Winter Lawn Problems

Author: Stefan Palm   Date Posted: 1 June 2017 

Most lawns go into dormancy or stop growing when the weather gets too cold. That can be a blessing to the gardener because it means less mowing and edge trimming during those cold, wet months. Generally speaking, your lawn should look after itself and be trouble free over winter however if you notice it loosing colour, becoming patchy or even disappearing altogether, there are some things that you can do understand and solve these problems. 

Let me tell you about some of the issues that most commonly cause dead or patchy areas in your lawn during winter.

Poor drainage

Poor drainage is a common cause of patchiness in a lawn during winter. When water is unable to drain away from a lawn, it inevitably causes problems. Over time, water will starve the soil of oxygen which is a problem. The result is, the lawn will brown off and recede from the waterlogged areas. On top of that, the area will no doubt become boggy which makes it more susceptible to wear and tear. The short story here is lawns don’t like waterlogged soil so if you have this problem, you will need to solve your drainage issues in order maintain a healthy lawn during winter.

Moss and Algae

Areas of lawn that are constantly wet during winter create prime growing environments for moss and algae. I have written other blogs on the effects on moss and algae so if you have this problem, have a read here. In a nut shell, while moss and algae is easy to control, if it is left unchecked, it can successfully take over your lawn!

Excessive wear on a dormant lawn

Most lawns are dormant during winter. This means that they stop growing during the cooler months. This also means that they have no capacity to repair themselves from wear and tear when it’s cold. If you have a reasonable amount of traffic on your lawn during winter, you may find patches appearing which is simply a result of overuse on a dormant lawn. It’s probably worth mentioning here that lawns that are water logged and have moss and algae growing in them are going to be more susceptible to wear and tear in winter – so you can see how problems can begin to compound….

Pet urine stains

This point ties in with the one above to a large extent. If you have a dog and it urinates on your lawn, this can often leave a brown patch. Because the lawn is dormant, it cannot repair itself from this damage till spring. If your dog urinates on it 2 or 3 times per day during winter, you can see how quickly these spots could accumulate.


Scalping is where you cut your lawn too short, leaving behind patchy swirl marks from the mower. If you do this during the growing season, it’s no big deal because the grass will grow back relatively quickly however if you do it during winter, it will not recover till spring.

Fungal Disease

And then of course, there is always the possibility that you have a fungal disease.  Fungal diseases are uncommon and can be generally kept at bay with good lawn management practices, but in the unlikely event that you do get one, bring a core sample down to us at Paul Munns Instant Lawn for identification and advice on how to solve the problem.

After reading through these possibilities, I hope that one of them stands out as the likely cause of dead or patchy areas for you. If you would like further information, give us a call on 8298 0555, send us an email or drop in and see us at 356 Brighton Rd, HOVE, SA.

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