These are the most common maladies lawns develop in the cold-weather months and what you can do to protect them.
Salt & De-Icing Damage
The solutions many homeowners use to clear ice from sidewalks and driveways often cause nearby grass to wilt and become straw-like. This will be easy to spot because grass along hardscaping will be affected, but the center of the yard will still be healthy.
To prevent this problem, carefully apply de-icing products, avoiding any contact with grass, and consider switching to a salt alternative that’s gentle on lawns.
If the damage is already done, give your grass a deep watering in the spring to help flush out any residual solution.
When heavy snow falls then lingers on lawns for periods of time, snow mold can grow. It typically gives grass a pink or gray look in fuzzy or crusty matted patches throughout the yard.
Snow mold will typically die off on its own in the spring, but you can speed up the process by raking these areas and aerating with a formula such as Thatch Buster.
When moist, warm weather is immediately followed by a sudden freeze, the crowns of turfgrass that have absorbed water can quickly freeze then expand — killing them.
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prevent crown hydration beyond switching to a cool-season turfgrass. If the damage is significant, you may need to reseed or resod in the spring.
When winter grass isn’t insulated by snow, it will continue to lose water and oxygen. Frozen roots can’t replenish moisture, causing cell death that turns grass tan or brown.
During cold, dry winters, you can protect your lawn by minimizing foot traffic and topdressing exposed areas.
Grass that’s already affected may recover on its own in the spring, but severe damage could require reseeding and re-sodding.