Can Frost Cause Damage To My Lawn? The Effects of Frost on Grass

As the colder weather sets in, you may be wondering if frost will cause any damage to your lawn. As a homeowner, it’s important to be aware of the risks that cold weather brings, like frost damage to your lawn. You might not think so, but frost can actually have a big impact on grass, both in terms of appearance and health.

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the effects of frost on grass to help you better understand how to protect your property from potential damage. So, whether you’re a first-time homeowner wondering about what to expect during winter or you’re simply looking for ways to prepare your lawn for colder weather, read on for tips on how to keep your grass healthy through autumn and winter!

What Causes Frost?

A frost is a meteorological event that occurs when the temperature of the Earth’s surface falls below the freezing point of water. It happens specifically when the water vapor that forms in an above-freezing atmosphere comes into contact with a surface that is below-freezing. It changes phases from gaseous form to the solid form of ice.

Most commonly, frosts occur in cold environments such as in winter or during early morning hours. Although it is most common in cold environments, frosts can also form in warm environments if the weather conditions are right.

How Does Frost Impact Your Grass?

Frost can cause damage to plants and lawns when it forms since it can kill the grasses or other plants that make up the landscape of your backyard. The amount of damage done varies based on the type of grass and plants you have, and whether you have a “light” frost (between 0 C and -2 C, or 32-28 F) or a “hard” frost, which is below -2 C, or 28 F.

If you just have a light freeze, the root system of the grass will likely stay thawed, and therefore it can still circulate nutrients and water, meaning the grass above, even though it’s frozen, will still be alive and healthy when it thaws. You might have some blade damage, due to the water in and on the blades freezing and expanding and rupturing the cellular structure of the grass blades, but other than that they will stay relatively healthy.

With a hard freeze, the root system of the grass is likely to freeze as well. This means that the grass will not be able to heal the itself when the temperatures return to above freezing. At this point, your grass is likely to die, and it will start to develop discoloration, such as brown, yellow, or purple patches. Reseeding in the spring is the best idea if this is the case. The dead grass will grow to become thatch – if it is too thick you might need to dethatch it in the springtime.

Do Not Walk On a Frosted Lawn

Walking on a lawn that has frost on it, while it may seem fun to crunch the grass under your feet, is damaging to your lawn. Each blade of grass is literally frozen when frost is on your lawn – any walking on it or mowing it will cause the blades to break, and because water can’t travel through them, they won’t be able to heal themselves.

Additionally, the frost can be pressed down further into the grass and to the roots below, causing further structural damage through the expanding water molecules and the pressure the ice exerts on the ground.

Tips To Help Reduce Frost Damage

Frost can be a major problem for lawns, but there are ways to protect your grass. By following the tips in this post, you can keep your lawn healthy and lush all winter long – no matter how much frost comes your way.

Rake Leaves

First off, if you have a lot of leaves on your lawn, rake them up. Leaves, particularly when they are weighed down by ice forming on them, can crush your lawn and make it difficult for the grass to get sunlight, water, and oxygen needed to survive. Before the first frost of the winter, you want to have raked up all the leaves in your yard.

Add Mulch

Another thing you can do to prevent your grass from succumbing to frost damage is to add a layer of mulch to it, and especially around trees, shrubs, and garden plants.

Mulch is beneficial because it insulates plants, allowing them to retain water. It will aid your plants in resisting frost damage by keeping water flowing better throughout the soil and also just adding another layer of above-freezing soil as insulation.

Water Your Lawn

If you are aware that a frost is coming up, you can protect your grass by giving your lawn a deep watering right before. This can be done in the afternoon or evening. It might seem counterintuitive – more water typically means more ice and frost – but it somehow works.

The water will slowly evaporate overnight. This evaporative process will keep the thin blades of grass insulated, or at least help them stay above the freezing temperature of the soil around them. Therefore, your grass won’t develop frost and the water within it won’t damage the cells’ structure.

Does Frost Kill Grass Seed?

Can frost kill your grass seed? Yes and no. The quick answer is that frost will not kill the grass seed itself, but this does not negate the need for caution when planting grass seeds during a danger of frost. While the seeds will endure until the next agricultural season, any seedlings that develop from them will not. So, if you plant about a week before a frost sets in, any progress you made up to that point will be lost.

Your seeds will last through the winter if they need to, but you should look into proper timing schedules for planting grass seed, as this will save you time, money, and lots of hassle.

How To Protect New Grass From Frost

If you have just planted new grass and a frost looks imminent, then there are some things you can do to minimize the damage it will do. Firstly, when planting your new seeds, make sure your grass and soil are well watered. This will keep them more insulated and healthy if frost does come.

You can also cover any areas of new grass seedlings with a tarp or cloth of some sort, like a blanket, in the event of a frost emergency. This will keep the air immediately surrounding the grass just warm enough to not freeze, insulating the layer of grass and grass seeds on the lawn’s surface. Plus, the ground will retain heat easier, meaning the roots are less likely to freeze and can continue to supply the grass blades with water and nutrients.


Frost can be a major problem for your lawn. It can cause extensive damage, making your lawn look brown and dead. In this post, we’ve looked at the effects of frost on grass and some tips to help reduce frost damage.

Remember to never walk on a frosted lawn and to make sure you rake you leaves in the fall. If you have new grass seed, be sure to protect it from frost by using a covering or insulation. Follow these simple tips to keep your lawn healthy all winter long!

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns, and we would be happy to help in any way we can! Good luck, and we hope your lawn stays safe from frost.

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Written by Linda Chan
Linda Chan is a passionate gardener and writer with a background in horticulture and landscape design. She has over 10 years of experience working in the lawn care industry and has a deep understanding of the science and art of keeping a lawn healthy and beautiful.