Winter weather has arrived in much of Mississippi and the most noticeable change in our lawns is that the turf is now going dormant. What does the heavy frost that we had this week doing to our warm-season lawns?
Foliar leaf expansion has ceased and we no longer need to mow. 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 of the turf canopy over the next couple of months. Following a couple 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, 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. Golfers understand that this is why early tee-times are often delayed until the frost is melted from the fairways and greens even on healthy cool season turf. In order to keep a good turf canopy of winter dormant turf avoid treading on your frosty frozen lawn.
Published November 26, 2007
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