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How to Save Winter-kill Grass

By Elizabeth Knoll ; Updated September 21, 2017
A healthy, lush lawn.
brick wall curving with grass lawn image by Stephen Orsillo from Fotolia.com

Under the melting snow that sat in your yard all winter lies your once lush lawn. Before the snow fell on the ground, your lawn was probably green and robust. The deep snow, frozen ground and cold temperatures deprived your lawn of what it needed to thrive and made your grass look like it was damaged beyond repair. However, with a few tools and a little time, you can revive your grass and give it what it needs to become lush once again.

Wait for the snow to melt and the ground to completely thaw. Depending on how wet your lawn is, you also may need to wait until it dries out a little. You can cause more damage than good by working on a soggy, wet lawn.

De-thatch your lawn. Thatch is a buildup of old grass clippings, dead grass stems, dead roots and other debris that builds up on top of the soil in your lawn. You can rent a de-thatcher from your local home improvement store that will remove the thatch in short order from your lawn.

Aerate your lawn to break up soil. It also allows oxygen and other nutrients to reach the grass roots. Aerators can also be rented from your local home improvement store.

Fertilize the lawn with a lawn fertilizer rich in nitrogen. The nitrogen will give the lawn a jump start to put out lush, green growth. Read the fertilizer bag for the recommended fertilization rate and apply with a broadcast spreader.

Water your grass deeply once or twice a week. The goal is to provide your lawn with an inch of water per week over one or two waterings. Set a pan out in the lawn to measure how long it takes your sprinklers to reach one inch and adjust the watering time accordingly.

Apply a winterizer in the fall. These winterizer fertilizers promote robust root development in your lawn grass to help it get through a harsh winter. Read the fertilizer bag and apply at the recommended rate with your broadcast spreader after top growth has ceased in the autumn.


Things You Will Need

  • De-thatcher
  • Aerator
  • Lawn fertilizer
  • Broadcast spreader
  • Lawn sprinklers
  • Garden hose
  • Winterizer fertilizer


  • You can also mow your grass shorter than normal in the fall before the snow falls. This will help prevent your grass from becoming matted over the winter when the snow covers it and also help reduce the thatch that develops.
  • You may need to seed a few areas that don't recover from the above steps. Sometimes the lawn is too far damaged to recover and will need to be helped along with a little extra grass seed. The seed should be applied in the late summer or early fall and kept moist until germination occurs.