Frost and extremely cold temperatures aren’t something lawns are typically used to in South East Queensland but if current reports and photos are anything to go by – frost is indeed happening right here in our own backyard.
What you can expect
It’s usual for grass, even those varieties perfectly suited to cold temperatures, to slow down their growth during Winter. If your lawn has succumbed to frost damage you’ll certainly know it – yellow or brownish patches will appear amongst the green and the damaged turf will look obviously damaged.
Why does it happen
During a frost ice crystals form and break down the membranes in the cells which leads to dehydration and general cell damage. Frost also causes slowing down of photosynthesis leading to the turf not being able to generate enough food. Overall the activity of many enzymes slows down and so, processes are compromised. The variety of turf you have will greatly determine how sensitive your lawn is to frost damage.
What can you do to help
A turf’s tolerance to frost can be aided by the overall good health of your lawn. Iron solution application can help as can nitrogen. Thoroughly watering in the weeks leading up to a cold snap can help by ensuring a strong root system but if you’ve missed that opportunity you can still provide assistance.
It’s most important that you prevent any ice from glazing on the turf since solid ice will make the grass even colder than freezing temperature air will. Ice will also keep the grass from breathing. If the sun isn’t warmer up and melting the frost fast enough you can turn the sprinkler on for about 30 seconds to help the frost to dissipate.
Whenever there is frost on the lawn you must keep off it – the grass blades are literally frozen so walking on it, driving on it or allowing the dog to run around on it will cause the blades to break and become damaged.
Recovery from frost damage is possible but you might need to wait until the warmer weather returns. A recovery lawn will need some extra watering and fertilising.