Everything you need to know about defending your lawn from frost…
Okay, so it’s not quite ‘two pairs of socks and some Long Johns’ weather, but the moment the clocks went back it felt like the northern hemisphere just got chilly. The sort of chilly that means two things are about to happen:
- Dads are about to refuse to turn the heating on because, well, “you should be wearing 14 jumpers if you’re really that cold!”
- Your lawn is set to be covered in a harsh morning frost.
Yup. Autumn is back and, if this year is anything to go by, who knows how wild, weird or harsh it could be. We probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid if it suddenly dumped a load of snow next week. But whether it’s snow or frost you’re having to deal with, you don’t need to panic because there are a few basic things you can do to help your lawn stay healthy in a big freeze and make it through this cold snap with no long-term damage.
And in that spirit, here’s everything you need to know about protecting your grass during a frost:
How Frost Can Hurt Your Lawn
If you’re not sure how frost happens, it takes place on cold and clear nights when atmospheric conditions cause things to become colder than the air surrounding it, such as your grass blades. Of course, the degrees of frost can vary from light and scattered to heavyweight champion of the world with enough freeze to make your lawn seriously dormant or even kill it this winter. It all depends on the conditions.
This is because your grass blades work to move water through them for nourishment. But frost makes this moisture freeze inside your grass plants, expanding so much that the plant cells can rupture, seriously damaging your lawn. Thankfully, this doesn’t tend to happen during a light frost because your soil doesn’t freeze, so your grass roots don’t freeze, meaning they’re able to heal. So even though your grass blades look like they’re suffering, your roots are working hard to heal them. And even if you need to help your damaged grass come the spring by reseeding certain areas, your dead grass blades will turn into a layer of thatch that’s able to nourish your soil and help your news seeds a) germinate and b) grow up to be strapping young chaps.
Protecting Your Lawn From Frost
Never Walk On Frozen Grass: Unless you need to save a puppy from a burning building or you’re celebrating the Strictly Come Dancing result, never walk on a frozen lawn. Why? Because when a lawn has been frosted, the grass blades are literally frozen and incredibly brittle, so any activity you do on it will snap the grass blades and damage your lawn. Big time damage it. The sort of damage that will invite in diseases and pests and cause unnecessary long-term harm. Of course, grass being grass, it will recover eventually, but it probably won’t return to its former glory until late-spring. And if you absolutely have to cross your lawn, try and wait until at least midday so that your grass has had time to defrost.
The Less Shady Patches The Better: You know how hot air rises, well cold air sinks, which means this cold air can get stuck in those shady areas and dips in your lawn, unable to escape, meaning a one day frost can last for a lot longer in these frost pockets. Now, most of the time, that’s okay, but a lot of the time, this kind of cling frost can start to wear your grass down and cause a lot of harm. If this is something you notice happening (or something you want to avoid happening), the best thing you can do is start removing anything that might cause a shady frost pocket. Bushes, tree branches, big plant pots, garden furniture, dips in your lawn, anything that will stop the sun burning a frost off. You can put everything back as it was in the New Year, but for now it could be worth protecting your lawn with a quick garden reshuffle.
Create Shelter From Nippy Winds: If there’s one thing your lawn loves more than anything, it’s a nice dollop of air circulation. That said, a strong wind blowing across a frozen lawn can inflict a whole lot of heavy damage. That’s because high winds are able to strip your grass blades from that vital moisture and, if the soil is frozen too, your grass roots won’t be able to replace this moisture, causing some serious harm and damage to your lawn. To prevent this from happening, learn the wind patterns in your garden and then defend your lawn by building a little windbreaker to take the sting and speed out of any nippy winds before they reach your grass. It could be a hedge or a low wall or a fence or, better yet, self-sufficient vegetable planters (yummy!). Not only will you be able to tell all your mates that you grew those slightly green tomatoes and wonky green beans, but the bulky ground-level veggie planters will act as a windbreak. Cor.
Don’t Fight The Weather, Work With It: From late-autumn through to later-winter, your grass is at its weakest, most vulnerable stage in the growth cycle, so you’re probably not going to gasp in surprise when we tell you that weeds and moss can become a real problem come January. Now you’re probably thinking, “that’s okay, I’ll act fast this time and make sure I remedy the situation right away with a bit of lawn care treatment.” And we love you for that kind of proactiveness. The problem is,if it’s an especially cold winter, a poorly-timed bit of lawn care can actually do more harm than it does good. The trick is to actually work with the weather and the seasons to make sure you’re performing the right treatments at the right time. That’s where we come in. We perform a thorough lawn analysis so that we can get your lawn singing in the New Year, whether that’s though a bit of moss control, an aeration job or something else entirely. Now this may go against your initial thoughts, and it could require some patience, but working with the weather instead of against it is a sure-fire way to grow a long-lasting lawn that looks even healthier than Keen Kevin’s next door.