Managing St. Augustine Grass During Winter
Here are some tips for managing your St. Augustine grass during winter:
1. Will it recover from the holiday freeze? Absolutely! We saw all grass types quickly go fully dormant (turn brown) just after the freezing temps we received over the holidays. This is the natural process for our warm season turf types and helps to provide a natural defense for the plant over the winter months.
2. Keep at 3-4" during dormancy: With the warmer temps we experienced in early January (high 70s) we actually saw spots of green up in a lot of lawns. It is perfectly fine and beneficial to mow your lawn to keep things clean and in that 3-4" range. Mowing stimulates and encourages the natural cycle of the plant. If it's green and growing you should mow it every 2-3 weeks.
3. Fertilizer: If you got some form of a winterizer down in the fall, that extra boost of potassium will be helping your grass through winter. If not, there is no need to worry, but don't rush out to fertilize your grass right now. As we continue to cycle through cooler temps the grass stay mostly dormant and not absorb the nutrients you try to feed it right now. Wait for your starter fertilizer once we are into March and begin our spring warm up.
4. So what should you give your lawn right now? Now is the perfect time to focus weed prevention and the health of your soil. Pre-emergent weed control can be applied anytime during the winter. This will prevent summer weeds from germinating in the coming months. Just apply at the proper rates and intervals per the label on the product you use. You can also spray post-emergent weed control products to knock out winter weeds. Post-emergent should be paused until later in spring once we reach our transition out of dormancy in March/April.
In terms of soil health, now is an acceptable time to apply soil amendments like humics, carbons, and micro nutrients. Not absolutely necessary, but can provide a huge benefit during the growing season.
5. Water: You should NOT be watering your lawn right now. We are receiving more than enough rain and it's highly important that you do not have your turf sitting in water if you have low spots. We also encourage you to not water your beds unless we go an extended time without rain. Too much moisture in your beds can encourage winter weeds to take over your beds.
6. Leaves: Keep your turf areas free of leaves and debris. Too many leaves prevent sunlight and heat from getting to your soil level and can also suppress your turf leading to inconsistency in the way it comes out of dormancy this spring. Mulching leaves into the turf is perfectly fine. If you have too many to mulch then they should be collected and removed.
We work with all of our customers in the winter to customize their program for the specific needs of their property and are always available to offer advise or guidance.