The Ultimate Athletic Field and Lawn Destroyer: Winter Kill

Winter in both Indiana and Michigan can be downright cold and bitter. While there is much to do in the winter, including skiing, tubing, snowboarding, and ice skating, the dry air and abundance of snowfall can spell disaster for our lawns and athletic fields. Winter kill is the infamous term referring to the decline and death of grass and plants over the winter from weather-related causes. Between the cold temperatures, dry wind, and snow, our mid-west lawns are under constant stress during the winter. Let’s talk about a few of the most common forms of winter kill here in the great lakes area.

Snow Moldsnow mold

This fungal disease grows under the snow, making its home in matted grass and thatch. When spring arrives and the snow begins to melt, it reveals itself. There are two different types of snow mold: gray snow mold and pink snow mold. Gray snow mold presents itself as white or gray fuzzy mold growing in patches of saturated, matted grass. Pink snow mold is pink, red, or copper-colored and looks a lot like gray snow mold. The difference is that pink snow mold attacks the grass’s roots and crown, often resulting in winter kill. Gray snow mold does not.

You can help prevent snow mold with a consistent lawn care program and by preparing your lawn in the fall. Mow your turf until the grass stops growing to prevent matted grass. Remove all leaves and lawn debris in the fall so that the snow mold has fewer places to form. Have your lawn aerated by one of our professionals in the fall to help with drainage and to reduce excess thatch!

And finally, the best way to prevent snow mold is to have your turf professionally treated with a fungicide preventive. This is ideally done in the late fall, before the first snow of the year. This should protect your lawn throughout the winter and into the spring. RZ Sports Turf offers a lawn fertilization program, aeration, and fungicide treatments to protect your lawn or athletic field from winter disease and fungi.

Crown Hydration

Another devastating form of winter kill is crown hydration. I think we can all agree that our weather patterns over the last few years have been crazy. Up and down and overly extreme. These extravagant weather patterns wreak havoc on everything from our roads to even our lawns causing problems such as crown hydration. This unsightly looking lawn problem usually appears in late winter to early spring. This is because it is prime time for extreme temperature fluctuations to occur. When temperatures climb above freezing for an extended period of time, it reactivates the grass. Grass then starts absorbing water like its spring. When the temperatures drop again below freezing, the water freezes and expands. This causes the cells inside to burst, killing the grass.

There is no easy way to prevent an athletic field or residential lawn from falling prone to crown hydration. The best way to prevent it from occurring is through a properly maintained turf. Utilizing a professional lawn care service such as RZ Sports Turf and our complete fertilization program will give your lawn or field the proper amount of nutrients needed to stay healthy and strong. Healthy turf is not only better equipped to fight off lawn diseases but is better able to bounce back in the spring once the warm weather returns. Our irrigation and drainage systems will also help provide your grass with the desired amount of water it needs for maximum sustainability.

Winter Desiccation

Finally, winter desiccation is another common form of winter kill in Indiana and Michigan. Winter desiccation happens when there is no snow covering the grass, but the temperatures remain below freezing. When this occurs, the frozen ground does not allow the grass to pull in moisture from the roots. The dry air and wind tend to drain the blades of all existing moisture. In a short amount of time, the grass dries up and withers away. The grass ultimately dies of dehydration.

Winter desiccation can destroy a perfectly healthy lawn or athletic field. Once it occurs, there is no going back. But you can help to prevent it by putting your grass on a watering schedule. The key to maintaining a healthy turf is to control the water moving in and out. A good amount of moisture for grass is between 25% to 75%. Anything less than 25% will put your grass in a drought stress situation. While it may not seem important, maintaining a consistent watering schedule in the winter months is just as important. RZ Sports Turf’s Built-Up Sand Capped Athletic Field Drainage System, sub-surface drainage systems, and irrigation systems can provide the ultimate solution in preventing winter desiccation from destroying your home’s turf or playing field.

Protect Your Residential Lawn or Athletic Playing Field With RZ Sports Turf

At RZ Sports Turf, our primary focus is providing safe, natural turf for athletic fields. We also provide services for residential customers including aeration, irrigation installation, and fungicide treatments, all of which can help your grass survive the brutal winter and prevent it from experiencing winter kill. Call 574-404-8873 or contact us now and learn how we can help you.

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