Winter living in a southern climate can be the most glorious time of year. Humidity levels drop, the sun continues to shine, all while temperatures are seemingly perfect. As an added layer, we watch as the rest of the country struggles with snow, ice, and freezing temps – making us appreciate our lot in life that much more. There are nuances, however, to caring for our lawn during these cooler winter months that can help us keep our outdoor living spaces thriving all year round. Let’s unpack the why’s, how’s, and do’s, versus the don’ts of caring for your winter lawn in a southern climate.
Attention Southern Climate Dwellers: Your Tips for a Thriving Lawn This Winter
1. The differences in summer lawn care and winter lawn care
Even though the winter is mild and the threat of a frost may be minimal in southern areas, winter lawn care does come with some special instructions. As the temps drop (ever so slightly) and the rainy season closes, it’s important to continue to mow your lawn to encourage growth and prevent disease. When it appears to stop growing, you can give your mower a break. In the late fall, it may be a good idea to aerate your lawn to help increase root growth and promote breathing as well as minimize thatch build up to avoid susceptibility to diseases and insects.
2. Understanding winter lawn fertilization
When it comes to fertilizing your winter lawn, commonly asked questions are sure to pop up. Is it okay to fertilize my lawn in winter? What type of fertilizer should I put on my lawn when it’s cold? When and how much should I fertilize my winter lawn? Here are some rules of thumb: If you have warm season grasses (such as Bermuda, St. Augustine, Zoysia, or Centipede), fertilizers that contain winterizers should not be used because they’re designed for lawns that go dormant in the winter, not lawns in warmer climates where winterizing is less of an issue. Warm season grasses respond best to fertilization when the temps are warm and the grass is growing.
3. No break from weeding during winter
While warm climate dwellers do get a break from snowy roads and frozen sidewalks, they don’t get a break from weeding the lawn. Keep up with your weeding during the winter months by applying a broadleaf weed control treatment. Raking and clearing away thatch and debris will also contribute to your lawn’s overall health during winter and all year round.
4. Give special attention to warm season grasses
Warm season grass can be defined as types of grasses that have maximum growth at higher temperatures (in the range of 80-95 degrees Fahrenheit). Warm season grass species usually include Bahia Grass, Bermuda Grass, Carpet Grass, St. Augustine, and Zoysia. These grasses will go dormant if temps fall below freezing and return when warm weather returns. If your climate rarely or never falls below freezing, your warm weather grass will need moderate mowing (not too much, not too little) and, depending on the rainfall in your area, watering. Be careful not to overwater and night watering may also be avoided during winter months.
5. School yourself on the do’s and don’ts for winter lawn care
It’s winter, and if you live in the south, you’re relishing in the break from the heat! But don’t forget about the most important do’s and don’ts for winter lawn care:
- DO – Clean debris, leaves, and toys or trash to allow your winter lawn to breathe, as well as avoid conditions that promote disease and invite unwanted pests like insects and rodents.
- DO – Pay attention to your lawn mowing practices. Be sure to lower the height of your mower and avoid over-mowing to avoid damage to your winter lawn.
- DON’T – Walk all over-sensitive lawns. While dormant grass can certainly tolerate a moderate amount of traffic, heavy traffic will cause problems.
- DON’T – Assume the weather will always be perfect. Extreme weather patterns occur more and more frequently, making it important to monitor weather conditions even in warm climates. Conditions like heavy rains or uncharacteristic cold temps can harm your winter lawn without preparation.
If you’re one of the lucky ones that resides in a warm climate during the winter, your trade-off for not having to shovel snow is that your winter lawn care may require a bit more from you all year round. The good news is it will actually be warm enough for you to get outside and enjoy the green garden. Follow these best practices to keep your winter lawn healthy and set your spring, summer and fall lawn up for beauty and health as well.
If you are in need of a professional to help you with your lawn care needs, don’t hesitate to contact Spring-Green, the neighborhood lawn care team that has been supporting communities likes yours since 1977. We can provide the professional and courtesy service you need to keep your residential or commercial property looking great 365 days out of the year and through any type of weather.