What Happens to Your Lawn in Winter?

Frequently Asked Questions

In Virginia, grasses go dormant and have a tan appearance in the winter. Shorter days and colder temperatures typically slow down grass growth and turn the lawn a tan/brown color. This will occur with all grass types, including Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass.

Is lawn dormancy normal?

Lawn dormancy is normal, and we should expect our lawns to be off-color in the winter. By properly preparing our lawns now, we can expect outstanding color and growth in the spring.  

What is desiccation?

In cold, windy areas, grass blades can also go dormant from a process call desiccation. The cold winds cause the blades to lose their moisture and the roots to freeze, hence no water can replace the lost moisture, causing the grass to turn brown. This is most noticeable in west-facing areas that have no protection from the wind.

Does my grass die in the winter? 

Though the grass looks dead, it is alive and once the temperatures rise in late March to early April, the turf color will begin change and start growing again. Although your grass doesn’t die in the winter, there are some step to take that will minimize injuries to your lawn during the cold winter months.  

How do I minimize lawn damage during the winter?  

  • Late fall fertilizer. This acts as natural anti-freeze for better cold tolerance, maintains lawn density, and stimulates spring color and growth. 
  • Continue to mow your lawn in the fall until it stops growing. Never reduce mowing to less than 3” 
  • Remove leaves as often as possible, never less than once per week. Leaves smother grass and by eliminating light and oxygen.  New grass growth is especially sensitive, and leaves must be removed more often.  Use a blower instead of a rake 
  • Continue to water until Thanksgiving in our area if it does not rain. 
  • Stay off the lawn if it is frozen. Walking on the grass can kill spots as the crown of the plant is more sensitive to being crushed when frozen. 

For more tips on how to keep your lawn healthy this winter, or have us take care of it for you, contact Virginia Green at 804-285-6200. We also offer comprehensive lawn care services to that keep your lawn looking it’s best all year long.