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Give your Southern lawn the best chance at fighting off winterkill.
To protect themselves from unfavorable temps, Bermudagrass, Zoysia, St. Augustine, and other warm-season grass types naturally go dormant for winter, and the first frost is usually no big deal—it's nature's clue the time has come. However, if one chilly night turns into several days of super-cold weather, winterkill can happen (it's all in the name) and your lawn may need help rebooting once spring rolls around.
Here's what to know and how to handle it if freezing temps swoop in and send your lawn into a wintry spiral.
Before we get into winterkill, you should know about psychedelic grass. No, it's not an obscure cash crop. It's the tie-dye-like pattern of brown-and-green grass that can appear on your lawn after the first frost. It's normal. Your turf is just starting to go dormant in different spots at different times. The good news is, it's also a good indicator that, come warmer weather, your grass will perk right back up with your spring lawn care routine.
Winterkill, on the other hand, is what can happen when prolonged cold weather joins that first frost in the South. Warm-season grass needs time to acclimate to the cold, so if it's suddenly freezing and stays that way, the blades' protective crown tissue could end up damaged, causing your grass to die over the winter.
You can't control the weather, but you can help your lawn endure it. The key here is knowing the average first-frost date for your area, so you can get prepared before winter's wilder elements come knocking. Here are some tips for increasing your lawn's chance of survival.
Be Smart About Mowing
Be Even Smarter about Feeding
The frustrating part for any lawn geek is that you can't really know if winterkill happened until spring temps return. Rest assured, though, that most warm-season grasses will recover from polar conditions with a little help—especially if they've been well-cared-for leading up to this point. Here's what to do if your lawn doesn't green up once warm weather emerges.
They say there's no such thing as bad weather, just a lack of preparation for it. A surprise stint of freezing temps may seem like an exception, but with these handy tips, you've got your Southern lawn covered no matter what winter brings with it.