Nick Shaw, owner of Lawn Doctor, has heard from many of his customers this winter who are concerned about weather damage. After an especially brutal winter with lots of snow and cold temperatures, there are some things that homeowners can do to help mitigate the effects of below-zero temperatures and excessive moisture.
“In general, our lawns are used to the extreme weather conditions and for the most part will be completely fine,” he explains. “However, there are some things that we want you to be aware of and reach out to your lawn care provider if you have concerns. Typically homeowners worry about areas where there has been plowing. Chances are that at least part of your yard has a huge pile of snow on it from the plows that have been busy keeping us all safe on the roads. These piles are a mixture of snow, ice, salt, and probably some rocks from the road asphalt.”
Shaw advises that you wait to rake the rocks out of the lawn. “After the first thaw, your grass will still be very weak and raking and removing rocks could do more damage at this point,” he says that it would be much better to wait until the grass is “fully greened up” and recovered from the winter before you begin cleaning the lawn up.
The other issue to keep top of mind, Shaw says, is salt. “Excessive salt can cause damage to lawns along parkways and right by the street,” he says. “Evaluate this in the spring and perform a soil test if you feel it necessary. For your own sidewalks and driveway try using a salt alternative like calcium chloride or potassium chloride. These products are less harmful for your lawn and landscape plantings.”
Shaw also recommends that you watch out where vehicles and other heavy equipment are left for long periods of time.” Do not park cars or other heavy things in the lawn on top of the snow, even a small vehicle like a lawn mower can cause damage,” he explains. “As we start the freeze - thaw cycle, any heavy items and all that snow on top of the lawn will compact the soil, putting more unnecessary stress on the grass. This compaction may be remediated with a spring core aeration, but it is possible for some areas of turf to die from the compaction stress.”
Spring brings out the critters as the snow and ice recede, Shaw reminds his customers. “Deer, rabbits, squirrels, voles and moles can really make a mess of our lawns and landscaping,” hesays. “The deer near our home, hungry from the long winter, have been looking at the tasty shrubbery in the neighborhood. Snow on top of the lawns has covered over moles’ feeding trails through the thatched layers of lawns. Moles, always protected by the dirt above them, have had little concern about predators with the extra thick snow cover and the squirrels just never seem to stop digging around looking for buried nuts. The larger pests may require professional involvement and you should not hesitate to call pest control or landscape management as soon as you become aware of a problem.”
Shaw’s final words of wisdom for Spring: “Our lawns and landscape plantings are stronger than we usually give them credit for so with a little luck, warm spring weather, and some preparation we should soon be back out enjoying our lawns and smelling the flowers."