Winter can be a tricky season for homeowners tending to their lawn, and your grass care plan can come with many questions. How much should you water? How do you keep your lawn free of disease? These questions begin with identifying your zone. If you live in the south, then you may have warm-season grass, and your lawn care approach needs to adapt to your environment. We have the right plan for your warm-season grass and winter lawn care.
Warm-Season Zone & Transition Zone
If you live in the southern half of the United States, such as the sunbelt, then you live in the warm-season zone. In the warm-season zone, lawns have lush, warm-season grass. However, if you live in the Transition Zone, which is the middle of the United States, you may also have warm-season grass! Think about your climate: if your area often has warmer temperatures in the 80s and 90s, you probably have warm-season grass, as that type of grass thrives in that climate.
Still not sure if you have warm-season grass? Before you plan your lawn care for winter, try to identify your grass to confirm it is warm-season. Here are some common warm-season grasses:
- St. Augustine
Lawn Winter Dormancy
Lawns with warm-season grasses enter "dormancy" in winter. That means your lawn enters deep sleep, almost like hibernation. During this time, your lawn will not be very green or lively, but it’s also not dead. It conserves nutrients in its roots, so when the first signs of spring appear, your lawn will be ready to grow again! But there are risks during dormancy – without active growth or life in your lawn, your grass can be susceptible to death.
Final Fertilizing of your Lawn
Before winter begins, you have to give your lawn the last dose of nutrients it needs to survive a long winter. The final time to fertilize your warm-season lawn is in late summer or early fall. During this final fertilizing period, we recommend using the 3-18-18 Liquid Lawn Fertilizer.
You may be wondering why we recommend the formula with a low dose of nitrogen. Instead of stimulating new growth with nitrogen, we want to prepare your warm-season grass for a healthy dormant winter. The healthy dormant winter we want to achieve is one without disease, and a lush lawn at the end of a long winter season, with little care in the meantime! To do that, in the final fertilizing period of the year, avoid using nitrogen. Potassium is important in your grass care, as it helps plant hardiness.
Winterize Your Lawn
Once you have fed your lawn its last fertilizer before winter, it’s time to adjust some final steps in your lawn care before your lawn is completely dormant. While your lawn is still growing, begin to mow your grass high. We recommend raising the mowing height of your grass by about half an inch. Mowing your grass higher than usual for the winter season will protect your lawn from harsh environmental changes that could damage your lawn or put it at risk for disease. You also should change the amount you are watering your lawn. In preparation for, and during, the dormant season, change your watering amount to only one inch per week. We recommend spreading this out to two or three watering sessions a week that add up to one inch of water.
Lawn Care During the Winter Months
Your lawn is now prepared for winter! Grass care during the winter months is all about observation. Check your lawn often for water and debris. If you have trees hovering over your lawn, make sure you clear away any leaves or branches that may have gathered. Covering your warm-season lawn with leaves can create a breeding ground for disease! You also want to avoid over-irrigation, especially if you are in an area that is prone to rain, so keep track of how much water your lawn is receiving.
Sensitive to Cold
Your warm-season lawn does not do well in cold temperatures. Preventing and containing signs of winterkill should be a priority in your winter grass care. If you are seeing patches of your grass that are dying, don’t freak out! You can always spread a little seed or lay sod in the early spring; the important thing is to make sure the rest of your lawn doesn't fall victim to winterkill. Try to figure out why that patch of lawn is dying – is there too much water there? Were there leaves and debris there for an extended period? Find the source of the problem and be meticulous in preventing that problem around the rest of your lawn.
Adapting your lawn care plan to prepare your warm-season grass for winter can save you a lot of time and effort. If your grass care does not create a safe, healthy dormant season, then you could be seeding and sodding in the spring while all your neighbors watch their grass grow back on its own! By taking extra steps in your winter grass care, you can ensure your lawn’s health and revival! When the time comes for spring growth, grab our 16-4-8 Liquid Lawn Food to replenish your lawn for the growing season!