So much of our grass and properties are still under snow cover in the northern regions, and while we are all anxious for it to melt, damage from the harsh winter may be revealed. It is important to have your arborist evaluate your property as early in the spring as possible, damage can be assessed and a treatment plan developed and implemented to help your property recover.
Salt damage commonly occurs after a winter with significant snow fall, such as the one we experienced this year. Evidence of salt damage will appear as discolored and stressed turf, these conditions may be most apparent at lawn edges near roads, driveways and walkways. Sodium chloride used to melt ice and treat roads leaches into the soil and prevents water uptake through roots. Additionally, salt which dries on blades of grass will draw water out of the leaf and dehydrate them, resulting in brown patches on the lawn. Salt can also block the absorption of essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. Excessive chloride can impeded the conversion of sunlight into chlorophyll, thus starving grass as well as dehydrating it. Salt damage can be mitigated through soil amendments and gypsum applications implemented with large quantities of water, effectively flushing excess sodium chloride from the soil and grass.
As the snow melts matted, tan-colored turf may become apparent, this is typical of pink or grey snow mold. Cool weather conditions combined with excessive moisture on turf will be favorable for snow mold development. Gentle raking of these areas will allow the sun to penetrate and begin to dry the lawn. However, take care not to be too aggressive with the rake, nor should any mechanical dethatching be performed in these areas as it will pull out healthy roots and further hinder recovery.
Winter kill is another common malady found on lawns following a harsh winter. When snow finally disappears areas of desiccation will be visible and lawn damage will be apparent due to rapid thawing, wind, ice, freezing of soil and extreme, extended cold temperatures. Fertilizations will assist with lawn recovery but reseeding will be needed to ensure full restoration. Wind and ice can kill blades and roots of grass and without reseeding the turf will be more susceptible to weed infestation.