Depending on what part of the country you live in, the amount of snow coverage and the length of time the lawn is covered by snow can be significantly different region by region. The majority of Canada with the exception of the coastal regions in British Columbia regularly experience consistent snowfall and snow coverage for the better part of 3 – 4 months (specifically December through March). With that being said, these areas can be faced with winter kill damage that’s caused by snow coverage.
Generally speaking, when a lawn is covered with snow vs. not being covered during the harsh winter months it is usually regarded as a positive considering the lasting effects other factors can have on a lawn. Consistent snow coverage acts similar to a blanket and helps insulate the grass plants and their roots from cold temperature extremes. Exposure to these temperature extremes, combined with wind, ice, and freeze/thaw conditions can be very damaging without snow coverage.
Snow Mold Damage
Although snow provides protection against low temperature kill, wind desiccation, ice damage, and crown hydration, conversely snow coverage can help contribute to the likes of snow mold disease, and vole damage. The same blanket effect that acts as a positive insulating the lawn as mentioned earlier, can have a negative effect providing optimal conditions for snow mold disease to transpire, and voles to tunnel their way across the lawn. Prolonged snow coverage directly contributes to both Pink and Grey Snow Mold Disease. The damage caused by snow mold is generally not considered severe and often times looks far worse than it really is. The lawn typically recovers on its own in the early spring with minor renovation practices required only for the areas worst affected.
Vole Damage is another common problem that can be an un-pleasant surprise after the snow cover melts in the spring. Voles tunnel along the surface of the lawn protected by the snow coverage and create turf damage from the surface tunnelling traffic and by feeding on the grass plants tissue. Voles do not feed on the roots or crown of the grass plant and therefore the damage they cause is not considered severe and recovery can take place on its own or with minor renovation practices.