While Florida may not have the brutal winters of our northern neighbors, our grass may still need a little more attention as the cool season approaches. This is because, like so many Floridians, warm season grass simply isn’t used to the bitter cold.
Most grasses of the south, such as Zoysia and St. Augustine, will sustain some discoloration at the onset of cooler temperatures. Though not as attractive as their usual shade of green, this is a natural defense against the cold and occurs in anticipation of a recovery in spring. However, in some cases, when the freeze is too severe, or when proper precautions haven’t been taken to prepare, or “winterize”, the lawn, low temperatures can lead to lasting damage. Consider the following tips so you can look forward to a green, healthy lawn come springtime.
Fertilization is important for a plush and healthy lawn, but the wrong mix at the wrong time could lead to more harm than good. This is because ill-timed fertilization efforts (especially applications rich in nitrogen) lead to new growth—which is particularly susceptible to low temperatures. Deans’ lawn fertilization program is tailored to the environmental conditions in your area so that your lawn gets a balanced delivery all year-round.
Over-watering can increase the damage caused by a freeze or severe frost, but not watering at all can present
problems as well. Your irrigation schedule should be adjusted in response to rainfall and temperature, but until the
temperature reaches 45°, water should still be applied to keep your lawn from drying up .
Remember, Deans’ AquaCheck irrigation maintenance program provides year-round monitoring to ensure that your system is applying just the right amount of water at just the right time.
Because shade prevents the sun from warming the soil, grass in these areas stays colder longer. Extreme shade also slows the turf’s production of carbohydrates which are needed to tolerate cold. Reduce this risk by trimming trees or bushes in excessively shady areas.
Even with all the aforementioned preparations, a frost or hard freeze can still damage your turf. In the event of a frost (that is, when it’s just cold enough for ice crystals to form on the surface of your lawn…but not quite cold enough to freeze) be sure to run your irrigation immediately to rinse away this layer of frost and prevent damage to the grass blade. About 5 minutes per zone should suffice.
If a freeze occurs, your action is simple: Don’t water. Watering in freezing conditions will only intensify any damage to your grass. By having properly prepared your grass for this weather, your turf should shed any dead tissue and rebound nicely in the spring.
Generally, January and February are the coldest months here in central Florida, however, cold fronts have been known to come in as late as April, so keep these tips in mind and keep an eye on the forecast. As always, if you have any questions about your lawn or would like more information on our fertilization program, call us at (352) 787-5300.
Recommended Water Schedule
- Above 85° - Water 3/4" 2 or 3 times a week
- 76-85° - Water 1/2" twice weekly
- 46-75° - Water 1/2" once a week
- Below 46° - Do Not Water