When your turfgrass takes its yearly snooze each winter, you may think it’s time for a hard-earned break from mowing, watering, and constant lawn maintenance. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. When your grass starts to look brown in the winter months, it’s still alive and has simply gone dormant until temperatures start to rise again. During this time, your lawn still requires care in order to keep the grass alive. Without it, your turf can die and you’ll be left with the sizeable job of reseeding and nursing your lawn back to health come spring.
To ensure that your turfgrass stays healthy and hydrated during its wintertime nap, our winter lawn care experts at Acenitec have provided five tips for caring for your Oklahoma lawn this month to help it look its best come spring.
Tip 1: Water, Water, Water
The most important thing you can do for your lawn this time of year is to water it on a regular basis. Many people forget or don’t think they need to water their grass during the winter, but turfgrass is just as sensitive to the cold as we are. Oklahoma winters are typically cold and dry, creating the perfect conditions for your turf to freeze and die if it hasn’t been properly watered.
Both cool-season (fescue) and warm-season (Bermuda and zoysia) grasses need supplemental watering during cold, dry periods to keep them properly hydrated. However, too much or too little water can cause problems. Deeper but less frequent watering is better than shallow, frequent watering because this encourages your turf to develop deeper root systems—which help grasses stay healthy and survive the extra dry weather.
Aim to give your lawn at least one-half inch of water during dry periods of the winter. Keeping the top one to two inches of soil properly moist will protect your grass from drying out. It’s always best to water when temperatures are at least above 40 degrees so that the water doesn’t freeze to your grass. When temperatures start to rise again, you’ll most likely need to modify your watering schedule to allow for a good soak a couple times a weak.
Tip 2: Treat for Weeds
Want to keep pesky weeds at bay? January through mid-March is the optimal time to apply winter weed control treatments. Winter annual and perennial weeds are at their peak growing stage during the winter months while summer weed varieties are lying dormant, waiting to come back in full force in the spring.
To kill both weeds that have already popped up as well as prevent the ones lurking in the shadows, it’s important to apply both pre- and post-emergent weed control treatments in the winter. The pre-emergent herbicides will take out any weeds that have not yet sprouted, and the post-emergent herbicides will kill off any weeds already growing. It’s important to remember that both pre- and post-emergent herbicides must be thoroughly watered into the soil to ensure effectiveness. This is yet another reason to water, water, water in the winter.
If you’re not sure about your lawn’s weed control needs, we suggest leaving it to the professionals. Acenitec’s six-step lawn care program starts off the year with both pre- and post-emergent weed control treatments to help your lawn enter the new year protected and ready to fight whichever weeds Mother Nature throws at it.
Tip 3: Fertilize
It’s a good idea to fertilize your cool-season turfgrass in early winter to help replenish essential nutrients that can be lost during the hot summer months. Even though your grass is lying dormant, its roots are still growing and need nutrients to stay healthy. Fertilizers applied in winter will remain in the soil and feed roots all winter long.
Opt for a fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen, as it will help your grass grow lush and green when the weather warms up. We recommend fertilizing once during the winter with one pound of nitrogen-rich fertilizer per 300 square feet. This is a great way to give your lawn a head start in achieving the curb appeal that you’ve always desired.
Don’t want to do it yourself? Our six-step program includes fertilization of cool-season turfgrasses in February and March.
Tip 4: Keep it Clear of Debris
Debris left on your lawn throughout the winter months can lead to sporadic dead patches. It’s important to remove as much debris as possible including lawn furniture, toys, leaves, and pet feces so that they won’t prevent your hibernating grass from getting the water it needs. Make it a point to rake up dead leaves when they accumulate in your yard, rather than letting them wait until the weather warms in the spring. Your lawn will thank you.
If it snows, the added weight on top of debris can have adverse effects on an already weak lawn. Leaving your grass a bit taller on the last mowing of the season can help minimize this damage as well as damage from frozen grass.
Tip 5: Avoid Excessive Foot Traffic
It’s also a good idea to avoid excess traffic on your lawn during the winter. When grass is brown and short, it’s easy to forget that too much foot traffic can hurt it. Even though turf grasses are normally sturdy and resilient, too much wear and tear will make it hard for them to recover and worn walking paths may form.
Your lawn can easily become an appealing option over icy cement. To encourage guests from unnecessarily walking on your lawn, make sure that your sidewalks or driveways are kept clear of excess ice and snow in the winter.
What Happens When You Neglect Winter Lawn Care
If you don’t take care of your lawn in the winter, no amount of spring lawn maintenance can totally reverse the neglect. Without care, your turfgrass roots are more likely to die, resulting in a dead lawn that’s not only unappealing but unhealthy for your lawn. When this happens, reseeding and replanting of turf grass will be necessary and nursing your lawn back to full health will take time and money.
If you’re worried about your lawn this winter, let a professional lawn care specialist at Acenitec evaluate your lawn and assess its needs. Now is the perfect time to sign up for our six-step lawn care and weed control program that’ll keep your lawn healthy not only this winter but all year-round. Contact us today for a complimentary quote and inspection of your property and we’ll get working to give your lawn the help it needs.