What Happens to Your Lawn When Winter Weather Hits

Submitted on December 19, 2018

Most Canadians aren’t giving much thought to their lawns during the winter months. In the colder regions of the country, lawns can be covered in snow for 3-4 months with western regions experiencing light snow and frost. Either way, you might be wondering what happens to your lawn during the chillier winter months. Read on below for answers from Weed Man Lawn Care!

Dormancy

The first thing that happens to your turf is that it goes into dormancy or “goes to sleep”. You will notice that your lawn will gradually stop growing in mid-late fall. This is because the growing conditions are no longer favourable with reduced sunlight and cooler temperatures. Your lawn shuts down and turns brown to conserve its water and nutrients to survive. Fun fact, this can also happen during the hot summer months if your lawn is not getting enough water.

Damage

Once the weather changes it is susceptible to a few kinds of winter damage:

Ice damage occurs as a result of freezing rain or the melting and refreezing of snow, especially in areas with poor drainage. Long durations of ice coverage can result in plant death. The full extent of the damage is often seen in the spring and requires reseeding.

Winter desiccation occurs when the lawn is in a dormant state and the grassroots are unable to supply the plant with enough water. This often occurs when there is no snow coverage, but dry and windy conditions are present. Without snow coverage, the lawn does not have any moisture or protection from harsh conditions, leaving the turf exposed to the elements.

Salt damage occurs as a result of the road salt that is put down to melt ice and snow. The lawn’s perimeter is often the area that is most affected. The salt removes moisture from the plant and prevents the absorption of beneficial nutrients.

Snow mould is a fungal lawn disease that often occurs in early spring as snow melts away. The turf appears to have brown, pink or grey matted down areas in circular patches. These spots often recover quickly as your lawn recovers from its dormant state.

The harsh temperatures and conditions of the winter season can be tough on turfgrass, potentially causing some damage to your lawn. In the springtime, consider aerating and overseeding to help repair any damage that was sustained over the cooler months.

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