Reducing Wear of Winter Dormant Turf (11-28-11)
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Winter weather has arrived in much of Mississippi. The most noticeable changes in our warm-season turf species lawns are that the turf is now going dormant, foliar leaf expansion has ceased, and we no longer need to mow each week. Depending on the turf species there has also been a drastic change in leaf color from green to some shade of brown.
What we may not notice is the subtle wearing and thinning of the turf canopy over the next couple of months. Following a couple of hard “killing” frosts, most leaf tissue and even many above ground stolons (stems) die and slowly break down through the winter months, particularly if there is much traffic over the lawn even after the frost has melted.
When the turf is still covered with frost, or frozen, it is even more important to restrict lawn traffic as the fracturing of the ice crystals as we walk can literally sever the leaf blades of the turf and cause a much more rapid breakdown of the dead leaf tissue. This is why early tee-times are often delayed for golfers until the frost is melted from the fairways and greens even on healthy cool-season turf. Therefore, to help reduce wear and maintain a thick turf canopy on your lawn throughout the winter months, avoid treading as much as possible on it when frozen.
Published November 28, 2011
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