Winter is the time that many forget about their lawn care. If it's buried under frost and snow, out of sight, out of mind, right? If you want a healthy, lush lawn in the spring, we'll be first to tell you to avoid that mindset. Here are some things you can do to prevent the most common causes of lawn damage in the winter.
- Leaf scorch or winter burn is common during the cold months. The cold temperatures and severe winter winds can dry out plants. Broadleaf evergreens are the most susceptible to leaf scorch and winter burn injuries.
Solution: Deep watering during the last days of fall to soak down into the root system. Woody plants are able to develop strong root systems when they’re properly watered.
- Frost heave. During late winter (or even early spring!), frost and freeze can damage trees and plants. This will happen when the temperatures warm enough to encourage growth for a little while, followed by a drop in temperatures and a late frost or freeze. This fluctuating temperature pattern can cause plants to be “heaved” from the soil.
Solution: Protect your plants from frost heave by covering them with 2-2.5 inches of mulch after your soil freezes to keep the soil cold. This may seem counterintuitive, but it will protect the soil from short-lived temperature changes, only warming when there are consistent elevated temperatures.
- Small animals, like rabbits, will sometimes eat tree bark and shrubs. It is also common for them to burrow deep into the ground to eat plant roots when they cannot find food above ground due to snow or ice.
Solution: By placing a plastic collar or hardware cloth around trunks of trees, you can protect them from munching bunnies. You can also spray repellant on the lower part of trees and shrubs to keep them away.
- Snow and ice can cause a multitude of problems. Most commonly, it is the weight from a heavy snow or layer of ice that will damage or break trees and shrubs.
Solution: Protect delicate evergreens by wrapping them in burlap or heavy twine. Just be sure to leave an opening at the top to allow sunlight in over the winter.
- Grass breakage can occur when grass is covered with heavy frost or ice and pressure (i.e. walking on it) is applied. This crushes the grass and causes damage to the blades.
Solution: Avoid walking on grass until the frost has thawed. This most commonly occurs in a path from the house to the garbage can, so try to find a time during the day that you can take out the trash.