After the recent polar freeze that captured most of the Mid-Atlantic, many people are looking forward to spring approaching. During the cold bitter months of the winter there are many concerns pertaining to turf and landscaping. However, not many people consider that the wet and cold weather can actually be good for the plants and grass. While certain warm weather grass, such as Bermudagrass may suffer during the cold season, they can still get back on track when the warm weather approaches.
How the Cold Affects Turf
Winter weather in Virginia is incredibly unpredictable. How the winter progresses greatly determines how you should care for your landscaping. Factors that should be considered vary from the amount of rainfall and snow accumulation, to how drastic the temperature changes have been. Many grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and Fescues have an easier time withstanding the colder temperatures, while many warm weather turfgrasses are more susceptible to winterkill.
When winter has been particularly cold, as it has been this year, one of the big concerns is winterkill. This is especially true for Bermudagrass, which has a hard time holding up against the extreme cold. There is hope with healthy Bermudagrass with strong roots and proper nutrition because it is more likely to survive a chilly winter. Having the proper cold treatment done on Bermudagrass is a determining factor when it comes to winter survival. Another factor to consider is if your greens had snow coverage during the winter because it can provide an insulated layer that protects the grass from the cold. However, with Bermudagrass no matter how healthy the grass is, there is a larger potential for winterkill in high traffic areas.
To treat winterkill, replanting may be necessary. If your greens are only experiencing partial winterkill, the healthy grass can help promote quicker regrowth. This should get your greens back in great shape in no time.
Cold Treatment for Turfgrass
After a long cold winter, it will be time to get your greens back to its’ optimal state. Hopefully, you started the cold season off right by using a cold treatment that included using a nutrient rich fertilizer to help the grass thrive through the long winter months. Using a cold treatment that is tailored to the needs of the type of soil you have and the types of grass you are growing will make springtime maintenance much easier.
Fertilization after the cold is one of the best ways to get your greens back to their former state. It is important that proper testing is done to see what nutrients were lost over the course of the winter. By understanding what the soil lacks you can create a fertilizer treatment that will be best for your grass. For instance, turfgrass needs plenty of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus to help it thrive, so ensuring that your fertilizer is rich with these elements will give your turfgrass optimal growth.
Aeration is a common springtime practice that helps expose soil to the air. This process is helpful because it allow water and the nutrients move through the soil better. To find out if you would need aeration, a patch of grass is usually cut out and examined. If your greens have dense hard clay soil, thatch over one half-inch or very heavy foot traffic, you should consider an aerating treatment. Aeration is typically done twice a year, so doing it in the springtime to help grass recover from the winter is the norm.
Cold Weather Weed Control
While it is easy to believe that your greens are safe from weeds in the wintertime, there are in fact cold weather weeds such as broadleaves, sedges, and certain grasses that can infest your turf. Treating your winter weed problem will not only treat the current problem, but give you a head start for the spring. If it seems like the winter weeds are taking a longer time to die off, it is because the cold has slowed down the growing speed of the weeds, which inversely affects the time it will take for the weeds to die. Patience is the key with weed control in the cold weather and once it begins to warm up you should notice that weeds will begin to die off much faster.
Other Cold Weather Turf Considerations
Winter is only half way through and we have already seen arctic temperatures and heavy precipitation. While the cold can be detrimental to the survival of your greens, precipitation provides valuable moisture that it needs. With snowfall and coverage it is a concern in the springtime that turfgrass may experience mold growth. Luckily, mold growth can be easily treated with fungicides.
The cold weather can have a big impact on turf, but with proper cold weather treatment and a spring maintenance plan that will promote healthy growth your greens will be looking good as new.
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