Winter Kill is a recurring problem during or after each winter season turns into spring. All cool season grasses are susceptible to winter damage. Shallow rooting grasses like Kentucky blue, Texas hybrid blue and other bluegrass blends as well as ryegrasses are easily damaged when steps are not taken to properly care for these types of lawns during harsh, dry winter months.
Winterkill, Grey and Pink snow molds are the most common winter issues in our region. We will cover Snow mold in the next Blog.
The effects of winter weather on turf loss in winter is due to many factors such as dry air, wind and low amounts of precipitation and soil moisture. Drying out may be a problem on lawns with slope and southern or western exposure. Poor drainage can cause *crown re-hydration and crown freezing due to the formation of ice sheets. Ice cover can also reduce or eliminate oxygen needed for plant life.
To help deflect the effects of winterkill make sure to water on warmer days and chip off any ice that may be forming on areas of the lawn.
A proactive approach in applying fertilizer prior to winter dormancy is helpful for the food storage of new and existing grass plants.
*Crown. The part of the plant near the surface of the soil. The crown is the meeting point for roots from below and leaves from above. The crown can produce new plants.