How can I help my Gainesville lawn in winter?
During the cooler winter months in Gainesville, St Augustine and Zoysia turf grass lawns are dormant – which means basically resting for the upcoming spring season. The soil microbes are still busy too, doing what soil microbes do – composting – just at a slower pace than normal.
Many are fooled into thinking the soil and grass doesn’t need fertilizer application and water in the winter just – the St Augustine turf and the soil microbes are living, growing and need food and water to stay healthy. Without an active and healthy soil microbe population in winter, the turf grass will lag in the spring, losing valuable time during it's prime growing season.
5 THINGS TO DO IN THE WINTER FOR ST AUGUSTINE LAWNS
1. Water Your Lawn Correctly
2. Apply Lawn Nutrients
3. Mow as High as the Mower will Go
4. Weed Control
5. Be Patient
Master these five activities during the winter and you’ll be rewarded with a healthy lawn this spring and well into the summer months.
WATER YOUR LAWN CORRECTLY
One persistent myth is that St Augustine needs less water in the winter. This is false. Although the St Augustine turf is semi-dormant, it is still living and growing and needs food and water to do so. The soil is teeming with soil microbes that need a moist soil to compost organic matter into plant food. Let the lawn dry out and you kill the soil microbes, starve the turf and turn your lawn into a weed patch.
So remember, the number one determining factor for the health of your St Augustine turf and soil microbes is water – and about 90% of the water your lawn requires will come from irrigation. Therefore, the irrigation system must run, cover the entire lawn and put out enough water to “fill” the soil. If it doesn’t – then fix and repair your Gainesville sprinkler system until it does.
How Much Water?
Your lawn needs just as much water in winter as the rest of the year. It just doesn't evaporate as fast as it does in warm seasons - so that allows your sprinklers to run less often to achieve the same amount of water in the soil. On average we recommend watering 1 time per week – even in the winter. However, we do not recommened cutting back your zone run times. Turn it back to 2x a week in late February/early March when it begins to get warmer.
FEED YOUR GAINESVILLE GRASS
The main goal of feeding a lawn is not feeding the turf, it is for feeding the soil microbes so that they can compost. Nitrogen, potassium, sulphur, and iron are not readily available in our sandy soils and need to be replenished on a regular basis. – even in the winter.
The Master's winter feeding program focuses on potassium and micronutrients - especially sulfur and iron – to help the roots strengthen as the lawn is dormant. One good lawn application of a fertilizer with a good micronutrient package is sufficient until spring.
MOW AS HIGH AS THE MOWER WILL GO
Winter is not the time to mow low – mowing low does more harm than good in the winter. When you mow low it opens up the canopy, exposing the soil and tender roots and stems to drying sun and winter winds. A dry soil and sun parched stems and roots does not make for a healthy lawn. These winter months are a perfect time to skip a few mowings, allowing the canopy to become even higher and reduce wear and tear. The taller truf also shades the soil to keep winter weeds from germinating in your lawn.
WEED CONTROL IS EFFECTIVE AND SAFER
Winter is the best time for weed control. Focus on the persistent perennial weeds like Dollar Weed, sedges and Day Flower. There are other annual weeds that pop up - but they will melt away with the rising temperatures - so focus on the perennials. I highly suggest a quality pre-emergent weed control program to help play defense against the incoming spring/summer weeds, too.
Be careful with the Weed-N-Feed formulations at the big box stores, as they may have high nitrogen content which could cause a lawn damage in cold temperatures. Read the label and carefully look up information. We get calls from about 1 person a month who has burned their lawn from trying to use Home Depot or Lowe's products and mixed them the wrong way or at the incorrect time, so be sure to use a trusted weed control program.
This dormant period is natural and very important for the health of the turf – let it do its thing. Pushing the St Augustine turf grass out of dormancy with excess nitrogen will create a false signal to the turf that spring has sprung and cause havoc with your lawn. Don't be tempted to make the lawn green with a parlor trick of high nitrogen fertilizer. Be wise, be patient and let the grass progress from dormant to spring in a healthy way.
WORD ABOUT LAWN SPRAYING
The Master's Lawn Spraying combines year round lawn fertilizations with insect and weed control so you don’t have to experiment with different brands and formulations. We know what to do and when to do it – that is what makes lawn spraying such a good service at a good price. If you are overwhelmed by the massive amount of choices for fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides, you may want to consider hiring a professional. Fill out the contact form at the top of the page or give us a call at (352) 378-LAWN (378-5296).