What are Jack Frost Trails in Lawns?

As the seasons change from autumn to winter, home turfgrass can be affected by harsh conditions. While the soil may still be warm, the air becomes colder, leading to unusual results in lawns, including the appearance of tiger stripes or Jack Frost trails.

What do Jack Frost Trails look like?

Jack Frost trails often resemble zebra-like patterns, which can be mistaken for lawn diseases or pest infestations. However, unlike lawn diseases, which start in small patches and expand, or pests that create a straight path in your lawn, Jack Frost trails typically cover entire lawns and are scattered throughout.

What causes Jack Frost Trails in Lawns?

Jack Frost trails are caused by unsynchronized dormancy, which is when grass goes dormant at different stages. This can be caused by factors such as cold air temperatures, warm soil conditions, moisture in the air, and the density/height of the grass. When these conditions are combined with thermal currents, some sections of the lawn will turn brown while others remain unaffected.

Which types of grass are affected by Jack Frost Trails?

Warm season lawns, such as Zoysia and Bermuda grass, are the most common types of grass that experience Jack Frost Trails. However, not all warm season grasses may develop stripes, as the conditions have to be favorable for Jack Frost Trails to occur.

Should I worry about Jack Frost trails in my lawn?

There is no need to worry about Jack Frost trails in your lawn. Although the grass blades may experience frost damage, the roots will continue to grow and heal, and the entire lawn will eventually enter dormancy. These stripes are simply a result of the changing seasons and cold temperatures.


In conclusion, Jack Frost trails are a unique and normal occurrence in lawns during the transition from autumn to winter. They are caused by unsynchronized dormancy and are most common in warm season lawns. There is no need for concern, as the roots will continue to grow and the entire lawn will eventually enter dormancy.

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