The harsh winter weather in Massachusetts can be brutal for both us and our lawns. The frigid temperatures, snow, and wind can wreak havoc on your turf. And because most of us are not outside playing or enjoying our backyards during this time of year, it often occurs without us knowing. Read on to discover the common causes of winter damage, how it happens, how you can prevent it, and what you, as a Marlborough homeowner, can do to fix it.
Does Snow Harm Our Marlborough Lawns?
Here in Massachusetts, we primarily have cool-season grasses. These grasses grow best in climates that experience mild summers and colder winters. During the fall, cool-season grasses begin storing up essential nutrients. When the temperatures outside become consistently below 45 degrees, cool-season grasses go dormant. These essential nutrients stored in the roots of your turf will help your lawn to survive the next few months. While common sense logic tells us that a layer of snow would be bad, it actually helps shield your grass from the wind and cold, acting as an added layer of protection from the harsh winter elements. It also traps moisture and nutrients in, keeping your grass healthy and fed.
Snow becomes bad when fungi such as snow mold start to form underneath the layers of snow, creating unsightly grey and pink spots.
Snow mold occurs when the ground isn’t frozen but heavy amounts of snow fall to the ground. The weight of the snow pushes down on the grass, creating a stressful situation for your turg. Because of that residual warmth from the not-completely-frozen earth, the air pockets under the snow create ideal temperatures for microscopic snow mold to thrive. If there are grass clippings, fallen leaves, or thatch build-up, all those things will increase the likelihood of snow mold appearing.
Gray Snow Mold and Pink Snow Mold
Snow mold comes in two varieties, gray snow mold, and pink snow mold also known as Microdochium patch or Fusarium patch. Both types of snow mold create six to eight-inch patches of water-soaked turf. Grey mold creates whitish-gray patches while pink snow mold appears pinkish. In addition, the patches appear matted down and are often covered with a layer of crust.
How To Prevent Snow Mold
To avoid snow mold infections, make sure you perform proper fall lawn care before the snow hits. Rake leaves and lawn debris before the first snowfall and avoid using nitrogen-heavy fertilizers in the late fall. Mow properly throughout the summer and in the fall, cut it a tad shorter to prevent excessive matting. And avoid dumping snow in large piles. The weight of heavy snow can cause stress on your grass and result in crown breaking and roots dying.
As bad as snow mold can be, facing a winter with no snow can be just as dreadful. When there is no snow cover to protect your grass from the cold dry winds, winter desiccation can occur. This dehydration of your turf occurs when temperatures are below freezing, and the dry winds and sun rip the moisture right out of the grass blades. The freezing temperatures and frozen ground prevent the grass from absorbing more water leading to massive hydration.
Because we can’t predict the weather and force snow to fall from the sky, your best line of defense against winter desiccation is to keep your lawn strong. Utilizing an effective lawn care program that includes the right amounts of fertilizer timed during the appropriate times of the year will go a long way in keeping your turf healthy and robust. A healthy and robust lawn will better withstand the climate stress Marlborough faces and bounce back when damage is done.
Another form of winter lawn damage here in Marlborough is crown hydration. Crown hydration occurs when temperatures go above freezing for a period of time and then rapidly drop below freezing again. These types of temperature fluctuations happen often here in Massachusetts, especially in late spring. Like us, the grass gets confused by these ups and downs. When warm temperatures occur, as often the case in March, your grass wakes up, starts absorbing water, and stores it in the crown. When the temperatures plummet, the water freezes and destroys the waterlogged plant cells in the crown. This causes extensive damage killing your lawn.
Difficult to control due to our ever-changing climate, proper lawn care practices in the spring, summer, and fall will help your lawn to survive. Utilizing an effective lawn care program that includes the right amounts of fertilizer timed during the appropriate times of the year will go a long way in keeping your turf robust and strong.
Protect Your Lawn With Quality Lawn Care Services Offered by Great Lawns Plus
We can’t predict the weather here in Marlborough, but we can take steps to prevent our lawns from winter damage. At Great Lawns Plus, we offer a 5-Step Lawn Care Program created to fertilizer your turf building its strength and increasing its resistance to pests and diseases. Our lawn care program includes the proper amounts of fertilizer applied at the appropriate times of the year to help keep your grass healthy and robust. A strong lawn will better stand up to damage and be better equipped to bounce back.
Learn more about our 5-Step Lawn Care Program and all of our lawn care services, including our grub preventive, nutsedge control, and aeration, by visiting our website now. We also offer a highly effective Mosquito and Tick Control Program and perimeter pest control. Reach out to us online or give us a call at 508-251-2426.