Winter Preparations, Florida Style

Florida isn’t really known for extreme cold weather. However, temperatures can drop, and there are things we can do to keep our lawns looking their best throughout any season. As the temperatures cool our grass will start to go into a dormant stage, which results in slower growth and reduced water requirements.  During dormant periods your grass will focus its resources on the keeping the root system strong, not on shoots growing above ground.  Luckily for those of us in South Florida, 40-degree temperatures are few and far between. Maintenance routines likely will not change much until January or February and will be short lived. For those of you who live a little farther north, you might notice dormancy earlier and can expect it to last weeks or months longer.

To protect your lawn from the cold, check these tips off your “to-do” list!

  • Cleanliness is next to Godliness: Be sure to clear leaves and debris from the lawn. These can create brown spots, and can bring unwanted seeds/plant matter that lead to weeds into your lawn.
  • Aerate to Save a Life: Heavy Florida rains year-round compact soil. An aerationinvolves perforating the soil with small holes to allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate the grass This helps the roots grow deeply and produce a stronger, more vigorous lawn.
  • Topdressin’ Like a Fool: For our Northern Floridians, avoid the harsh dryness that is associated with cooler weather by applying a topdressing. This helps protect your lawn from dry weather and reduces thatch buildup. Also use topdressing to protect overseeding, but be weary of weeds!
  • Weeds, Weeds and Weeds, Oh My!: Weeds tend to flare up in soil that is exposed to direct sunlight and abundance of water. Keeping your grass at the correct height for its cultivar and water about 1” of water per week is great way to avoid weeds naturally.
  • What’s the Deal with Overseeding?: Lastly, to help maintain the green we love to see, consider overseeding. This is the practice of applying grass seed to an existing lawn. In Florida, we want to apply a temporary cool weather seed to our permanent warm weather lawns.  Ryegrass is the most popular choice in Florida because it will stay green in cooler weather, but will die out as we reach spring, allowing your natural lawn cultivar to resume dominance.  Wait until the temps are averaging low to mid 70’s before you start seeding! Learn more about overseeding at the University of Florida’s IFAS blog: http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/archive/hot_topics/lawn_and_garden/overseeding_winter_lawns.shtml

The Florida winter is short lived, you’ll be back to your normal lawn routines in a few short months, or weeks depending on Mother Nature! 😉

Take care,
Joanna