What to Do When Snow Won’t Fall: Lawn Care During a Winter Drought


When you think winter, the first thing you think of is snow. To those of us who live in northerly climates, snow is the defining quality of winter. When we imagine the season, we think of beautiful crystal snowflakes falling elegantly from the sky. Or, we think of breaking our backs while shoveling piles of heavy, wet ice and snow off our driveways and sidewalks.


Snow Does Provide Your Lawn One Benefit...


Regardless of how you imagine snow, it does provide one huge benefit to your lawn- when it melts it provides necessary, life-giving moisture to your grass, trees, and shrubs. The living flora in your lawn’s eco system needs water to grow, even when it has entered its dormant period in winter.


However, there are years when it does not snow in the winter. Droughts can happen in any season, and while we usually associate them with the summer months, winter droughts can and do happen. A winter drought can kill patches of your lawn before the growing season even starts, or even worse, they can damage the root systems of your decorative trees and shrubs. Evergreen trees are particularly vulnerable to winter drought.


The question is: how do you take care of your lawn during a winter drought?


If it does not snow for a two-week period you will need to water your lawn when the opportunity presents itself. Specifically, wait till the temperature rises above freezing, and water your lawn as you would in the summer and spring.  Make sure you prioritize watering any evergreen plants you have in your yard including shrubs and trees. Evergreen plants require more water in winter as they do not shed their leaves in the autumn like other plants. If the forecast calls for a big temperature drop over night (possibly bringing the temperature below freezing) make sure you irrigate in the middle of the day so that water can be absorbed by your plants before nightfall when it may freeze.


You may feel an initial sense of relief when you look at your winter forecast and see no snowfall on the horizon. No snow means no shoveling! It is important to remember that the snow is an important and necessary part of the lifecycle of your lawn. If snow is not in the forecast, remember to take steps to keep your lawn green and healthy, even if it is cold outside.