With the recent blast of cold weather and temperatures dipping well below freezing, winter has definitely arrived in Mississippi. Our warm season turf species lawns have now gone dormant.
We no longer need to mow as foliar leaf expansion has ceased. Depending on the turf species a drastic change in leaf color from green to some shade of brown has also occurred. Most leaf tissue and even many above ground stolons (stems) die and begin to slowly break down through the winter months. This subtle wearing of the turf canopy may not even be noticed on lawns having a thick canopy and not used much during the winter. However, for lawns heavily used it is important to restrict traffic when the turf is frozen or covered with frost as the fracturing of the ice crystals can literally sever the leaf blades of the turf and cause a much more rapid breakdown of the dead leaf tissue.
Early tee-times for golfers are often delayed until the frost is melted from the fairways and greens even on healthy cool season turf for this reason. Therefore, to keep a good turf canopy on your lawn throughout the winter avoid treading on it when frozen.
Published December 13, 2010
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