When your lawn has greened up for the season, you will be able to see any damage that it suffered over the winter. That’s the time to determine the cause and make any repairs. All lawn damage is mechanical, chemical or disease damage.
Mechanical damage is usually confined to the edge of your driveway or the road, and it’s usually caused by a snow plow. When the grass is firm enough to support you without leaving footprints, you can replace divots just as you would lay a new sod lawn. It’s done by roughing up the bare soil with a rake, cutting the divots so they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, placing them on the bare spots, walking on them to make contact with the soil and, finally, watering them in.
If the divots are damaged and unusable or you can’t find them, seeding is the most economical alternative. Begin by roughing up the soil. Then, spread compost or fertilizer, followed by seed. I suggest taking a small sample of your sod to the garden center so you can match up the seed composition with the rest of the lawn. After you’ve seeded, rake in the seed, and water your new planting. Keep watering until the new grass has become established.
Most chemical damage is caused by road salt. Sodium chloride melts snow and ice and mixes with the resulting water. This is very toxic to plants. Passing vehicles then splash it on to your lawn. Chemical damage is usually confined to the grass in your tree lawn (the area between the curb and sidewalk), although splash can cause damage further into your front yard. This repair is made the same way as the seeding repair from mechanical damage. I recommend a hardy seed mixture that can withstand salt water for your tree lawn. It would be a good idea to overseed the whole tree lawn with the hardy mix as a preventive measure.
Several fungal diseases attack lawns in winter, leaving patches of dead grass. Some have interesting shapes and colors. The thing they all have in common, though, is that they kill patches of grass. The most common reaction is to apply a fungicide. Resist the temptation. Fungicides won’t help. Instead, rake the dead grass out and throw it away. If the dead area is small, the healthy grass will fill in the area. If it’s larger, you’ll have to reseed, using the same method as you would for chemical damage. If mushrooms are present, manually remove them, especially if you have pets or small children, since these fungi may be poisonous. When reseeding, use a fungus-resistant seed variety. Overseeding the whole lawn with fungus resistant seed will help keep your whole lawn fungus-free next winter..
If you need help nursing your lawn back to health, talk to of our lawn care professionals.