Here in Delaware, we’re no strangers to frigid winters. While we may be able to head inside to avoid the winter weather, our lawns are not so lucky. Delaware winters take their toll on our lawns, often resulting in winter kill. Winter kill just means that something has caused your grass health decline and your grass to die. It happens to countless people every year and can even happen to you! Here are 4 of the worst forms of winter kill affecting lawns in Delaware.
First on our list of worst forms of winter kill are pesky voles. These tiny rodents stay active all year long, even in the winter. During the winter, voles seek cover from predators beneath the snow. Here’s where the damage begins. Voles eat grass and roots throughout the winter. They chew away pathways through the grass all winter long, resulting in a crisscrossed pattern of dead grass. The damage doesn’t end at the grass though. Voles are capable of killing trees during the winter. If they find a tree trunk, voles chew away at the bark. After a while, the voles chew a section of bark from the entire circumference of the trunk. This cuts the branches and leaves off from their supply of water in the roots. Eventually, the tree dies of dehydration.
Vole damage to your lawn isn’t noticed until the snow melts. Then, you will see the vole runways throughout your yard. Simply rake these areas to break up the matted and chewed grass. In a short time, the grass will grow back. The best way to prevent vole damage in the winter is with proper lawn maintenance in the fall. Keep mowing your grass until it completely stops growing and make sure to rake and remove all lawn debris and leaves before the first snow. By doing these two things, you eliminate some of the most crucial hiding spots for voles. To protect your trees from vole damage, wrap the trunk. Make sure the wrap goes up above the treeline. It’s also a good idea to avoid piling mulch up against the trunk. Instead, create an indent right at the trunk, forming a small volcano shape. This prevents voles from gaining easy access to your tree.
Next up on our list is the infamous snow mold. This frigid fungus spreads throughout the damp and matted grass under the snow. It’s made worse by snowfall on unfrozen ground and by taking a long time for the snow to melt. The longer the snow sits on your lawn, the more likely it is that snow mold forms. However, snow mold can happen in lawns when there is no snow at all. It just needs cold, wet weather for an extended period of time. Gray snow mold is identified by patches of soaked grass covered by the gray or white web-like fungus. Whereas, pink snow mold is identified by the red, copper-colored, or pink fungus.
if you find snow mold growing in your lawn, then use a rake to break up the fungus and matted grass. Allow the areas to dry out by improving airflow. After awhile the fungus will dry out. Pink snow mold attacks the roots and crown of your grass, killing off large patches. Avoid this by quickly drying the lawn out. However, as with most lawn problems, the best control for snow mold is prevention. In the fall, keep mowing your lawn until it stops growing to reduce the amount of matted grass. Remove leaves and lawn debris as these are common places to find snow mold. The single best thing you can do to prevent snow mold in your Delaware lawn is by aerating your lawn in the fall. This service breaks up thatch and greatly improves drainage.
Another one of the worst forms of winter kill is crown hydration. The crown of your grass is the central part of the plant, crown hydration destroys it and kills the grass. This terrible form of winter lawn damage happens when temperatures fluctuate above and below freezing. When the temperature goes up, the grass wakes up and starts absorbing water again. It stores the water in the crown of the grass. If the temperatures drop quickly to below freezing, then the water in the crown freezes. The freezing water rapidly expands, bursting the cells with the crown and killing off the plant. Crown hydration kills off large swathes of grass every year.
Prevention is essential to avoiding crown hydration. The best way to keep your lawn safe from winter lawn damage is by keeping your lawn healthy all year. Make sure you meet all of your lawn’s needs in the spring, summer, and fall to ensure your grass has everything it needs to be strong. Keep weeds, pests, and other lawn diseases from infesting or infecting your lawn throughout the year. A stress-free lawn is a strong lawn.
Finally, we have winter desiccation. This is one of the worst forms of winter kill in Delaware lawns because, like crown hydration, it depends entirely on the weather. Winter desiccation happens when there is exposed grass during the below-freezing temperatures of winter. With no snow to cover it, the grass is exposed to the beating sun and the harsh, dry wind. The sun causes water to evaporate out of the leaf while the dry wind sucks the rest out. Because the ground is frozen, the roots can’t absorb water to replace what it lost. This results in dehydration and lawn death.
As with crown hydration, winter desiccation requires a year-round prevention approach. Ensure you fertilize the lawn in the spring, summer, and fall to keep the lawn growing and healthy. Control the weeds and lawn-damaging pests to keep your lawn stress-free. By the time fall rolls around, your grass will be ready for whatever is ahead.
Avoid Winter Kill With Lawn Care Services from Quality Cut Lawn Service
Prevention is the key to a strong and healthy lawn. Here at Quality Cut Lawn Service, we know how to take care of Delaware lawns. With our lawn care program, your grass will be well-fed and protected from weeds and pests all year long. Combine our lawn care program with an essential aeration service in the fall to give your lawn the best chance at staying healthy and beautiful.