Wintertime means a more relaxed lawn care regimen than summer and spring. In the winter, grass either grows slowly or lies dormant. Overly zealous lawn care in cold weather can harm rather than help a lawn. Attention to local climate conditions and the growing season of the lawn is important in planning a lawn care calendar. Different areas of the country can have different temperature cycles which affect grasses' growing seasons.
After the final fall fertilization and during the colder months of October to early February, stave off weeds and weather damage by treating grass with basic care only when it needs it. Growing season for warm season grasses starts earlier in the south than it does in colder northern areas and mountainous regions. Carefully observing weather conditions and active growing seasons for grass in your climate can help determine the best time for winter lawn care.
Winter care for grass differs depending on the type of grass and when grass tends to grow the most. In some areas, cool season grasses become active as early as late January. Popular types of warm season grasses include St. Augustine grass, Bermuda grass and Zoysia grasses. Common cool season grasses include Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass and Tall fescue.
Combat winter annual weeds by applying pre-emergent herbicide in the first few weeks of fall to keep weeds like Peppergrass and Henbit from gaining ground. Look for an herbicide labeled for your grass type to ensure that it is a safe herbicide for your lawn. Carefully read and follow all manufacturer instructions and safety guidelines when handling this poison. Failure to properly apply herbicide can damage grass.
Winter Lawn Watering
Water grass in the winter only if it needs it. In areas that receive a blanket of snow or moderate winter wetness, watering may not be necessary. In areas that remain cold and dry during the winter, occasional deep watering may be necessary if the ground becomes obviously dry.
A healthy lawn starts with choosing grasses which will live in spite of the weather extremes of the local environment. If weather sees several frosts during the winter, cold sensitive grasses will not survive without insulation. Winter ryegrass is a particularly cold tolerant variety of cool season grass and will survive freezes that can permanently damage warm season grasses like St. Augustine.
Avoid excessively mowing a lawn in the winter. Mowing a lawn extra short when the weather gets cold removes insulating grass length that can help protect the grass from dying off due to chilly weather. Types of grass which need to be cropped short to prevent thatch should be cut short early in their active growth seasons, not while they are dormant.