On Watch: Winter Lawn Diseases

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On Watch: Winter Lawn Diseases

Now that the bulk of your lawn preparations for spring have been done, what’s there left to do? Don’t think that in winter when your lawn likely goes dormant that you’re in the clear until spring rolls around because winter lawn diseases are out there, ready to strike! Here’s how to spot potential problems with your lawn and what you can do to keep it healthy until spring finally arrives.

The Potential Problems

There are a number of things that can damage your lawn in the winter. The most common include:

  • Snow mold – If you notice a gray or pink crust on your lawn after the snow recedes, then you may have snow mold. This often goes away once the snow melts and the grass dries out, but it may have already done enough damage to be noticeable.
  • Crown hydration – If you have had warm weather followed immediately by a sudden freeze, then your lawn is at risk for crown hydration. This is when the grass absorbs a lot of water and then the water suddenly freezes, which kills the crown of the grass. It is the most common problem lawn face in the winter, especially in certain areas of the country.
  • Winter desiccation – If you notice brown or tan leaves or dead crowns on your turf, then this may be the problem. It occurs when the ground is frozen and doesn’t allow waste products to be removed from the leaves and water cannot make it from the roots to the leaves either, causing damage or death.
  • Voles – These furry little pests love to create tiny runways on your lawn right beneath the layer of snow. You can tell you have a vole infestation if there are areas where the grass roots have been eaten and narrow, trampled bands of grass are damaged.

What to Do

The treatment for any problems you encounter in the winter really depends on the extent of the damage. When spring rolls around you may need to reseed. If a large area of grass has died, then resodding may be needed.

If snow mold continues to be a problem even after the snow melts away, then you need to work on improving your lawn’s drainage. You should aerate and dethatch your lawn in the spring to help improve air circulation. For voles, you can bait or trap them if they continue to be a problem. If all else fails, consider a cat.

Winter isn’t simply a time when you can ignore your lawn. It may be asleep but look at all that happened around Sleeping Beauty when she was put to sleep by the evil Queen – the world around you doesn’t stop, even on the most bitter of winter days. Be diligent so you know what steps you must take once spring arrives so you don’t have to battle any dragons.

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