Limbwalkers – Preventing Winter Lawn Damage

Preventing Winter Lawn Damage

By Royce Hall

Frost on Grass (by PublicDomainPictures)

You may notice that your lawn is not growing as fast as it was a few short months ago. This is because it is going dormant for the winter months. The good news is that your grass is easier to maintain right now, as it does not need to be mowed weekly, and most of your leaves have already been mulched or removed. However, as your lawn is no longer vigorously growing its shoots, it is also not repairing itself as actively. So, during the winter months you should be thinking about how to protect your lawn so that it looks good in the spring. Here are three good rules of thumb to protect your lawn during the winter.

  • Minimize foot traffic. Do not walk on your lawn when frost is present, and minimize your traffic until spring. Repetitive foot traffic can increase the compaction in your lawn, and increase the wear on your grass. Depending on the extent of the damage, it may take your lawn a few weeks to repair itself in the spring, or may require core aeration and reseeding. It is especially important to stay off your lawn when the grass is frozen because foot traffic at this time can significantly damage the grass blade and even kill the plant altogether. In severe cases footprints may linger in the grass and even turn brown.

  • Keep salt off of your lawn. Use ice melt products containing calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) instead of salt or fertilizer. These products are much safer for your lawn and our environment. Road salt and ice melt can adjust the pH of your soil and result in damaged or dead turf. Fertilizer should be avoided because the dormant turf will not absorb the fertilizer. The fertilizer will run-off leading to groundwater pollution. If you do use salt, thoroughly water the damaged areas two to three times in the spring to move the salt out of the soil.

    Snow on House (by Anonymous)

  • Mark your driveway and sidewalks for plowing. Mark the boundaries of your sidewalk and driveway with stakes if they are to be plowed. This will lessen the likelihood of accidentally plowing your lawn and landscaping. You can use small boundary and irrigation marking flags, or wooden stakes, as long as they will still be visible after the snow falls. These supplies are available from most hardware and home improvement stores. If you have sensitive plants near your driveway, you may want to place a barrier between them and the driveway to physically keep the salt from getting on the plants.

If you need any additional information about preventing winter lawn damage, or are interested in Limbwalker’s lawn program, please call our office at (502) 634-0400, or contact Royce Hall at


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