How to Winterize Your Lawn


Applying fertilizer to winterize your lawn seems like a no-brainer. But what about in Florida, where snow and freezing temperatures are not usually a concern?

The answer is yes.

Even without wintry weather, preparing your lawn for the cold weather remains essential. However, the approach in winter lawn care for warm-season grasses, which flourish in the warm, humid climate in the region, differs from that of other grasses in colder regions.

Here's Why You Should Winterize Your Grass in Florida

While Florida rarely experiences freezing temperatures, the region does encounter shorter days, less intense light, and occasional temperature drops. These factors can result in slower-growing grass and sometimes lead your lawn into a dormant state.

Winterizing your lawn encompasses standard lawn care practices you would apply throughout the year—fertilizing, aerating, and watering. However, slight adjustments may be made to address temperature drops, with the ultimate goal of helping your lawn withstand the winter conditions, promoting resilience against pests and disease, and speeding up its recovery to restore it to its healthy, vibrant state come spring.


Winter Lawn Care Tips to Keep Your Yard Healthy Year-Round

The key months to start winterizing your lawn are late October and early November, making sure it is ready for the onset of the cool weather.

Mow Less Often and at a Taller Height

As the weather cools in Florida, the grass may grow slower. Although you can continue using your lawn mower, you'll want to adjust your schedule to align with the reduced growth. Additionally, consider adjusting your mower blades to cut the grass at a taller height. Taller grass provides cover for the grass roots, protecting them from the occasional temperature drops.

Aerate to Loosen Compacted Soil

Even in winter, it's essential to aerate your lawn to relieve soil compaction, which stunts grass growth and weakens the lawn. This process ensures it remains resilient against weeds and diseases and is ready to thrive in the warmer seasons. You can use a grass plug tool to double as an aerator and perforate the soil with small holes to allow air, water, and nutrients to penetrate the soil better and reach the roots. It's advisable to aerate in late fall to mid-winter, avoiding lower temperatures when the grass becomes dormant.

Fertilize to Prepare Lawn for Winter Dormancy

Apply your last winter fertilizer treatment between September and October, before the onset of the cooler weather. This strategic timing allows the grass to use the essential nutrients as energy reserves during the dormant period. Make sure not to fertilize too late, as this can force your grass to grow in the cold weather and make it cold-sensitive.

If you miss this window, refrain from fertilizing later. You should be fine waiting for the next season for the next treatment if you've kept up with your lawn care during the summer.

Keep Grass Clear of Debris and Avoid Foot Traffic

Fallen leaves can accumulate into dense, wet layers of debris that trap excess moisture, which not only can suffocate your lawn but also attract pests and diseases like root rot. To keep your lawn clean, clear the wet leaves and consider temporarily removing your furniture and spare logs for the season.

Avoiding foot traffic on the dormant grass during winter is also essential. While it can handle moderate traffic, it's prone to stress and compaction. Delay activities that involve heavy equipment until the warmer months when the grass is growing again to avoid causing unnecessary stress on your lawn.

Water Deeply But Less Often

During winter, your grass experiences slower growth and requires less water than in the warmer seasons. However, in Florida, where winters are generally mild and dry, watering your lawn 1-2 times a week is essential to maintain soil moisture.

You can adjust irrigation based on your lawn's health by looking for signs of dryness, such as footprints, wilting, or discoloration, and watering accordingly. The general rule is to supply one inch of water per session to encourage the root system to grow broader and deeper, promoting resilience, particularly during the cold weather.

Continue Weed and Disease Control

Battling weeds and diseases is an ongoing activity and is particularly essential when the grass is dormant and prone to these issues. Even with proper upkeep, weeds and diseases like the brown patch fungus can still emerge, threatening your lawn.

Address these concerns by manually removing weeds or applying post-emergent herbicides for effective weed control. Monitor your lawn simultaneously for signs of diseases like bare spots, patches of dead grass, or thinning areas, and treat them immediately using a fungicide targeted to the disease affecting your lawn.

READ: List of Common Weeds: How to Get Rid of Weeds in Your Lawn


Repair Damaged Lawn with SodPods Grass Plugs

Upholding proper lawn care is crucial, especially in the winter when the grass is at more risk for damage. Adequate measures, such as timely fertilization, mowing at an optimal height, aeration, and weed and disease control, contribute to the resilience of your lawn during the colder months. These practices not only help your lawn endure the harsh weather conditions but also provide a head start for lush, green growth when spring arrives.

While damage is inevitable this season, you can effectively repair thin areas and bare spots with grass plugs. Our SodPods grass plugs are small sod of mature grass with an established root system you can transplant into the damaged areas in your lawn. This approach helps restore your lawn's density and ensures a vibrant, healthy green grass carpet beyond winter.

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Jamie Tedder

Jamie surrently serve as Vice President on the board for Turfgrass Producers of Florida. He currently oversees the production of all grasses throughout all farms in Florida at Bethel Farms. He is actively working with top grass breeders, researchers, producers and end users from public and private institutions around the country to stay up to date on current industry developments. Being a University of Florida graduate, he has applied that knowledge to over 22 years of experience growing spectacular grass!

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