It’s a question we’re accustomed to hearing, particularly during harsh winters with a lot of sub-zero temps and persistent snow. The question: “Is snow and cold weather a good thing – or a bad thing – for my lawn?”
Well, in the absence of snow cover long-term sub-freezing temperatures can be hard on your lawn. Like freezer burn with meat, too much exposure to cold air can create a deep frost line beneath the ground surface and literally freeze the life out of young, unestablished fall plantings.
But, an adequate snow cover of four inches or more during harsh freezes acts as an insulating blanket, protecting plants and roots from the air and drying freeze conditions. So yes, snow is a good thing for your lawn during the dormant winter months.
It’s also good for the sake of the ground water supply. Snow eventually melts, of course, and that water is absorbed into the water table beneath ground level and acts as a moisture reserve during the hot dry months of summer.
Finally, some ask about bird feeders during the winter…those who enjoy feeding black sunflower seeds but don’t enjoy the ones that don’t get eaten and eventually germinate and grow during the warm days of spring. Well, they are unsightly, but they’re not a long-term problem.
If you do have volunteer plants come up in your lawn one or two mowings will usually kill them effectively without the use of herbicides. And from experience, if mowing doesn’t do the job on sunflowers, a quick shot of any off-the-shelf 2-4-D product will do the trick.
Bottom line, enjoy feeding the birds and rest assured that even during the coldest nights that snow blanket on your lawn is paying you multiple dividends. The longer it’s there the greener you lawn will be come spring. Snow IS a good thing for your lawn!