Kildare's Wildlife Watch: Why you should never walk on frozen grass

With the Irish Peatland Conservation Council

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: Why you should never walk on frozen grass

Frozen grass. Picture: Nuala Madigan

With this cold weather we have been experiencing over the past few weeks, looking at the grass in my garden covered in frost I remembered a piece I wrote back in the summer of 2018.

During this summer, we experienced a drought and my lawn turned brown. At the time I wondered whether my lawn would recover, or will I have to reseed it? Now, although it is the complete opposite of warm weather as I write this piece, I am again looking at my lawn each morning covered in white frost, with temperatures reaching well below zero.

At the Bog of Allen Nature Centre on the night of the January 6, we recorded a minimum ground temperature of -6.8o Celsius. With the continuous cold, frosty nights, I now find myself asking, what type of lawn will I have when spring arrives?

Nature adapts

But as I question, I have to remember that nature has many wonderful ways of adapting to its environmental conditions. Of course, an important adaptation at this time of year is hibernation.

However, our lawn does not retreat underground like a primrose — rather, it moves into a phase of dormancy where the plant becomes less active.

This is easily observed in our gardens, as during the winter months we do not need to cut our grass as its growth rate is not like that of the spring and summer months. This is my lawn’s main defense against these freezing winter conditions.

The roots being buried deep in the ground also help to shield the plant from the freezing conditions we are experiencing above the ground.

One tip I did learn to help protect my lawn is to never walk on the frozen blades of grass. These blades are responsible for making food for the plant and store water. When they freeze, each footstep on the lawns simply snaps these blades, which will limit the grass’s ability to recover in spring.

As you stay at home for the next few weeks what will you find visiting your garden?

If you need help identifying any wild species contact me at bogs@ipcc.ie.

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