Clients often ask us whether they need to winterize their lawn. After all, in Florida plants grow year round. While there are some freezes, it’s not like the grass will be covered in snow.
You may hear different opinions on whether you need to winterize your Florida lawn, but the better question is, “What does winterizing your Florida lawn involve?”
Why is lawn winterization important in Northwest Florida?
Lawn winterization is important to help the grass through the colder winter season, so it will make it to spring without diseases or damage. While the grass is dormant in winter, it will be less green (and sometimes turns brown).
You want it to have a healthy root system and soil structure so that in spring, the grass returns lush and green, and pest-free.
What does the winterization process entail?
Many think that winterization is just about fertilizing your lawn. It’s not (though we’ll talk about fertilization later). Sometimes herbicides are applied in fall, to prevent lawn pest development over the winter months. Since the lawn’s water needs decrease in winter, irrigation timers should reflect that change. The mowing schedule should be adjusted as well.
Since your grass won’t be growing much, you won’t need the grass cut as often. For clients who don’t want their warm season lawns turning brown in winter (and really, who likes brown lawns?), you can overseed with a cool season grass that provides some winter color, with the temporary grass dying out in the spring as the regular grass returns to life.
Last, we recommend that clients winterize their irrigation system as well.
Does my Florida lawn need fall fertilization?
With cold season grass (i.e. for those who don’t live in Florida!), fertilization is really important to replenish the potassium left out of spring and summer fertilizations. These grasses have their peak growing season in the fall, so the nutrients like potassium are especially important.
In Northwest Florida, of course, we plant warm weather grasses, like Centipedegrass, Zosya and St. Augustine. While in winter these grasses turn dormant, slowing their growth, we still recommend a fertilization program tailored to the grass type.
When should winterization ideally be done in the Florida Panhandle?
Grass fertilizations should be finished by early October, as you don’t want to be feeding the grass while it stops growing for the season. Overseeding your lawn in Northwest Florida is typically done in October and November.
And any irrigation winterization should be finished before the weather is cold enough to freeze the pipes. As the grasses’ water needs change in fall, it’s time to adjust the watering timers as well.
What happens if you don’t winterize your lawn?
If you don’t winterize your lawn, you could be endangering the health of your grass come spring. Not applying fertilizer in fall means your grass may not have the nutrients needed to carry it through the colder months. A late application can actually harm the grass.
Without winterizing your irrigation system, you could risk rupturing a pipe that’s not properly protected. And by not adjusting your watering schedule, you risk giving the grass too much water, making it soggy and waterlogged.
What are the benefits of hiring a lawn care professional to winterize your lawn?
A professional will know best when to complete all the winterization steps necessary for your lawn. In terms of fertilizing, it’s important to know how much fertilizer to use and the best fertilizer content.
Centipedegrass, for example, doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer, and giving it too much nitrogen will not only change its color, but decrease cold tolerance and can cause maintenance problems in the future. A professional knows the different grass types and best way to care for them.
At GreenEarth, our specialists have state licenses and certifications to apply lawn chemicals and pesticides, something best left to professionals. We also know how much water lawns need each season, and can adjust your watering needs so your lawn gets the proper amount of irrigation in the winter months.
GreenEarth Is Your Year-Round Landscape Specialist
At GreenEarth, we know what winter lawn care our region demands. There’s a reason our clients’ lawns look lush, green and healthy. With winter coming, it’s not too late to see what we can do to help maintain your landscaping and keep it healthy and attractive.
If you’d like a consultation or want to know what we can do to help you winterize your lawn, give us a call at our Panama City Beach office at (850) 236-1959, or call our Santa Rosa Beach office at (850) 267-0010 to set up an appointment. You can also fill out the online form on our website to schedule a consultation.