating ice crystals in the turfgrass plant cells that ultimately rupture and cause plant death.

Predicting when and how extreme damage could be from crown hydration is very difficult when considering temperature extremes and other environmental conditions that the turfgrass is faced with.   There is no exact science that determines under what circumstances crown hydration will cause the most damage or the turfgrasses ability to withstand the susceptibility.  Eliminating standing water by improving soil drainage is one of the best methods to help prevent crown hydration.  Proper fall fertilizing, can also help prepare and improve the turfgrass plants hardiness for the winter months that will reduce the susceptibility to damage as well.

Damage caused by crown hydration can vary from extreme turf death to minor damage where the turf can recover on its own.  As mentioned above, poorly drained soils, and low lying areas are commonly the worst affected that will require the most repair to fix the damage.  A combination of cultural practices such as core aeration, overseeding, slitseeding and topdressing will help with re-establishing the damaged turf.  If drainage or poor soil conditions exist, it is recommend to address these problems to help prevent possible damage from occurring in the future.

What Happens To Your Lawn During The Winter Months?

What Happens To Your Lawn During The Winter Months?

What Happens to Your Lawn During the Winter Months?


Have you ever thought about what happens to your lawn over the winter months when it is covered under ice and snow?  Or wonder why the lawn looks so bad in the spring after the snow melts when it looked so good in the fall?  Or Better yet, all the work you will need to do this spring to quickly get the lawn looking its best again?

To help answer these questions, it is important to outline what can and commonly does happen to your lawn during the winter.  Secondly, determining the what, where, why, when, and how things take place and the damaging effects they can have on your lawn is equally as important.   Understanding this can provide helpful insight on what can be done to help prevent these things from happening next winter, and help determine what course of action might be required to fix your damaged lawn.

Measuring Snow Coverage

Measuring Snow Coverage

Winter Kill is a common term used to describe turf damage that takes place during the winter.  A number of factors and a variety of conditions can contribute to winter kill resulting in moderate to severe turf damage depending on the circumstances.  Most people assume winter kill only happens if and when snow is covering the lawn.  This is not true.  Lawns covered with snow for months at a time certainly do see their fair share of turf damage, but snow alone is not the only factor that causes damage.

Highlighted over the next several blog posts, I will outline some of the most common types of winter damage and the steps to help your lawn recover if and when they do happen.  These include the following:

Snow Coverage

Ice Damage

Crown Hydration


Low Temperature Kill

Snow Mold Disease

Salt Damage

Vole Damage