Winter Kill in Indiana: The Cold-Weather Plagues Affecting Your Lawn

Here in Indiana, winter can do a number on our lawns. The infamous term “Winter Kill” refers to the decline and death of grass and plants over the winter from many different causes. Between the cold temperatures, dry wind, snow, and hungry rodents, our lawns are under constant stress during the winter. Here are a few of the most common forms of winter kill in Indiana.

Vole Damage

Voles are some of the most common forms of winter kill in Indiana because of the paths they chew through our grass under the snow cover.
Some of the worst winter lawn damage comes from a tiny, unassuming creature. The vole is a voracious eater and spends its winter doing just that. Voles chew their way through your grass during the winter. These tiny rodents create intricate and sprawling runways as they feast on your grass. If they find their way to a tree, they can chew a strip of bark around the entire circumference of the tree. This is called tree girdling and it kills the tree by preventing it from sending water from the roots to the top of the tree.

Preventing voles from invading your lawn in the winter comes down to proper maintenance. Trim your trees and shrubs so there aren’t many branches near the ground. This eliminates a key hiding place for them. Mow your lawn throughout the fall until the grass stops growing. Voles love long grass because it helps hide them from hungry predators. Rake and clear leaves and lawn debris to eliminate more hiding places.

Crown Hydration

Another devastating form of winter kill is crown hydration. Crown hydration is a form of winter lawn damage caused by the harsh elements. When temperatures climb above freezing for an extended period of time, it reactivates the grass. The plant starts pulling water up through the roots and stores it in the crown. If the temperature plummets below freezing, the water freezes and expands. This causes the water-filled cells to burst, killing the grass.

Crown hydration isn’t something that’s easily prevented because it relies on the weather. The best way to prevent this form of winter kill in Indiana is to properly prepare your lawn for winter. Consistent lawn care and efficient maintenance throughout the year give your lawn everything it needs to take on the winter stress.

Snow Mold

Snow mold is another cause of winter kill in Indiana. This fungus grows under the snow during winter. It makes its home in matted grass and excess thatch. 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 roots and crown of the grass, often resulting in winter kill. Gray snow mold does not.

Prevent snow mold with consistent lawn care throughout the year and by preparing your lawn in the fall with strategic lawn maintenance. Mow your lawn until the grass stops growing to prevent matted grass. Remove all leaves and lawn debris in the fall so the mold has fewer places to form. Aerate your lawn in the fall to help with drainage and reduce excess thatch. Finally, don’t allow snow to pile up in your lawn, especially around the driveway and sidewalks.

Winter Desiccation

Finally, winter desiccation is another common form of winter kill in Indiana. Winter desiccation happens when there is no snow covering the grass but the temperatures remain below freezing. The frozen ground doesn’t allow the grass to pull in moisture from the roots. The dry winds in the winter sap the blades of grass of all their existing moisture. In a short amount of time, the grass dries up and withers away. The grass ultimately dies of dehydration.

Similar to crown hydration, winter desiccation is a difficult form of winter kill to prevent. The best way to prevent desiccation is with a consistent lawn care schedule throughout the year. Make sure you meet all the seasonal needs of your lawn to ensure it’s strong and hardy when winter rolls in. A healthy lawn is better equipped to take on the stresses of winter.

Keep Your Lawn Healthy All Year With Farison Lawn Care

Here at Farison Lawn Care, we understand the specific problems and needs of our Kentucky and Indiana lawns. Our lawn care program is designed to provide these lawns with everything they need to stay healthy, year-round. When combined with services like aeration, your lawn will be set up to take on the stresses of winter.

If you want to know more about how we can help protect your lawn, call us at (502) 245-9422 or get a FREE quote here. Make sure you follow us on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date news and deals. Don’t forget to check out our blog for the best lawn care tips.