What is Winter Kill? Your Guide to Winter Lawn Damage in Pennsylvania

A term that you’ll often hear in the late winter and early spring in Pennsylvania is “winter kill”. So, what is winter kill? Winter kill is just a description of anything that causes death and destruction to the grass, plants, and trees during the winter. There are a number of different causes of winter kill, all of which can be devastating. Check out our tips and tricks to identify and prevent the winter lawn damage in Pennsylvania that causes winter kill.

Winter Desiccation

One of the most devastating forms of winter lawn damage in Pennsylvania is winter desiccation. Winter desiccation causes winter kill in lawns every year and there’s very little that can be done about it. Winter desiccation happens when the temperatures are well below freezing but there is no snow cover. A layer of snow over your grass helps retain moisture and protect the grass from the beating sun. Without the snow cover, the sun and dry wind rip the moisture right out of the blades of grass. The freezing temperatures and frozen ground prevent the grass from absorbing more water, eventually leading to dehydration, drying out, and death.

Preventing winter desiccation requires a full year of lawn care and maintenance. Because winter desiccation is caused by the weather, it’s up to you to keep your lawn healthy enough throughout the year to be strong enough to withstand the rigors of winter. Boost your lawn’s health with perfectly-timed fertilization and keep your lawn safe from weeds, pests, and lawn diseases.

Snow Mold

Another form of winter lawn damage in Pennsylvania is snow mold. Snow mold is a fungus that grows best in cold, wet conditions. Under a layer of snow, in the matted and damp grass, is a perfect habitat for this fungus. When the snow melts, you’ll see patches of moldy, wet grass. Gray snow mold has white or gray web-like mold growing on the grass, whereas pink snow mold is either copper-colored, pink, or red.

Protect your lawn from snow mold by keeping your lawn healthy all year. Fertilization, weed control, pest control, and disease monitoring are essential to creating a healthy foundation for your turf. Fall lawn maintenance is the most important way to prevent snow mold. Rake and remove any lawn debris and leaves because these are perfect places for mold to grow once the snow starts to fly. Mow your lawn until the end of the season, being sure to mow until the grass stops growing. Shorter grass means less matting, another perfect environment for snow mold. Finally, get your lawn aerated in the fall! Fall aeration aids in helping to remove excess thatch and improves soil drainage. However, aeration is not a replacement for dethatching and should not be used as such. Please contact our office for further information.

Vole Damage

Voles are another common cause of extensive winter lawn damage in Pennsylvania. Voles are tiny, mouse-like rodents that munch on the grass in your yard throughout the winter. Under the cover of snow, voles chew paths out of the grass as they eat away at the leaves, crown, and roots of your turf. In the spring, you may be shocked to find intersecting paths of chewed and dead grass throughout your lawn.

The good news about vole damage is that the grass tends to grow back right away. Give it a little help by going over the area with a rake to break up the dead and chomped grass. For extreme cases, you may need to reseed a few spots. Preventing voles from damaging your lawn in the winter requires fall lawn maintenance. Remove common hiding places, like low hanging branches on trees and shrubs. Mow your lawn until it has completely stopped growing because voles are less likely to invade a lawn with shorter grass.

Crown Hydration

One of the worst forms of winter lawn damage in Pennsylvania is crown hydration. This type of damage occurs when temperatures go above freezing for a period of time and then rapidly drop back below freezing. This rapid temperature change confuses the grass. The warm temperatures wake it up, causing it to start absorbing and storing water in the crown. When the temperatures plummet, the water freezes and destroys the waterlogged plant cells in the crown. This causes extensive winter kill in the lawn.

This nasty form of winter lawn damage in Pennsylvania is difficult to control because of its dependence on the weather; however, proper lawn care in the spring, summer, and fall aids you during the winter months when your lawn is doing battle with Mother Nature. Make sure you provide the lawn with the right fertilizers at the right time of the year and be sure to control the weeds and pests as well. Keep your lawn stress-free all year to make it strong enough to withstand the dreaded Pennsylvania winter.

Keep Your Grass Safe From Winter Lawn Damage

Preventing winter lawn damage in Pennsylvania is a year-round job. Keeping your grass, plants, and trees safe from winter kill requires proper lawn care and maintenance throughout the year to ensure your lawn is as strong and healthy as possible before the winter. Here at Lawn Rx, we have the lawn care program and aeration services needed to give your Pennsylvania lawn the best chance at success.

Call us today at 724-539-1003 or request a free estimate here. If you want to be the first to know about our upcoming deals and news, then follow us on Facebook. For more helpful tips on everything lawn related, check out our expert blog.