A bit like the last time you watching The Notebook on a cheap-wine hangover, your lawn can get a little bit sensitive now and then, especially during the winter months. Of course, we’re not telling you this so that you can pop a large box of Kleenex tissues in your shed, we’re telling you this because of a little thing called winterkill (we know, right; it’s a bit of a dramatic title).
What this nasty little thing refers to is pretty much any major damage – or even death – sustained to your lawn during the trés harsh winter months. Now, if you are an avid gardener that has devoted his or her life to the religion of grass, then your turf will probably be strong, tough, hardy and irrepressible – that’s what a sound lawn care program offers. However, it’s worth being brutally honest here because even the most revered lawns can find the colder months too unforgiving to make it through unscathed.
To help you see the signs and understand when winterkill is most likely to plague your lawn, we have highlighted the three main winter weather conditions that may harness this damage-cum-death, before letting you know what can be done to prevent it.
Time To Break The Ice
We all know how ice forms. It’s when water freezes. That means ice cover can occur when a) there is a period of snow, followed by brief spells of sun and then more freezing temperatures, or b) when there is a bunch of rain followed by super-cold weather (which is classic England). Anyway, this thick layer of ice is killer. Yes, there is some good news in the form of our grass being classified as “cool season grass”, meaning it’s pretty good at handling these conditions. But the bad news is, if this blast of ice lasts more than a month then your lawn is going to get seriously damaged. There are no two ways about it.
Snow Your Limits
A little bit of snow cover never harmed any lawn. Quite the contrary, in fact. That’s because snow cover actually insulates the grass and its roots, protecting it from the chilly winter air. So, on the whole, snow cover is actually a plus. However, these insulated conditions can promote a few nuisances, such as snow mould and mice activity, both of which will leave noticeable blemishes all over your garden by the time spring erupts.
All Bare & Dormant
As we mentioned above – and on our blog ‘Keeping Lawn & Order This Winter’ – having a layer of snow in your garden is actually doing you and your lawn a favour. It’s keeping your grass warm and safe from the chilly winter air, which is the real killer here. How is that? It’s because bare grass that’s exposed to the winter winds and fallen temperatures – especially for long stretches – becomes dehydrated and weak. Couple that with people, kids, dogs, dinosaurs and whatever else that may trample over it and this situation becomes way worse than a bit of snow cover. Way worse. Way, way worse (You get the point).
So, What’s The Solution?
The maths is pretty simple really: the more extreme the weather conditions the worse the damage it will inflict. Wind, ice, cold, freezing and thawing – it can all deal a pretty devastating hammer blow to your once perfectly manicured lawn. And if winterkill does happen to creep in as a result, well, the recovery period could be frustratingly long.
The million dollar question? “What can you do to prevent this kind of onslaught?” Well, numero uno on this list is making sure your grass is properly hardened off and properly “put to bed” as they say. The other thing you can do is keep an eye on what the weather is doing, prepare your defences and then deal with the conditions as and when they creep up. Think of it as a game, where you need to defend your castle’s keep from an uprising, or whatever is going to motivate you into braving the weather.
Would we recommend you get out there in the deep dark, depths of January with some sort of ice-breaking mechanism you found on JML Direct to chip-chip-chip away at the thick duvet of ice covering your lawn? Probably not. If you have a perfectly manicured lawn that you a) love entering into competitions or b) chucking onto Instagram at every opportunity then, sure, you could be that person. But, honestly, we wouldn’t bother.
The other thing you could – and should – do is indulge in a top-notch lawn care program. It may not stop winterkill from wreaking havoc, but it will help your lawn recover from almost anything that gets hurled at it, and that’s the kind of security every lawn-lover wants. That or you could just ask us to come perform a miracle or two (read: a spot of lawn renovation). Whatever takes your fancy.