Though we experience relatively mild winters here in South Florida, you may still notice a lackluster appearance to your lawn as the cool months progress. The most popular turf grass species here in Florida are warm-season grasses that benefit from special care as the temperatures lower. To keep your grass happy, take these steps.
Get that final mow in: Grass becomes weaker in winter, so you want to avoid cutting it during the coldest months. Mow between late October and mid November to keep your lawn neat during the next few months. Make sure your mower’s blades are sharpened, and avoid removing more than ⅓ of the grass blade height at a time since removing too much at once stresses the turf.
Test the soil: A soil test will tell you whether or not your lawn needs fertilizing, and which nutrients are particularly lacking. Over-fertilizing is just as bad, so don’t feel pressured to apply a fall fertilization if the test reveals nice, balanced nutrient levels. Balance is key when it comes to nature–you want to make sure your lawn has adequate nutrients so that your grass’s roots are as strong as possible before winter.
Use the lack of growth during this season to tackle weeds: Weeds disrupt the color and uniformity of your lawn, and it’s good to target them in winter when they are more vulnerable. Staying on top of weed control during winter will also decrease your workload come spring. We offer many different herbicides that will kill weeds without harming your turf.
Remove dead grass material or any leaves that are piling up on your lawn: Over the course of the year, dead and living material builds up at the base of your grass. This includes dead blades, roots, rhizomes, etc. and is referred to as thatch. This layer of thatch creates ideal conditions during the winter for fungal growth and significantly decreases the amount of air and water that reach the soil. Don’t know if you have thatch? When you walk on your lawn, a thick layer of thatch will cause it to feel slightly springy or spongy. To dethatch your lawn, use a metal rake to comb through the grass. Apply pressure to make sure you are breaking up and removing the thatch, since buildup can become compacted. There’s no need to waste this organic matter though–throw it on your compost pile to use some summer.
Aerate and over-seed your lawn: Aeration helps air permeate into the soil so that your grass’s roots get adequate oxygen to strengthen before winter, and creates space for new seed to grow. If your lawn tends to suffer during the cold months, over seed with a cool season grass. By over-seeding with a cool season species, you effectively give your lawn a backup for the winter–your base layer of a popular warm season turf grass (such as Bermuda, Zoysia, or Centipede grass) may suffer a little during our coolest period, while a safety layer of cool season tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass will stay green throughout the winter.
Follow these tips, and you’ll have your lawn looking fresh and green throughout the winter and ahead of the curve come spring. If you need more advice, or need sod or seed, call Big Earth Landscape Supply. We have everything you need.