How a Warm Winter Affects Lawn Care
Certain areas of the country are experiencing warmer than usual winter weather right now. After you’ve “put your lawn to bed” what does this mean for lawn care?
The biggest difference you’ll see from warmer winter weather and lawn care is that you will need to water the lawn. If you’ve winterized the sprinkler system, this can present a problem. However, if you want you can just use a low-tech hose and moveable sprinkler to take care of the lawn (if it isn’t a large lawn) rather than risking re-activating your sprinkler system before all danger of frost has passed.
During the wintertime, the lawn isn’t dead. It’s dormant. Even southern lawns that turn brown during the winter are just resting. If there are extremely warm temperatures (70s and above for a week or more), the lawn will benefit from receiving at least ½ inch of water. If the lawn is brown and dormant, water it lightly once a week, but don’t mow it.
Lawns in cool season areas might require mowing. These lawns will grow happily in temperatures of 50-70 degrees, and you could find that your grass is getting taller and taller, even though it is January! These lawns should also be watered during times of warmer temperatures. If the grass starts growing, you’ll need to mow frequently enough to keep the grass from getting taller than about 3 inches. If the grass is long during the winter, it can flop over, trap moisture, and you’ll end up with fungal diseases.
Warmer weather during the winter can also lead to disease problems. Brown patch affects cool-season lawn grasses during humid periods when the temperature is between 60-70 degrees. Large patch is a fungal disease that behaves similarly on warm-season lawns. You can try specifically labeled fungicides for control, but that does not always work. If you have these problems, it is also worth testing your soil pH and adding lime if the pH is lower than 6.0.
Most lawn care when winters are warms involves just keeping an eye on the lawn and making sure that it doesn’t go without any water for more than a couple of weeks.