One of the prettiest sights on a cold winter’s morning is a lawn covered in an icy shimmer of frost. However, as lovely as this may look to a passersby, turf managers know just how dangerous this frozen moisture can really be.
Most people typically think of frost as something that is dangerous to plants, but they do not really extend this thought to lawns. In fact children tend to love the idea of skidding across frozen lawns at high speed (and perhaps free-spirited adults too, when no-one is looking); and on any sports surface athletes will simply ignore frost knowing that it will melt away, especially after a team of feet have stamped all over it.
Unfortunately grass, especially short mowed and manicured turf grass, is highly susceptible to damage from frost and from people tramping all over it’s frozen blades. A grass blade, like most cellulose based organic matter, is composed primarily of water. When temperatures drop not only does moisture freeze on the blades, its internal cell structures freeze too.
When heavy humans walk over grass it is damaged in two ways. Firstly frozen blades can easily snap; and secondly, the cells within the blade are ruptured which means they can’t function normally when the grass thaws out. Frost damage isn’t always noticeable immediately, and it can take anywhere between two and three days for the grass to die and turn brown.
Essentially this means that golfers can obliviously swing their clubs all day and not comprehend the punishment that they are laying on the turf. This is especially poignant when one considers the traffic that a popular club will see on any given morning, and the great expense and time required to maintain it during the rest of the year. Hence it is the turf manager’s responsibility to enforce tee-off waiting periods in the winter, and this logic extends to sports fields of any kind. By making sure the grass thaws out before use, this prevents bald patches and weed invasions later in the season.
When it comes to office lawns exactly the same frost damage prevention is applicable. Employees need to be warned about taking short-cuts across lawns, no-one should be allowed to park on the lawn and regular visitors like the postman need to know to stick to paved footpaths. Saving your lawn or sports turf during frosty months is really about informing people of the damage that is caused by stepping on grass when it is frozen. No-one wants to hurt the grass on purpose, they simply do not know any better.
At Servest Turf we are well versed on the natural phenomena of frost, and with our experienced turf managers are able to successfully protect lawns and sports turfs all through the winter. You can be sure that come spring your lawn will be back to a brilliant green as soon as Mother Nature allows.