While it is known for hurting evergreens, it can also do extensive damage to your lawn during very cold weather. Without swift help, winterburn can lead to irreversible lawn damage, costly repairs and poor aesthetics in your yard. Understanding the basics of this common problem can help you avoid it in the future or learn how to treat it if it has happened to you this spring.
What Is Winterburn?
Winterburn is a blemish on your grass that occurs when your lawn is stressed during the winter months and cannot return to its previous level of health in the spring. Typically, you will see brown, dead patches of grass in your lawn. In very significant cases of winterburn, your entire lawn could be destroyed.
What Causes Winterburn?
Winterburn mainly occurs in areas that see very cold winter conditions. In most of these climates, grass is covered most of the winter by snow, which keeps in moisture and helps keep a lawn healthy and vibrant. However, when grass has to go through severe winter weather without this protective coating of snow, it can become brown in patches and may not green up once it is spring. Another common cause of winterburn is frequent freezes and thaws. When the weather gets warmer, healthy grass begins to pick up extra moisture inside each blade. However if temperatures return to freezing, this extra moisture can freeze and significantly damage the grass.
Two other causes of winterburn are less common but no less destructive. Snow mold can infect and kill grass. In addition, voles, which are tiny rodents, can create tunnels immediately beneath the grass, eating grass roots and killing the lawn in these areas.
How Can You Prevent Winterburn?
Winterburn is best prevented by keeping the lawn healthy throughout the year. Four applications of fertilizer from spring through fall can help significantly. You may also want to consider using grass that can withstand frequent freezes and thaws. Finally, de-thatching and aerating your lawn can help moisture, sunlight and fertilizer reach the important parts of the grass.
How Can Winterburn Be Treated?
Treatment for winterburn will depend on the extent of the damage as well as on the culprit. For small brown patches that do not return to optimal health, you may be able to reseed your grass. However, for widespread damage, you will want to consider professional re-sodding.
You certainly do not have to live with winterburn if it has touched your lawn. Instead, with a little personal care and some professional help for re-sodding, replanting or fertilizing, your lawn can be back to tip-top shape by the time of your summer lawn activities and outdoor parties. Plus, by keeping your lawn healthy all year long, it will be best able to withstand the cold temperatures of next winter.