Is it a fungal problem… pet damage… or winter kill? After the unpredictable weather this winter and unusually chilly spring, it’s not hard to believe that our weather has affected our agriculture. Homeowners and professional landscapers are finding that established turfgrasses are taking longer to green up this spring. Other lawn care professionals are fighting brown patches in normally vivid green grasses. Throught the region, bermuda and zoysia grasses may need additional lawn care to grow healthy this summer.
What is Winter Kill?
In the South, we’re usually blessed with mild winters that rarely hurt our landscapes. During rare seasons of snow, ice, and erratic temperatures, we’re left unprepared to protect our grass from the elements. After months of unpredictable temperatures, a few winter snows, and a cool spring, many turgrasses are failing to green-up due to winter kill.
Typical Causes of Winter Kill Include:
- Dehydration (a.k.a cold desiccation) – Cold air is drier and with soils freezing near the root systems, plants cannot keep up with the water evaporating from exposed leaves. Small patches may fill in or heal on their own. But larger areas will likely need to be resodded.
- Low temperatures – When temperatures drop suddenly after a warmer snap, the water in the growing crown of turfgrass close to the ground can freeze, causing irreversible damage. Overseeding or resodding is often necessary.
- Snow mold – Heavy snow, or snow that lingers in shady areas, can promote the growth of several different mold species. The area may look pink, gray, or encrusted once the snows melt. These areas usually resolve themselves as temperatures warm and air flow increases.
Grasses Affected This Year
The cold winter and cool spring have caused longer dormancy in many turfgrasses. Most bermudagrass is growing normally, but some Bermuda lawns will be more susceptible to shade this year.
Zoysia sod naturally grows more slowly than many Georgia turfgrasses, but due to the winter’s chill, it’s taking longer to revive this year. Pay special attention to soil temperature and lawn shade.
Fescue lawns will be less affected due to their increases cold hardiness.
For more information about winter kill and spring sod care, contact NG Turf today.