Eliminate Winter Kill on Your Lawn

Edited by Anonymous, vc, Eng, Dogsrock23000 and 1 other

The term winter kill refers to lawn damage that prevents grass from becoming green again in the spring. This damage is usually caused by a combination of several factors including winds, ice, snow, crown hydration, desiccation, snow mold, and compacted soil. Thankfully, you can repair and prevent winter kill.

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Steps To Repair A Lawn Suffering From Winter Kill

  1. 1
    De-thatch your lawn
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  2. 2
    Thatch is a layer of dead and living organic material mixed into your grass that is not healthy for your lawn.
    As soon as the danger of frost has passed, you can use a rake or de-thatcher to remove thatch. A rake will be sufficient for less than one inch of thatch. De-thatching allows you to get to soil and roots of your lawn for better treatment.
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  3. 3
    Replace Grass
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  4. 4
    Sprinkle grass seeds into small patches of dead grass, or use sod to fill in large, solid spaces.
    You may want to consider a new type of grass better suited to a cooler climate, if you think that applies to your lawn.
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  5. 5
    Replenish Your Lawn
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  6. 6
    Fertilize and water your lawn to encourage new, healthy growth.
    You should begin to see new growth and greener grass in two weeks.
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Tips and Tricks

How To Prevent Winter Kill

  • Winter kill can happen to any lawn, but it is less likely to happen to healthier lawns. Proper maintenance of the lawn all-year long makes grass stronger and harder to kill. To best prevent a re-occurrence of winter kill, try to narrow down the main cause of weakening.
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  • Anytime the outside temperature is less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit, ice forms on your lawn. This is fine for most lawns, but if the soil itself also reaches this temperature, or if the lawn freezes and thaws many times over the winter, the stress can damage your lawn enough to result in winter kill. Healthier grass may be better able to withstand this onslaught. You may also want to plant new grass that tolerates this weather better, such as Creeping Bentgrass or Rough Bluegrass.
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  • Thatch can cause winter kill because the growth and health of the grass has been hampered. Water, air, light, and fertilizers are largely wasted when layers of thatch rest between the nutrients and the soil. If you have a dense thatch layer, it is likely the culprit of weakened grass and winter kill. De-thatch cool season grasses in the fall and warm season grasses in the spring using a rake or power de-thatcher.
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  • You can easily prevent winter kill that is caused by over watering by cutting back on the amount you water your lawn after July. This will encourage the grass to grow longer, stronger roots. Water more heavily at one time and limit watering to between once a week to twice a week depending on when your grass begins to show strain from lack of water. A gray color, curling leaves, and footprints left in the grass signal stress. These are the best steps to watering.
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Crown Hydration

  • When snow melts and then refreezes, this can cause an over-abundance of water which then freezes inside and on the plant. If you find this happening frequently in your area, it may help to plant a grass that remains dormant during the winter such as Creeping Bentgrass. Dormant grasses don't suck up water and are less susceptible to the damages of freezing temperature.
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  • Mold can be distinguished from other causes of winter kill because it makes circular patterns of damage in your lawn. Gray snow mold is caused by extended periods of snow cover. Pink snow mold typically attacks the crown or base of the plant and does not require direct snow cover. If you believe mold caused the winter kill, you can apply a fungicide to prevent a repeat next winter. Consider planting Kentucky Bluegrass and Fescue flowering grasses because they stand snow mold better than other grass types.
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  • Grass in shaded areas may not grow strong enough to sustain winter damage. The lawn has been struggling all year due to lack of light and just can't take any more. It may be less stressful on you to simply replace the grass with mulch or hardscape. If you really want grass there, you could try planting a more shade-resistant grass in that spot.
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Uneven Lawns

  • Low-lying areas that collect water can make grass susceptible to weakening and freezing. Lawns areas that are high and allow a lot of runoff can also result in weaker grass from desiccation, absorbing less nutrients, and being more exposed to the cold, wind, and frost. To fix this, you could try to compensate for what the grass is missing or even out the land. Leveling your lawn is not as difficult as it sounds, but it will require growing whole new patches of grass.
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Compacted Soil

  • Compacted soil from old vehicle traffic or areas where large items once sat can have an adverse effect on your lawn for decades after the original damage occurred. If you think this is a problem in your lawn, till the soil before reseeding or sodding. Aerating the soil under still living grass can help it to strengthen before winter comes.
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Herbicides And Harmful Substances

  • Your soil may have been contaminated from a herbicide or other harsh chemical. This should be evident by only occurring in areas where the chemical was applied. You will need to dig up the dead grass, remove at least an inch of topsoil, and add new, healthy soil before planting new grass.
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Centipede Grass

  • If you have Centipede grass, an inappropriate mow height may lead to weakened grass and a higher potential for winter kill. Centipede grass is considered too tall at more than one and a half inches of height. Replace the dead grass with new and mow to the proper height.
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  • Choosing the right grass, proper maintenance, and sometimes minor changes to the landscape promote the healthiest lawns. Winter kill is not a single problem, but a crucial factor in a much larger problem. The stronger the lawn is, the harder it will be for winter kill to take its toll. Begin protecting your lawn today.

Questions and Answers

I have kentucky blue grass, there are yellow spots appearing everywhere! We had a lot of snow and I am afraid that it is some kind of mold! HELP?

What do you think this is? What can I do to get rid of it?. I have tried: Mowing, watering, fertilizing!. I think it was caused by: All of the snow, if not I don't know

Cool-weather conditions can, indeed, cause fungal diseases in Kentucky bluegrass. Check the tips below for some typical diseases where yellow spots appear on leaf blades.

  1. 1
    Rust Ruin.
    It can be a fungal disease Rust Ruin. To identify it, check the ends of leaf blades: with Rust Ruin, they turn yellow. There can be patches of yellow, red, and orange spores on the blades. To get rid of Rust Ruin, provide enough light and air to the grass.
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  2. 2
    Fusarium patch.
    Identify the disease by circular and water-soaked 1-3-inch (3-5-cm) spots. Then, they turn yellow, red, or dark brown. These patches may enlarge in diameter over time. There can be white or pale pink fungal growth the patch. To cure your grass, apply fungicide in autumn and continue to mow the turf until it stops growing. Remove thatch. Ensure that the soil is phosphorus- and potassium-rich, but make sure that alkaline levels are not too high.
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  3. 3
    Yellow (brown) patch.
    To identify the disease, check for large yellow or bronze patches (up to feet (more than 30 cm) in diameter). The shape of the patches are concentric rings, crescent shapes, or frog eyes. There can be white fungal growth down in the turf canopy. At the edge of patches, leaves of Kentucky bluegrass often turn red or purple starting from the tip. Ensure that the soil is phosphorus- and potassium-rich, but make sure that nitrogen levels are low. To cure your grass, apply fungicide in autumn. Do not apply a lot of nitrogen in summer. Avoid keeping the grass wet for more than 6 hours. Irrigate it in the morning. Keep the thatch at 0.5 inch (1 cm). You can also use resistant cultivars when planting.
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  • You can use https://images.google.com to find pictures of any disease.
  • If you are having diagnosis troubles, contact a plant disease diagnostic laboratory.

Given the patches we have it might be winter burn. Should we be simply reseeding with new soil?

Last year we pulled out the dead sod in the backyard of our new house. We put fresh top soil down and reseeded. We now have some dead patches, some 3ft square - all different sizes. We live in northern Ontario - so cold winters, but this year was off and on. Also, the area has a lot of Oak Trees and also large natural granite rock. Might the Oak Trees and Granite Rock be causing the problem? If we reseed what should we use?. I have tried: Totally put new top soil and reseeded last summer.. I think it was caused by: Oak Trees, Run off from the Granite Rock, Hard ground soil

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Categories : Gardening

Recent edits by: Dogsrock23000, Eng, vc

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