Thursday, 10 January 2019 20:07:32 Europe/London

Common winter lawn problems and how to deal with them

Like any living thing, your lawn is prone to more ailments in winter time. In this blog, we’re looking at some common winter lawn problems and how to cope with them.

Frosty footprints

Probaby one of the most avoidable lawn problems shows itself in early spring but the damage is done in frosty weather.  Footprints.

lawn turf with a dusting of snow

When you walk across a frozen lawn you do irreparable damage to the grass leaves. When the lawn thaws, you’ll see brown or black footprints where the leaves have perished. It looks awful, but don’t panic – all is not lost.

Every blade of grass is made from millions of tiny cells. Each cell is filled with fluid. On warmer days, the fluid is liquid and when you walk on it, most of the cells are like squishy water balloons. Some may burst, but most of them will flex to absorb the impact. Very little damage is done and anyway, the plant is growing so fast that it quickly repairs itself. 

When that fluid is frozen solid though, it cannot absorb impact. It simply shatters, killing the cell. If most of the cells in leaf are damaged like that, the leaf dies, turns brown and looks dreadful.

If you really can’t avoid walking across your frozen lawn, at least try to use some old turf laying boards (or something similar) to spread your weight and protect the grass.

When you see brown footprints appearing in your newly thawed lawn, it’s unlikely that the plant roots have been killed. Just the leaves. And so, as the soil warms up and leaves start to grow again, the marks will disappear. 

An application of autumn/winter lawn feed will speed up the recovery process and help the plants recover their strength. Follow it up in March with some spring/summer lawn feed.

Fusarium Patch Disease

Often called snow mould, fusarium patch disease tends to appear in mild, wet conditions. Exactly the conditions you find underneath a covering of snow.

fusarium patch disease

Fusarium Patch Disease has a very distinctive appearance. It looks like tiny cotton wool balls sitting on the surface of your lawn. Each area of Fusarium will be roughly circular and the grass within it will be a straw-like colour. Sometimes one or more patches will join up and create some very odd shapes indeed.

Provided that your lawn is not frozen, you should apply Bayer Lawn Disease Control as soon as you spot the first signs of Fusarium Patch Disease.

It’s worth noting that Fusarium tends to do most damage where lawns are stressed or where the soil beneath them is in poor condition. (Just like us, colds and flu are so much worse for people who are frail).

To help shrug off an attack of Fusarium patch next winter, try to implement a regular feeding regime during spring, summer and autumn. Consider aeration and scarification too.

Redthread Disease

Redthread is another common lawn disease. Just like Fusarium Patch Disease, it’s caused by minute fungi which feed on weaker lawn grasses.

redthread disease on lawn

If your lawn is affected by Redthread disease you’ll notice pinky-brown irregular shaped patches on the lawn. When you look closely you’ll see that the pink tinge comes from tiny wee thread-like structures attached to the grass. It’s quite beautiful but not something you want to see in your own garden.

Again, Bayer Lawn Disease Control will help to clear the fungus but you must feed your lawn to strengthen the grass plants.

Stewarts Turf recommend applying this autumn/winter feed as soon as possible. And then mark your calendar to remind you to start applying Spring/Summer feed when the soil starts warming up. Normally mid-march to early April.

Worm casts

The earthworm is every gardener’s friend. Until, that is, the soil gets waterlogged and they come to the surface to breathe. It’s not something you see in every lawn, but sometimes, the worms will push up little mounds of earth. The mounds are fine unless they are squished. That’s when they make a sticky mess that’s perfect for weeds to germinate in.

The simple answer is to 1) be thankful that you have lots of worms under your lawn. They’re doing a great job of recycling dead grass leaves and aerating the soil. 2) wait for the worm casts to dry and then break them up with a stiff broom. You’ll look a bit daft “sweeping” the lawn but it will save you applying weedkillers later in the year.

Worn patches

I quite like to see worn patches in a lawn. They are usually proof that the lawn has been enjoyed. Try to avoid walking over them and making the problem worse. Then as the soil warms up, you can overseed with some good quality grass seed.

If the bare patches are appearing near shrubs, trees or in the shade of a building, then use a shade tolerant grass seed for your overseeding. You can buy shade tolerant grass seed online here.

Related Articles

Dealing with Redthread disease. What causes this common lawn problem?

How to repair a lawn with grass seed

Posted in Lawn care
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