December 21, 2016
The Lawn in Winter…Tips to Keep It Healthy
It’s that time of year again…the “vacation” from lawn care period after your fall fertilizing, raking and overseeding is finally done. Now you’re looking out at the lawn…and there’s a good chance it may be turning brown. Remember that brown grass in the winter doesn’t mean that your hard-won lovely lawn is dead; it has simply gone dormant and will green up once again when the temperatures begin to rise. If we’re having our typical dry, relatively warm Southern winter, be sure to run your irrigation or sprinkler system once a week to keep the grass from dying. You can lessen the chances of your lawn turning brown, and you can take advantage of the warm temperatures that will help keep it viable. Watch for invading weeds and make sure to completely remove any large ones, especially those with taproot. Treat the area thoroughly with herbicide to prevent regrowth. The best time to take on this task is a dry, warm day when temperatures are over 60°F. For taller weeds, use a reel mower periodically to keep your lawn tidy. Otherwise, you shouldn’t mow your lawn at all during the winter season in the South. Make sure your grass is as short as possible at the end of the fall lawn care season. Short grass also protects any new growth that may be more fragile near the end of the growing season. When your lawn is brown and short it can be easy for you and the people around you to forget that it is more delicate than vibrant green warm weather grass. Try to prevent moderate to heavy foot traffic on your winter lawn. Grass is relatively resilient on the whole, but it will have a difficult time bouncing back after the winter season if a path becomes well-worn across the lawn. While it may be tempting during holiday get-togethers where several cars and trucks bring family and friends to your home, never allow anyone to park on your lawn. Even the lightest vehicle will make impressions in the soil and kill off the grass that is underneath the tires. Using the lawn as a parking lot is the fastest way to kill the good grass and make room for crabgrass and other types of weeds. Keeping your lawn clean and tidy is essential during cold weather in the South. It is extremely important not to leave debris, leaves or toys out on the lawn. These things can smother the grass, encourage disease, and invite insects, mice, and other damaging pests. Tall lawns or lawns with obstructed growth are dangerous during the winter months. Field mice and other burrowing animals that want a warm place to sleep can take advantage of shelter provided by weeds and places to hide. Mice can destroy large parts of your lawn when they build their nests. They create dead spots where they spend all of their time and pull up large amounts of grass to build their winter homes. Winter is also the perfect time to plant new shrubs and trees, as long as the ground is soft enough to be broken. Choose your favorites and add to your lawn décor during the cooler months. Winter is also the ideal time to prune limbs from existing trees. With just a little attention, your winter lawn can get the rest it needs to spring to life again when the temperatures start to rise!