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Damaged Lawns Struggle to Recover
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Severe freezes in February robbed Mississippi yards of most of their spring color. Even as temperatures warm, grasses are showing the extent of the damage.
"Extension county agents are being bombarded by questions about replanting lawns damaged by the harsh, late winter freezes," said Dr. David Nagel, extension horticulturist at Mississippi State University.
"The past three months have been especially hard on the turf grasses in Mississippi lawns," Nagel said. "None of these grasses adapt well to cold weather since they originated in semi-tropical parts of the world."
The warm weeks followed by rapid cooling in February and March were especially hard on centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass.
Nagel said Bermudagrass and zoysiagrass have extensive underground stems called rhizomes which are protected from the worst of the cold.
Centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass have stems above the ground, called stolons. The stolons of all four of the warm season grasses were damaged by low temperatures, but bermudagrass and zoysiagrass have the rhizomes to start new growth, while centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass do not.
Nagel said new leaves come from these stems when soil temperatures increase.
"Soil temperatures are just now high enough to start growth, and the grasses really do best when night temperatures are above 60 degrees," Nagel said.
"Centipedegrass lawns will be the last to fully recover since their growth rate is much slower than the other lawns," Nagel said. "If you can find one green grass blade per square foot of lawn, the grass will eventually return."