Most Mississippians have enjoyed rather mild temperatures through the holidays. Harsher weather is likely over the next couple of months, however.
What will these temperature changes do to our lawns and other managed turf areas? To this point I am optimistic that the turf has or will have 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.
The danger of winter kill is most critical later early spring after we get a nice warming trend for a couple of weeks. The turf breaks dormancy and begins to green-up and is followed by some severe low temperatures.
I would focus my attentions now more on plans to eliminate poor drainage areas, new landscaping, collecting soil samples for analysis, 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 3, 2012
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