Yup. It’s that time of the year again; the air is crisp, the frost is out and your lawn’s in trouble…
Ah, frost: It looks pretty, but it’s kind of a pain to deal with — especially if you’re the proud owner of a healthy looking lawn. But sticking to the positives, a frosty lawn really does look pretty, glistening in the morning sunlight as you pull back the curtains — and so the temptation to take your first cup of coffee outside and enjoy the crisp, crunching sound as you walk across your grass can sometimes be too much to resist. But that’s exactly what you should do because walking on your frost-covered lawn can cause serious, long-term damage to your lawn.
And to help you understand exactly how, we’ve pulled together a quick guide on the ways frost affects grass and some ways you can minimize the problems:
What Frost Does To Your Lawn
Frost needs one thing in order to do its thing, and that’s a cold and clear night. When that happens, the conditions in the atmosphere make certain things colder than the air around them, which is what happens to your grass. Now more often than not, frost is light and pretty and scattered about sparingly. But the deeper we get into winter, the heavier the frost can get and that heavyweight frost can punch so hard it can kill plants and put your grass into a very deep sleep.
The reason for this is all to do with the moisture inside your grass blades. When that moisture freezes, the water molecules expand until they rupture through the cell walls and cause serious damage to your grass plants. Luckily, this doesn’t tend to happen with a light frost because, typically speaking, a light frost isn’t enough to make the ground freeze, so your grass roots don’t freeze either. Sure, some of your grass blades may suffer a little damage, but nothing your roots can’t heal with time and growth.
The problem begins when there’s either a heavy frost or the light frosting lasts more than three nights, putting stress on your lawn for a sustained period of time. If this happens though, and you start seeing some visible patches of damages, don’t panic because your grass is more hardcore than a cockroach on steroids. Instead, make yourself another Baileys and put a reminder in your phone to reseed next spring. After all, any dead grass that occurs now will simply turn into thatch, protect your lawn from the cold temperatures and nourish the soil beneath your lawn. Cor. Nature.
Never Walk on Frozen Grass
A frosty lawn may look prettier than your High School crush on prom night, but what it actually means is your grass blades are frozen… literally. Translation: they’re incredibly brittle and so even walking across your lawn will snap or break your poor old grass blades. And not just walking. Your dog rolling about to get that itch on their back, the football your next door neighbour’s kid kicked over the wall, your postman stepping off the path — whenever a heavy object lands on your frozen lawn, the blades break instead of bending and the expanded water molecules burst through the cell walls, causing a crazy amount of damage.
Of course, grass being grass, you can guarantee it will bounce back eventually, which is cool, but it might not fully recover by the following spring, which is not cool.
Reducing The Risk Of Frost Damage
One of the most effective (and easiest) things you can do to protect your patch of zen from an incoming frost is head outside in the evening and water your lawn. Why? Because a nice deep watering will evaporate steadily overnight, creating a slow friction that will keep your grass blades warm enough to not freeze. So when the air temperature plummets, your grass will be able to fight off the big freeze and no water molecules will burst.
If, however, there’s a big freeze and you wake up to a white wonderland that you absolutely need to walk across or mow, we’d recommend putting on the kettle and waiting until the mid-morning sun has melted the frost and warmed up your grass. And if you absolutely cannot wait until mid-morning, turn on your sprinkler and melt away the frost with some warm water. Trust us: it’s what the grounds workers at your favourite golf course would do.