Answers to Top Frequently Asked Questions about Warm Season Grass Mowing

warm season grass lousiana

If you’re like most homeowners, you have a few pressing questions about warm season grasses that need to be answered ASAP! Before we dive into the most commonly asked questions about your dormant grass and its best care recommendations, let’s get on the same page.

First-things-first, let’s make sure we understand what warm season grasses are. Warm season grasses, as the name implies, thrive in temperatures that are consistently over 75 degrees.

These warm-weather loving grasses are best used in warm regions such as the south, southeast, and southwest of the United States, where summers last longer, and average temperatures are higher. Now that we’ve got our definitions cleared up, let’s explore the most commonly asked questions about warm season grass and its care during winter and beyond.

Answers To Your FAQs About Your Warm Season Grass

1. What happens when my warm season grass goes dormant? When the temperatures begin to dip, warm season grasses become dormant. They change from green to brown, but this does not mean they have died. They are simply in their dormant state to ride out the cold seasons. Once temperatures rise above 75 in the spring, they will turn green again. If you live in an area that experiences extreme temperatures in the summer, you may notice a dormancy period during the hottest and driest parts of your summer as well.

2. When should I stop mowing my lawn before winter? The answer, well it depends. First, you have to define what frost zone you live in. (Hint – the Farmer’s Almanac can help with that.) Once determined, mow your warm season grass two or three times before the first frost arrives. Be sure to slowly reduce the blade’s height each time you mow before it gets too cold.

3. What are the common types of warm season grass? Another common warm season grass question goes something like this: Is Bermuda a warm season grass? How do I know if my grass is the kind that goes dormant during winter? Is Zoysia grass a warm season grass? To answer these pressing questions, the most common types of warm season grass include Bermudagrass, Bahia Grass, Centipede Grass, St. Augustine Grass and Zoysia Grass.

4. Should I mow dormant grass? In most cases, it is not necessary to mow dormant warm-season grasses. The exception to this recommendation is when the grass was left too long the previous fall. In this case, mowing the grass shorter in the spring is a recommended practice.

Proper mowing is the key to successful warm season grass and the overall health of your lawn. The guideline for mowing your winter season grass vary based on the type of grass you have, but three best practices hold true for all.

Tips for winter season grass mowing:

• Bag up the trash! Dispose of clippings to reduce thatch buildup in warm season lawns.
• Use a sharp blade! By using a sharp mower blade, your mowing will put less stress on the grass as well as help to prevent fungus.
• Never go too short! Don’t remove more than one-third of your warm season grass’s height in one mowing.

Height guidelines for your warm season grass:

• Bermudagrass – 3/4″ – 1 1/2″ inches
• St. Augustine Grass – 1 1/2″ – 3″ inches
• Centipede Grass – 1″ – 2″ inches
• Zoysia Grass – 3/4″ – 2 1/2″

5. How best should I wake up dormant grass? There is a chance that your warm season grass is not simply dormant. It could be dead. It’s hard to tell what the answer is until you begin to reverse the condition which is done by watering and as temperatures begin to warm up. By watering your warm season grass regularly, you should revive it from its dormant state in a matter of a few days. An important note – while you are in the process of watering your lawn to “wake it up,” try to limit foot traffic that can damage the root system. Also, refrain from mowing during this time period.

6. When will my grass go dormant? Warm season grass thrives in temps above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. When soil temperatures dip below 55 degrees, your grass will enter its dormant state. When this happens will vary based on where you live, and the weather patterns your region faces during any particular fall or winter season.

Now that we’ve gotten this pressing questions out of the way, it’s time to get out there and care for our lawns…well, if it’s time, that is! At Spring-Green, we’ve been helping homeowners and businesses maintain beautiful lawns and landscapes all year long for 40 years.

As your neighborhood lawn care professional, we will treat your lawn like it’s our own. When it’s time to wake up that dormant warm weather grass, you can count on our professional team of lawn care technicians for even the toughest challenge.

Contact your nearest neighborhood Spring-Green lawn care professional today.

Large Patch & Take-All Root Rot: Warm Season Grasses Patch Lawn Diseases

Summertime is for baseball games, playing in the park, taking bike rides and enjoying picnics with friends and families. It’s also the time for patch lawn diseases to become more noticeable in yards.

The patch diseases that can affect warm season grasses such as Bermuda, St. Augustine, Centipede and Zoysia, and affect much of the South and South East lawns include: Large Patch and Take-all Root Rot. These lawn diseases are present in the United States where weather is hot and humid. Although it may be too late to prevent these lawn diseases, there is still time to help your lawn recover from the effect of Large Patch and Take-all Root Rot.

Large Patch Lawn Disease

The prime conditions for Large Patch to occur on warm season grasses include: Zoysia, Centipede, St. Augustine, and Bermuda when the weather turns cool and wet in late summer and into fall. Large Patch, also sometimes referred to as Brown Patch, is active from the late summer through the following spring when grasses are growing slow and preparing to go dormant for the winter. The symptoms go unnoticed until the following spring when lawns start coming out of dormancy.

Large Patch disease favors soil temperatures of about 70˚ and during extended periods of overcast and rain. At first, the grass blades will turn reddish-brown and large patches will begin to develop that turn a yellow-brown color. When the disease is most active, the outer edge of the patch may have a noticeable red or orange color.

Large Patch in Alabama
Damage by Large Patch can last a long time. Infection occurs when the turf is growing slowly, such as when it is going into dormancy in the fall, during cooler temperatures during the winter or during spring green up. Large Patch is not active when temperatures exceed 86°F. Often turf will recover during the summer, but the recovery time can take several weeks. This is a disease that can be controlled with properly timed applications of a fungicide labelled to control Large Patch. Two applications in the fall and one application in the spring can offer effective large patch control.

Take-All Root Rot Lawn Disease

Take-all Root Rot will often cause root decline in most warm-season turfgrasses. In the past, this disease had several names; Bermuda grass decline, Centipede grass decline and St. Augustine grass decline. It is the number one disease that affects St. Augustine grass. Like Large Patch, it is more common in wet areas with either sandy soils or hard, compacted soils.

The patches take on either an irregular or regular circular shape. Symptoms start as grass blades tuning light green to yellow. Stolons often turn black and begin to rot. These symptoms can be confused with other problems, such as plant parasitic nematodes. If the disease is not controlled or if corrective cultural practices are not put into play, the blighted areas will remain and other unwanted grassy weeds or broadleaf weeds will move into the areas.

Treatment for Warm Season Grass Lawn Diseases

Both diseases can be helped with 2 disease control applications, spaced a month apart, applied in the fall when soil temperatures drop below 65°F. Following good cultural practices, including a core aeration in the summer, will help the turf to recover. If you suspect your lawn has one of these patch diseases, contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green.

How Cooler Temperatures Are Affecting Lawn and Landscape

Is It Spring Yet?

As is the case with most years, sometimes it will warm up early, fooling a lot of plants, including turfgrasses, to start the annual spring green-up. Only to be broadsided with an arctic blast and cooler temperatures that pushes plants back into winter dormancy.

Cool-season turfgrasses like bluegrass, ryegrass and the fescues are somewhat accustomed to these weather fluctuations, but the warm-season grasses, such as Centipede, St. Augustine and Bermuda grasses can be greatly affected by a cold snap after they have been coaxed into an early spring green-up by an early warm up. Such is the case with many lawns in the warmer parts of the United States.

Roland Freund, Franchise Owner in the Houston, Texas area, posted some information on his Facebook page about lawns in his area that are turning a purplish color due to some cooler temperatures that have pushed southward. Turf turning a purple color is often a sign of stress and when warm season grasses that have started to come out of winter dormancy get hit with freezing temperatures, the result can cause turf to turn an off-color. Luckily, it is a temporary condition and the turf generally recovers on its own.

Some warm-season grasses that have started to green-up can display an usual camouflage-like pattern when subjected to cooler to freezing temperatures, such as what you see in the picture below. This can happen to Bermuda and Zoysia grasses. Just as is the case with St. Augustine, this is a temporary problem and the grasses usually grow starting growing and the damage disappears as new grass blades cover up the blades that have turned brown.

grass in cooler temperatures
The one unknown for warm-season turfgrass lawns is how the extremely cold temperatures that affected much of the South in early to mid-January. Temperatures in the single digits is a common occurrence in the areas where cool-season turfgrasses grow, but this year many parts of the south experienced near record setting cold weather for an extended period. It is still a little early to tell if those temperatures had a lasting effect on lawns and landscapes in the South. I will tell you that I was conducting a training session in Lake Charles, Louisiana towards the end of January, and I saw many palms trees whose fronds were badly damaged by the cold weather. It is going to take some time for those trees and the lawns to recover from the cooler temperatures.

Caring for warm-season turfgrass lawns at this time of year focuses on controlling existing winter weeds and preventing the growth of annual grasses like crabgrass and goosegrass. Weeds are much more durable than turfgrasses and will quickly come back from the onslaught of freezing temperatures. It is almost time to start fertilizing these grasses, but patience is necessary. Applying fertilizer too early can have detrimental to these grasses.

As the South gets ready for the beginning of spring, what about the lawns and landscapes in the cool-season areas? Spring applications have started for lawns in the Transition Zone where Tall Fescue is the predominate turfgrass. Except for parts of Northern California, Oregon and Washington, it is still too early to prepare for the first application of spring.

It is a best practice to wait until the ground is no longer frozen to apply the first application. In many northern states, this is mandated by law to prevent run-off from fertilizer or weed control products off of the frozen ground. It is still early and spring will be here before we know it, unless, of course, the area is hit with a late winter storm – not an uncommon occurrence in March or even early April. The best thing to do is make sure the lawn mower is tuned up and plan ahead for the season. Spring is just around the corner, so remember you can count on your local Spring-Green to make sure your lawn looks green, and thick for the upcoming season!