In most parts of the country, it’s been getting cold for a while now. What better time to talk about how to best take care of Bermuda grass this winter? It won’t be long before we’re all knee deep in fertilizer and seed catalogs, making our annual pilgrimage to our local garden centers looking for good deals on high quality grass seed and fertilizers – but wait! I would like to suggest that you refrain from spending your hard earned money just yet!
Mulching is the best way to protect your lawn from the harsh winters since bermuda grass is a summer weather grass. It helps to keep the temperature of your lawn lower during the winter months. The best time to mulch is from October to April. The more you cover, the warmer your lawn will be.
“It’s always a good idea to winterize your lawn at this point in the fall because you want to wait for cooler temperatures”
“The best results will be achieved when you’re putting up the storm windows and preparing your lawn for winter at the same time.”
said Dr. Tom DeBerg, AgriLife Extension horticulturist.
Fertilizing this late in the season will do little good, as most all of it will leach through to the subsoil and be wasted. The cold winter temperatures will prevent your grass from growing much during the winter months, so any fertilizer applied now won’t have time to take effect before our spring growth spurt. Your best bet is to wait until early spring before fertilizing again, giving the soil time to warm up enough for microbial activity to resume at an accelerated pace.
This does not mean that you shouldn’t care for your lawn or treat any damage done by harsh weather over the course of the fall/winter months. Fall is a great time to inspect your lawn for any potential problems – discoloration, disease, insects, etc.
The exception to the “do nothing” rule is when there are bare spots in your lawn or areas that have been damaged by foot or pet traffic over the course of the year, as these are prime targets for disease, heat and cold stress, and insect damage. Repairing these problem areas can be easily accomplished by repairing any damage to the turf (pulling tufts, sprigging with new runners) or sodding with fresh grass plugs.
Checklist For Bermuda grass Lawn This Winter
Here’s a short checklist on some easy winter lawn maintenance:
- Remove dead leaves from gutters and downspouts before they clog up.
- Sweep away debris such as matted grass, leaves and twigs from hard areas like sidewalks and driveways.
- Use either a leaf blower or push broom to sweep away leaves from lawn areas.
- Remove debris, piles of leaves and other yard waste from the area.
- Apply lime if soil test shows calcium levels are too low – follow directions on bag for amounts needed.
- Apply fertilizer recommended by your County Extension Office in early spring when temperatures warm up.
- The final step is to apply an inch of composted bark mulch to the surface of your lawn. This will protect the roots from cold below ground, protecting them throughout the winter months.
In short, mulch helps to keep grass healthy and will allow it to recover quickly in the spring. Winterizing your lawn does not mean that you have to give up all lawn care. If you have any problems with weeds, disease or insects, or if you have any questions about what to do with Bermuda grass this winter, please contact your AgriLife Extension Agent or our County Extension Office