Common Lawn Issue Caused by Pittsburgh Winter Weather
Pittsburgh winters can put a lot of stress on your lawn. When the winter weather hits Pittsburgh, your lawn can be damaged by the cold and snow if it is not adequately prepared for the harsher temperatures.
Common lawn issues caused by Pittsburgh winter weather include:
The freezing temperatures of a Pittsburgh winter can make your driveways and sidewalks slippery, so to prevent slips and fall, many people use ice melt or salt on these areas. Although these products make your outdoor surfaces safer in the winter, they can also cause damage to your lawn. When spring thaws out our lawn, you may notice severe damage along your sidewalks and driveway. This occurs because the salt dries out your lawn’s roots, resulting in dead grass.
To help prevent salt damage, cover the edges of your lawn, where salt damage is common, with a material such as landscape fabric to keep the salt from reaching your grass. Also, be sure to limit the amount of salt you use or try alternative likes sand that can provide traction on ice without harming your lawn.
When temperatures begin to freeze and the snowfalls in Pittsburgh, the ice and snow can cause your grass to freeze making it brittle and weak. Foot traffic or vehicle traffic on your lawn can cause major damage to your turf, leaving you with damage to repair come springtime.
Be sure to prevent foot traffic on your lawn by keeping sidewalks and driveways clear of ice and snow. Also, avoid parking vehicles on your lawn during the winter to avoid killing the grass and leaving room for weeds to grow.
This fungal disease grows on your lawn under snow cover and is most common in areas where the snow cover lasts through most of the winter. Gray and pink snow mold commonly occur in Western Pennsylvania.
- Pink Snow Mold. Kills the crowns or roots of your grass and appears in bleached out dead patches that have a pinkish hue.
- Gray Snow Mold. Kills the blades of the grass and is more common when there is snowfall before the ground freezes. This type of snow mold appears with sclerotia, pinhead-sized light to dark brown structures on the leaves and crowns of the grass.
Proper mowing is a great way to help prevent snow mold. For your last cut of the growing season, cut your lawn shorter than you normally would, down to about 1 to 2 inches. This will keep the grass from becoming matted down under the snow. Be sure to avoid removing more than one-third of the grass blade to prevent stunting your lawn’s growth.
Protecting Your Lawn Against the Western PA Weather
In Pennsylvania, late fall or early winter is a great time to fertilize cool season grasses. Many of the lawns in Pittsburgh are made from cool season grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass or Tall Fescue, so it’s safe to say that your lawn is likely made up of a blend of cool-season grasses.
It is important to apply a late fall fertilizer called winterizer to provide your soil with essential nitrogen and other nutrients. Winter feeding will help to promote root growth and development and increase disease resistance against early spring lawn disease. This winterizer will also strengthen the grass to prepare it for the stress of winter while providing it with a food source during its dormancy to help promote a green, lush lawn come springtime.
In November, you don’t have to water your lawn as much as you did in the fall, but it is essential to ensure your lawn is watered adequately before the winter freezes the ground. Moist soil will tend to stay warmer than dry soil once the freezing temperatures hit, which will help to insulate and protect the grass roots from freezing. Be careful not to overwater because the plants will not absorb the water as quickly as they do in the growing season.