Winter hasn’t really felt like winter in much of 2017 thus far. Much of the country has been experiencing unseasonably warm weather, with temperatures exceeding their all-time highs in parts of the country like Colorado, Missouri, and Texas. While the Spokane weather has been near average for much of the winter, we certainly haven’t experienced the frigid cold and massive snowfalls of years past.
“February will likely feature warmer-than-average temperatures for a large swath of the United States, according to an outlook released in early February by The Weather Company. “Near-average conditions are expected in the East, Great Lakes, Northwest and near the Canadian border, while the rest of the country will enjoy above-average warmth.”
As you might expect, a shorter winter means spring shows up much earlier, and our lawn care company has already started to get calls from home and business owners who are wondering whether Mother Earth is telling them to get started on their lawn care services.
In this blog, we’d like to talk about what unseasonably warm weather means for your plants, trees, and turf, as well as your lawn care maintenance regimen.
What Happens To Your Plants During A Warm Winter?
If you’re not particularly fond of cold weather, wind, and shoveling snow, you might be glad that the weather has been warmer this winter. But how does this unseasonable weather affect your lawn, and how should it change your ongoing lawn maintenance routine? To understand the effects, you have to understand that many plants actually NEED winter, rather than just enduring it like humans.
Many plants require a long period of cold, freezing weather before they will start to grow or bloom. When this freeze never occurs, or only occurs for a short period of time, it can confuse the living elements of your landscaping. Damage can occur because plants think spring has arrived and they begin to develop, even though the growing season hasn’t truly arrived.
“If we experience a winter with a sudden cold snap, followed by a second period of warm weather, expect even more damage. If we get gradual cooling and consistent freeze, we can expect less damage,” explains Frankies Flowers.
So what kinds of damage are we talking about?
Risks Of Warm Winter Weather For Your Lawn
1. Snow Mold
You’re probably familiar with mold as an enemy of your sandwich bread and air ducts, but did you know that mold can add strife to your lawn care regimen as well?
“Snow mold is a fungal disease that appears in early spring as the snow melts. There are two types of snow molds, gray and pink, that become active under the snow cover. Gray snow mold (also called Typhula blight) is caused by Typhula spp., while pink snow mold (also called Fusarium patch) is caused by Microdochium nivalis,” explains the University of Minnesota Extension.
Because snow mold typically forms as snow melts, it can become a mid-season problem in unseasonably warm weather. Growth of snow mold is particularly likely in situations where the snow melts, but the grass beneath remains cool and wet…precisely the weather we’ve been having in the Northwest! You can spot snow mold in your lawn by looking for circular, straw-colored patches of turf that seem to get larger as time goes by. Grass within the patch often has a matted appearance and colored fungal growth, and may occasionally become home to mushrooms.
2. Frozen Grass
Grass generally enjoys a time of dormancy during the winter, but too many “warm up” periods, during which the snow melts into the lawn, can cause it to become stressed. This happens when puddles of water freeze into ice among low lying areas of your lawn. This partial thawing can not only kill the grass roots underneath the ice, but give rise to white grub populations who are usually killed by longstanding snow coverage.
3. New Branch Exposure
Both deciduous and coniferous trees in your lawn can be damaged by this unstable winter level. Warm weather is a tree’s cue to start putting out new branches and buds that will eventually become leaves. However, when this happens prematurely because of unseasonably warm weather, it can create a situation in which baby branches are damaged or even killed by sudden a drop in temperature. We agree with Frankie Flowers who advises homeowners to, “Make sure [trees] are in good soil and mulched well. If they are exposed to high winds or salt spray, consider protecting them with burlap.”
Get A Head Start On Your Lawn Care With Impeccable Landscapes!
Keeping track of lawn care tasks in these times of unseasonable and unpredictable weather can be quite difficult for the average homeowner. That’s why Impeccable Landscapes offers a full menu of lawn care services that allow you to leave the maintenance up to us!
When you sign up for our recurring lawn care service, you’ll never have to worry about trimming to soon, fertilizing too late, forgetting the aeration, or failing to protect your trees from frost, because we’ll take care of all those things for you, exactly on time.
Having a professional lawn care company take care of your seasonal maintenance tasks ensure that our decades of experience with Washington’s changing climate will be used to keep your trees, flowers, and plants healthy all year long.
Find out how you can get FREE lawn aeration or 50% OFF your first lawn application!