Although you may not know it, your lawn is still active during the winter. Above the surface, the cold temperatures and lack of direct sunlight cause it to go dormant, changing its leaves to a brown or golden brown color, but below the surface, the roots are still growing. While the low temperatures and snow normally do not directly damage your lawn, there are a few things to watch out for.
Did your neighbor decide not to rake his leaves last fall, and this Spring, you are finding out that they all blew into your yard? Did you “forget” to rake your leaves? Regardless of who is to blame, it is time to get them cleaned up. Whether you rake them, mow them, or blow them back into the neighbor’s yard, you need to get them off of your grass so it can start to soak up the sun that it so desperately needs. In addition to removing leaves, it is also time to pick up your neighbors’ shopping bags and other refuse that blew out of their recycle bins on that 40mph-wind garbage day back in January. Grass will not do well under a Meijer bag.
Debris in a Plainfield lawn in early spring.
One of the biggest winter problems affecting the edges of your lawn during winter is snow plow damage. If we get a big snow storm and the plows are out in full force trying to get the roads cleared, they sometimes misjudge where the curb is and can scrape up huge chunks of your lawn. Many homeowners have even had the misfortune of losing a mailbox or two each winter. It is important to repair these damaged lawn areas as quickly as possible, as weedy grasses and broadleaf weeds will move in quickly in any exposed soil areas. If you are lucky enough to be left with large pieces of sod, try fitting them back in their original places. If you are left with a muddy mess and no worthy sod, you may have to put some fresh soil and grass seed down when the weather warms up.
Significant plow damage to a yard in Bolingbrook.
A close up view of the plow damage in Bolingbrook.
Large chunks of sod left behind by a plow in Bolingbrook.
In order to have safe sidewalks, driveways, and streets, a lot of salt and ice-melt is applied during winter storms. Unfortunately, too much of this can damage your lawn and even your shrubs and bushes. A good practice to help minimize this damage is to shovel or plow your driveway and walks first, then apply the minimum amount of salt or ice-melt needed to melt any remaining ice or snow. Once applied, try not to shovel it into the yard with any new snows. Always keep in mind that your safety and the safety of others are far more important than preventing damage to your lawn.
If you’ve ever seen little winding trails meandering through your back yard, usually between areas of landscaping, you probably have rodents living in your yard. If we get a good snow that hangs around for a while, the rodents will burrow through the lawn underneath the snow so they can get to other food sources. When the snow melts, their trails are left behind and tend to be lined with dead grass. Most of the time, these trails do not cause permanent damage. To repair them, simply rake up the dead, matted grass at the bottom of the trails. Healthy lawns will fill in the trails very quickly.
Rodent trails in a Naperville lawn.
Closer view of rodent trails in a Naperville lawn.
While it can be nearly impossible to eliminate the rodents from your lawn, especially if you live near an open field or wooded area, the trails can help you identify where they are living. If any of the trails are leading into your home, take advantage of the trails to fill in any gaps in your foundation or other areas where they might be able to enter your home.
The next thing you need to do to your lawn is to get your first fertilizer and crabgrass prevention step applied. We can help with this – we are professionals who know what your lawn needs to thrive. Fill out the form on this page or give us a call to get a free, no-hassle quote for our lawn care programs. We currently serve the communities of Plainfield, Naperville, Bolingbrook & surrounding areas in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, as well as the Crystal Lake and McHenry areas in the northwest suburbs.