First frosts: How does frost affect your lawn?

There’s something very picturesque about a lawn with lots of little white tips and a rising mist, but it may not be the most welcome sight if you’ve recently sown new seed or have a recently established lawn.

One frosty morning in a week shouldn’t do too much damage to your lawn, but if it becomes a regular occurrence you may need to consider the lasting affect it will have on your grass.

How does frost form?

Frost is essentially water vapour, that freezes when an outside surface cools past ‘the dew point’. The dew point is when the water vapour (gas) turns into a liquid because it is so cold, and therefore forms on the grass and freezes the blades. This happens over night as air temperatures drop, and you will notice that most frost will disappear mid-morning as temperatures become milder and your grass begins to thaw.

What damage can frost do to my lawn?

As frost freezes your grass blades it makes them rigid and therefore brittle. Much of grasses’ ability to ‘bounce back’ from wear and tear is its flexible blades, so when this ability is compromised, it can make it more vulnerable to damage.

How can I stop frost from damaging my lawn?

Pre-frost preventative measures

Apply a fertiliser Just like us, grass has an immune system that needs to be built up over time. By applying an autumn / winter fertiliser that is high in potassium you can help to harden and strengthen your grasses resilience to disease and frost. When a lawn is left unfed, it will not have the nutrients it needs to fight off winter-borne diseases and may succumb to them. If you have a relatively young lawn (sown this summer or this year) then applying a fertiliser this autumn / winter is recommended.

Don’t mow too short When planning your last mow of the season make sure to mow a little higher than your usual setting and ensure that your blades are sharp – cutting on a low setting with a blunt blade can sever the cells within your grass, which stops them from being able to repair and grow again.

Post-frost actions

Don’t walk on the lawn The most obvious way to stop frost damaging your lawn is not to add to the problem, and this means staying off the lawn when there is frost – and this goes for pets too! Grass blades that are walked on when frozen can split and break, and when your lawn wakes up again in spring can appear yellowed / brown or dead.

Repair in early spring If your lawn does emerge damaged in spring, you can of course repair it – but to avoid this happening year on year, using the above advice will help cut out this extra work!

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