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Things to Look for in Your Winter Lawn


Itís true that thereís less maintenance you need to worry about when your grass seed lawn is in its winter dormancy. But that doesnít mean you canít stop worrying about potential damage done to your lawn. There are many different ways a lawn can suffer during the winter, and often the damage will be worse than when it is actively growing. Your lawn care should still be daily and the daily task will be to examine your lawn. The list below highlights some common problems lawns experience during the winter and how you can spot them.

Salt damage

Is there a lot of snow piled on your lawn? Do the snowplows use a lot of rock salt, or do you when you are shoveling pathways to your home? If spring is close, does the grass still look brown or is it having a hard time greening up? If so, try to flush out the excess salts with a good, deep irrigation. Use less salt next year, and shovel more.

Vole damage

Are there traces of burrows or tunnels across your lawn? Does the grass look ragged or chewed? A vole population may have invaded your lawn. Keep the grass cut short, especially around the perimeter, and donít mulch heavily or allow the snow to get too high.

Winter annual weeds

Are there any new plants that are taking advantage of the cooler temperatures and a thin, dormant lawn? Pull them out before they have a chance to seed, or use an herbicide to control them. A nonselective herbicide may be used on a completely dormant warm season lawn, while a selective herbicide must be used on cool-season lawns or a partially dormant warm season lawn.


Does the lawn come up easily if you pull on it? Are there more than 6 grubs in a square foot of lawn or thatch? Grubs tend to burrow deeper into the soil during the winter and return to the thatch layer in the spring. Try to culturally or biologically control the grubs before you use a pesticide.


Does the lawn look brown and thin? Has there been no snow cover or rain for several months? Desiccation, or winter drought, can kill a lawn. Irrigate your lawn every 4 to 6 weeks during winter drought conditions. Water in the middle of the day and when temperatures are at least 40ļF.

Ice Damage

Are there areas of your lawn that have been under ice cover for more than 60 days? Have those areas not recovered? Standing water that freezes over grass is composed of ice crystals that can puncture crown cells. Reseed if necessary, and improve your drainage for the following year through aeration or subsurface draining.


Are there discolored patches of grass or mold growing on your lawn? There are quite a few fungi pathogens that prefer the cooler temperatures of winter. Keeping your lawn healthy will be the best prevention against disease. Use fungicides only if recommended by experts, and reseed if necessary. This list will help your grass stay healthy in the winter months and into the spring. You'll have a great foundation to start the Spring seeding process and your lawn will look terrific for the Spring and Summer.

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