Many of us have enjoyed rather mild temperatures right through the holidays, but may experience some harsher weather over the next couple of months. What will these temperature changes do to our lawns and other managed turf areas? To this point I am optimistic that the turf had, or has, a good chance of going dormant before extremely severe temperatures do much permanent damage. Surely some above ground plant tissue will be lost, but roots and rhizomes or stolons will remain alive and healthy.
Where the danger of winter kill is most critical is later (early spring) after we get a nice warming trend for a couple of weeks and the turf breaks dormancy and begins to green-up followed by some severe low temperatures.
Focus on plans to eliminate poor drainage areas, new landscaping, etc. and think about the benefits this cold may bring in regards to insect, disease, and weed control. If you do experience times of frozen turf it would be best to avoid any excessive traffic on it until the turf thaws.
Published January 10, 2005
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org