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What Happens To Grass In The Winter In Utah

Thursday, January 24, 2019 | by Scott Bennett

It’s January and winter here in Salt Lake City, Utah, is in full force. The entire Salt Lake Valley got 6-8 inches of snow over the last 24 hours. My back is sore from shoveling my driveway, but today the air is clean, the sky is blue, and the trees, weighed down with snow, are breathtaking. Even though you probably can’t even see your grass right now, you may be wondering what happens to your grass in the winter. Does it completely die off? Or go dormant? Is the winter weather bad for grass?

Some types of grass like crab grass are annuals and do die when winter comes and then reseed themselves the next spring. Most lawn varieties that we have in Utah just go dormant. Going dormant means to go to sleep. Even if your grass turns a little bit brown in the winter months, know that it is still alive. Sometimes dormant winter grass turns brown to protect itself. It conserves water and nutrients to help it survive the winter. Grass survives because of its roots. When grass roots have moisture all winter long they will awake from dormancy and grow just fine in the spring.

Is snow bad for grass?

The truth is actually the opposite. Snow is great for grass because it insulates the grass from extreme cold and drying winds. When the snow melts, it waters the grass. Snow covering the grass is good for it.

Winter weather is unpredictable and grass can get damaged in the winter months. You can’t do a lot to help or even assess damage to your grass until spring. Below are a few conditions that can harm grass during the winter months:
Winter kill.

If you don’t have any snow and you have a hard frost, your grass may struggle to maintain moisture. Without snow, it could face more exposure to cold winds that can be dehydrating. Without enough moisture, the grass will die.

Snow mold.

If your ground has been warmed by rising temperatures but then is covered with snow suddenly, you may have the perfect conditions for fungi growth under the snow. Again, there may not be much you can do to prevent it. When your snow melts, if you see pink or grey crusty patches on the grass, you may have some fungi breeding in your grass and potentially damaging it.

Crown freezes.

When temperatures rise and rains come or snow melts, your grass may be wet. Each blade of grass or crown may be trying to absorb as much moisture as it can. Then, if you have a sudden freeze, the water inside these blades freezes and then expands, killing the grass.

In the spring, if you have dead spots in your lawn caused by any of these conditions, make sure your grass has water, and then give it some time. If you lawn isn’t reviving in these spots, then you will need to resod or reseed, depending on how big the damaged area is. As for now though, enjoy the snow in Utah! We all hate seeing six inches of snow on our drive way early in the morning, and we would love to call a professional snow remover to get it taken care of, but try to enjoy it because in 6 months it will be 100 degrees and sunny.

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