Dead Grass After Winter – 4 Common Causes

When the snow melts in the spring, you’re looking forward to seeing green grass. But sadly, sometimes you are going to see patches of dead grass. Below are four common reasons your grass may have died and what you can do about it.

Dead Grass Causes 1 – Cold Desiccation

The majority of grasses are able to survive almost any range of temperature when there’s snow on the ground because it will help with insulating. But, if the grass is uncovered and the weather is very cold, the grass will lose oxygen and moisture long after the ground’s frozen. Roots that are frozen won’t be able to replace the moisture that’s been lost by dry, cold winds and the grass might be suffering from cell death and even crown death.


Patiently wait and see if the grass bounces back. If it’s minor damage, it’s possible that the grass might recover. It’s also possible that the grasses around them might fill in. if the damage is widespread, chances are that you will need to resod or reseed those dead areas.

Dead Grass Causes 2 – Snow Mold

This is something that happens sometimes with heavy snowfall. When there’s a lot of snow that falls on the ground that’s still warm, these moist conditions could cause a lot of different fungal diseases that are called snow mold collectively. Once the snow has melted and the weather gets warmer, you may be noticing crusty or fuzzy patches that are grey or pink in color that blanket parts of the yard. It usually will die out as breezes and sun help dry out your lawn. However, if the infection’s been there for a while, your grass might dry. However, the grass will usually recover gradually on its own.


If the lawn still has some debris on it from last year, it’s a good idea to rake it up. It will improve your grass’s air circulation. To help with preventing snow mold, you should aerate or dethatch your lawn regularly. This will ventilate your grass and let it dry. Some experts say it’s not a good idea to fertilize your lawn late in the season because when the nutrients aren’t absorbed, it might foster mold growth when there’s a snowfall.

Dead Grass Causes 3 – Crown Freeze

Grass crowns can sometimes be killed when the ground suddenly freezes after there was moist, warm weather. One of the most common reasons that some of your grass looks like it’s dead following winter, and it occurs often during early spring or when the cold season ends. This is especially true when there’s a sudden frost occurring in a warm climate that’s planted with grasses specifically for warm seasons. There’s water absorbed by the grass crowns. When there’s a sudden freeze, the quick expansion will kill them.


When there’s widespread damage, it requires resodding or reseeding. There aren’t a lot of ways that you can prevent this. If you’re in a climate zone that is borderline and you have had this problem, think about reseeding your lawn using a turfgrass blend that is cool-season.

Dead Grass Causes 4 – Voles

Damage from voles is easy to identify. These are small rodents and the way that you can tell that you have this problem is that you see meandering, narrow dead grass bands on your lawn. These trails show where voles completely ate the grassroots away.


These trails usually will fill in once again as the grasses around them send new shoots and roots out. If the damage is widespread, it’s possible you’ll have to reseed. You can prevent voles by removing fallen leaves and dead grass during the fall. The reason this helps is that the material will offer them shelter during the winter. You can also bait and trap them the way that you bait and trap mice, although it’s harder to do when snow is on the ground.

How You Can Prevent Grass from Dying

When you want to have a green, fresh lawn in the spring, an important factor is keeping the lawn healthy prior to winter starting. Fertilize your yard in the early part of the spring, which is when it starts actively growing. You also can do it following the final frost based on your region. You also can fertilize in autumn. However, you want to be careful, since fertilizing your lawn too late often causes snow mold for those who live in areas with heavy snow in early winter. If winter kill is something that you often have trouble with, you also can aerate it in its growing season. This is going to help prevent compaction prior to the cold weather setting in.

These are 4 common reasons why your grass may have died during the winter and the things you can do about it. If you are interested in learning more about our lawn care services, contact us.

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