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?


Extreme cold temperature conditions persisting for days, weeks and even months are nothing but normal to many parts of Canada during the winter months.  The winter of 2014 has proven to be this just this, with an exclamation point at the end of extreme cold temperatures lasting for months!  When the mercury dips below freezing the turfgrass plant is exposed to many extremes that can cause damage.  These freezing conditions cause damage, and Direct Low Temperature Kill is what this is known as.

The turfgrass plant in large part is comprised of water and when freezing temperatures occur, the water freezes forming ice crystals inside the turfgrass plant ultimately causing the damage.  Direct low temperature kill is most commonly a result when rapid drops in temperature occur, or when extreme cold temperatures persist.  Several factors can affect direct low temperature kill including:  the susceptibility of the turfgrass species, plant hardiness, rapidness of freezing, the number of times the plant freezes, and the rate of thawing.


Extreme Low Temperatures

Although there is no exact direct low temperature kill measurement or way to determine if, when, and how bad the damage could be, plant hardiness as it relates to turfgrass species tells us more about which species are more susceptible.  Creeping Bentgrass, and Kentucky Bluegrass are regarded as having very good plant hardiness whereas perennial ryegrass and fine fescue have poor plant hardiness in which case low temperature kill damage is a lot more apparent on these species.

An aggressive approach to speed up recovery in the damage areas include a combination of cultural practices.  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