Repairing Winter Storm Damage in Your Lawn and Landscape

2 Materials
30 Minutes

Have winter storms wreaked havoc on your lawn? Are you dealing with broken shrubs or fallen tree branches? You may be wondering if your homeowner’s insurance will cover the damage. Read on for info and how-tos on lawn and yard winter storm damage repair.

First, inspect your yard – look for broken or fallen branches, and brown patches in the lawn. Other evil-doers include city snow plows, plus sand and salt trucks.

Clearing city streets of snow and ice may be a necessity, but the remaining salt water can damage your lawn and landscape. Road salt draws moisture from grass and landscape plants, causing dehydration.
Does my lawn have salt damage?

Most city lawns are next to residential streets and roadways which means salt buildup in your lawn can be a problem. Finding yellow or brown blades of grass may be an indicator of salt damage. In spring, check to see whether your grass is dormant or dead – rake a section of brown grass – look down between the blades. If you see green, the area should regrow – if not, apply a gypsum soil conditioner to help reverse the damage. Gypsum soil conditioner contains a combination of sulfur and calcium. These ingredients counteract the salt and help retain moisture in the soil.
To renew a salt-damaged lawn –
  • Rake out the dead grass
  • Add a gypsum soil conditioner
  • Add a thin layer of compost + apply new grass seed
  • Water often until seedlings are established

To fix brown lawn patches –
  • Remove the brown area, plus a few inches of the underlying soil
  • Apply a layer of compost or topsoil
  • Lightly rake new grass seed into the top layer
  • Lightly tamp down
  • Water often until seedlings are established

Extra tips:
  • Snowplows and sand trucks are notorious for throwing sand into yards. Use a shop vac to pick up sand and small stones from your lawn, garden beds and sidewalk.
  • Wrap your landscape plants in burlap to protect them from salt and sand truck overspray.
How to repair lawn damage from heavy snow cover –
Deep piles of snow and ice that sit on your lawn for extended periods can compress the soil and eventually kill the grass. Gypsum will loosen the soil and improve drainage. Loosen the dirt with a rake and apply gypsum – a 40-pound bag of will cover approximately 200 sq. ft. For additional tips on repairing your lawn, visit here.

How to repair damage to trees/shrubs caused by salt truck de-icer –
If you notice branch dieback or yellow leaves in spring, your landscape plants may have damage from road salt. If you suspect that salt has landed on your landscape plants, spray them with the hose and to deep-water the soil to rinse away any residual salts. Spring rains will wash away any remaining residue.
How to repair damage to trees/shrubs caused by heavy snow cover –
A heavy snow or ice storm can weigh down and break branches. Look for broken or splintered branches and prune them. If they’re large or out of reach, call a landscape professional to have them removed. Trees and shrubs with broken spots are more susceptible to disease and insects, so it’s important to remedy the problem as quickly as possible.

Extra tips:
  • Don’t shake bent, snow-covered tree limbs – they can break. Carefully remove the snow from ground-level branches with brushing it way with your hands.
  • Shoveling snow – If you suspect the snow on your driveway or walkway contains salt, avoid piling snow near your landscape plants. As the snow melts, it will transfer salt to the soil.

Help for Hardscaping
Masonry, stone, brick, and concrete are sturdy materials, but they are susceptible to salt damage as well. Thoroughly rinse hardscape surfaces with water to remove salt – check them for pitting or rough spots. Repair damage with a concrete patch. Apply a sealer to protect it from future damage.

Mortar damage – The mortar between bricks, pavers, and stones can become loose when repeatedly exposed to salt water.  If you find areas of weak or crumbling mortar, reset the material, add fresh mortar, and seal the surface to prevent salt from working its way into the mortar. For elaborate stonework or specialty concrete surfaces, contact a licensed contractor for repairs.

Extra tip: Some salt damage may continue to worsen for several weeks – even after cleaning. Wait a few months before applying a sealer – you may discover that some surfaces will need replacement.

Learn more structural storm repair tips and how-tos here.

Will homeowner’s insurance cover winter storm damage?
The answer is, it depends. A standard homeowner’s insurance policy can help cover certain types of winter storm damage –
  • Damage from water, ice, and hail – coverage for water damage may vary, depending on the cause
  • Wind and fallen trees – If a storm barrels through your neighborhood you may find that your roof shingles are damaged. Homeowner’s insurance usually covers damage due to high winds.
  • Lightning strikes and power surges – If lightning strikes your home or other covered structure, any resulting damage such as fire or smoke is usually covered by homeowner’s insurance. Some policies also cover outages and damage due to power surges that result from a lightning strike. This includes damage to electronics and household appliances.

Most standard policies do not cover damage due to –
  • Floods
  • Earthquakes

As with most coverage, limits will apply. Read your insurance policy to discover what types of winter storm damage may or may not be covered.

Don’t feel defeated when reviewing your lawn after the prolonged winter weather! The above tips and how-tos on repairing winter storm damage will help you revitalize your yard in no time.

Suggested materials:

  • Rake
  • Gypsum Soil Conditioner

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