As homeowners, landscape designers, or garden enthusiasts, we always strive to maintain a vibrant and healthy lawn throughout the year. However, achieving this goal can be quite a challenge, given the varied climate changes and transitions that different seasons bring along. Among the various types of grasses that adorn our lawns, warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda and Zoysia grass, are renowned for their ability to endure hot, dry climates. Yet, understanding their seasonal transitions is key to ensuring optimal growth and resilience.
Which grasses are Warm-Season
and which grasses are Cool-Season?
- St. Augustine
With the passage of each season, these warm-season grasses go through unique transitions that are essential to their growth and overall health. Let’s take a closer look at the journey warm-season grasses take from spring to winter.
Spring Awakening: Warm-Season Grasses Spring into Life
As we wave goodbye to the frosty winter, the warm-season grasses start transitioning from their dormant state. During spring, the temperatures rise, and the grass begins to green up. If done properly scalping your lawn can accelerate the green-up process , which involves mowing the grass down to half its normal height. This allows more sunlight to reach the base of the grass, stimulating growth.
After the initial scalping, apply a slow-release fertilizer rich in nitrogen to kick-start robust growth. While the warm spring temperatures make it tempting to get out and work in the yard, don’t feed warm season lawns until the grass fully greens-up. Wait until after April 15 when your lawn will be actively growing and able to absorb the nutrients.
Summer Strength: Warm-Season Grasses Flourish
As temperatures rise and daylight hours extend, warm-season grasses hit their peak growth. Their deep root systems are designed to exploit the warm soil temperatures and survive drought conditions. During the summer, the grasses should be watered deeply but infrequently, promoting the growth of deep roots.
It is crucial to maintain an appropriate mowing height, typically between 1-3 inches, depending on the specific type of grass. Taller grass shades the soil surface, helping to reduce water evaporation and suppress weed growth. A post-emergent herbicide can be applied if necessary to handle any persistent weed threats.
Autumn Adjustments: Preparing Warm-Season Grasses for Winter
When fall approaches, warm-season grasses start to slow down their growth and prepare for the dormancy of winter. This period is a good time to address any issues like soil compaction or thatch accumulation that could hinder the grass’s health in the coming seasons. Aeration can be performed to alleviate soil compaction and improve nutrient uptake, while dethatching can remove excessive organic debris from the lawn surface.
A late fall fertilizer application, usually a winterizer, can help strengthen the grass’s root system and store energy for the next spring. As fall transitions into winter, gradually lower the mowing height but avoid drastic scalping that could expose the grass to cold damage.
Winter Dormancy: Warm-Season Grasses Rest and Recharge
Winter marks the period of dormancy for warm-season grasses. The grass will lose its green color and turn brown, which is a natural process that helps the grass conserve energy during the colder months. Although water requirements decrease considerably during the winter, it’s important to ensure the lawn receives adequate moisture, especially in areas with drier winters.
Refrain from fertilizing the lawn during this period as it could encourage growth at a time when the grass should be dormant. Excessive foot traffic should be avoided to prevent damaging the grass crowns.
Warm-Season Grasses: Resilient Choice
Warm-season grasses are a resilient choice for hot climates, and their seasonal transitions are a testament to their adaptability and survival. By understanding these transitions and adjusting lawn care practices accordingly, we can ensure that these grasses flourish throughout the year.