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Repair Winter Damage to Spring Grass

by Marcia Passos Duffy, All About Lawns Columnist

As the snow melts and reveals tender new shoots of spring grass in your landscape, you may be tempted to do everything you can to nurture it along.

Before you grab your rake, fertilizer, and grass seed, consider these tips on caring for early spring grass in cold climates.

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Resist Raking Too Early

Don't rake if the soil is cold and muddy--you'll do more harm than good. Raking in these early spring conditions uproots the tender shoots of grass and compacts the soil. Wait until the soil dries out. If you don't sink down into the mud when you walk on the grass then it's ready for raking--but rake gently. If there are still snow piles in colder parts of the yard, take a snow shovel and spread out the snow to hasten melting.

Identify Snow Mold

As you rake, inspect your lawn for snow mold--light tan patches of what looks like dead grass. It is caused by a fungus that thrives in cold, wet conditions. Light raking helps the grass recover naturally and grow. Avoid using fungicides.

Repair Meadow Vole Damage

Look for narrow, twisting trenches in your lawn. These may be the winter work of the meadow vole, a small mouse-like animal. To repair the injury to your spring grass, rake off the loose grass and clumps of uprooted lawn. Level the areas by adding topsoil, then overseed.

Nurture Any Salt Injury

Look for signs of road salt injury: Dead grass along roads, walkways, and driveways, or in places where snow has been piled from plowing. Repair these injured sections by soaking the area thoroughly with a garden hose and then sprinkling on some topsoil and reseeding. Consider reseeding with more salt-tolerant grasses. Two popular forms of these grasses go by the common names "Fults" and "Salty."

About the Author

Marcia Passos Duffy is a freelancer who writes frequently about agriculture, gardening, and lawncare. She is a member of the Garden Writers Association. Visit her web site at:

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