What Happens to Your Lawn During the Winter Months?

What Happens to Your Lawn During the Winter Months?


Add winter desiccation to the long list of what can happen to your lawn during the winter months.  Winter Desiccation takes place when the turfgrass plant is in its dormant or semi-dormant stages and can cause varying degrees of damage severity.  All turfgrass species are prone to winter desiccation if the right conditions persist.  Winter Desiccation occurs when the leaves and other parts of the turfgrass plant are damaged often to the point of death because its roots are unable to supply enough water to keep up with the amount of water the turfgrass plant is losing to the atmosphere.

Prolonged snow coverage during the winter months is considered ideal and certainly helps reduce the risk of desiccation damage.  Snow provides valuable moisture, and acts like a blanket, insolating the turfgrass and covering it from the potential harsh winter winds and unfavorable conditions.   Without snow coverage, preventing damage from desiccation is difficult if susceptible site conditions exist or the weather conditions are less than ideal.  The most severe damage typically occurs when there is no snow coverage and Dry, windy conditions persist.  Generally, the worst affected spots in the lawn are in elevated areas, on exposed slopes, and well drained sites in sandy soils.

The extent of the desiccation damage can range from minor to severe.  If minor damage has occurred, the lawn should recover on its own during the spring when the lawn begins to actively grow and break dormancy.  If major damage has occurred, aggressive renovation practices will be required to repair these areas.  Cultural practices such as Core Aeration, Overseeding, Topdressing and Slitseeding may be required.

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