While much of the country has a different understanding of the coldest season of the year, winter is here in Central Florida! It might be a nice change of pace to break out your long-sleeve shirts and ditch the sandals for a while, but your lawn may not be as happy about winter hanging around for a while. Cold temperatures, dry air and less sunlight are just a few factors that can majorly affect your Central Florida lawn this season.
The good news is that it’s not too late to revive your lawn before the winter is over! In this blog post, we’re covering the special care your Central Florida lawn needs in winter, how often you should water and fertilize, how to deal with winter weeds and insects, and how to prepare your lawn for an overnight freeze.
Central Florida Lawns Really Do Need Special Care During Winter
How different does your winter lawn care need to be in the Sunshine State? Isn’t it warm enough throughout the year for your lawn to survive some chilly temperatures? Unfortunately, treating your lawn in the winter the same as you do in the warmer months can cause long-term problems in terms of its health and appearance. So, winterizing your Florida lawn really is important.
Your grass naturally slows down its growth rate in the winter, which means it will need different levels of care, water and other nutrients to stay healthy. Turf colorants do exist to keep your grass looking vibrant on the surface level, but they only change the appearance of your lawn and don’t contribute to its long-term health. However, this isn’t to say that turf colorants can’t be used. Most are safe for the environment and can give an extra boost of color, but they are best used when in combination with other lawn care efforts — such as letting your grass grow a little taller than the summer to keep the roots better shielded from the cold.
How Often You Should Water and Fertilize
So, how do you get a green lawn during winter that will be the envy of your neighbors? It all starts with proper watering and fertilizing.
Your first inclination may be to water your lawn more due to the general lack of rain in Florida’s winter, but this inclination is actually leading you astray. Because your lawn grows slower in the winter, it doesn’t need as much water. The flip side to over-watering is under-watering, and both can make it hard for your lawn to thrive. Strive for a balance instead. At most, only irrigate your lawn one day a week in the winter, but once every one to two weeks on average should suffice. Not sure if your grass needs water? Check to see whether or not it springs back up after stepping on it! Flat grass means it’s time to water.
Similar to watering, you may look at a browning lawn and think that all it needs is some fertilizer to perk back up. And, similar to watering, this likely is not what your lawn needs right now. After October, it’s best to wait until the spring to fertilize your grass again. Fertilizing your lawn in the winter months will make it grow, but your lawn will also become more sensitive to cold. This means that any sudden cold snap can instantly kill your grass and ruin any lawn care progress you had been making up until that point. Only fertilize your Florida lawn in the winter under the guidance of a lawn care professional for your specific type of lawn grass.
Instead of fertilizing, consider overseeding your lawn. Overseeding is the practice of planting a temporary grass over your existing lawn. Grasses used for overseeding typically thrive better in cooler temperatures and naturally die off when temperatures warm back up. To overseed your lawn, rake it clean and remove anything that can get in the way. Then, mow your lawn and plant the new grass. Because the new grass will be freshly planted, you will need to water it quite often until it’s started growing. Overseeded grass will also require special fertilizing, so be sure to once again ask a lawn care pro for help.
Weeds, Insects and Other Issues
Central Florida lawns are still susceptible to damage from weeds, insects and other pests throughout the winter. In order to properly treat your lawn for these nuisances, you’ll need to first do your research.
Weeds suck all the water and nutrients away from grass in the winter. To effectively get rid of them, make sure you know what type of grass you have, the type of weed you’re targeting and if the weedkiller you’ve selected will actually work on your specific grass. To avoid weeds popping up in the first place, avoid over-watering your lawn.
Aside from weeds, pests and fungus are also threats to Florida grass in the winter. Insects such as army ants, mole crickets and chinch bugs will still be lurking. So, similar to weeds, first figure out the cause of the increase in insects, then followed by identifying the pests themselves and the right pesticides to use on your lawn. Fungi such as brown patch fungus can also be a huge pain in the winter. Seek out a professional to clear away any lawn fungus once and for all, as they can be particularly pervasive.
What About Freezes?
While cold snaps in Central Florida are much milder compared to further north, they can still dip into freezing temperatures that can damage your grass and other plants. If you’re properly taking care of your grass, it should pull through most cold snaps. Other lawn plants are another story, however. We previously discussed winter care in our blog post, “Preparing Your Plants for Florida’s Winter Season,” so here’s a quick recap of what to do when freezing temperatures hit:
- Prepare by keeping tropical plants to the south and east of your home or fence to protect against cold fronts from the north and west.
- Water your plants before any nights with expected freezing or near-freezing temperatures.
- Cover your plants on very cold nights with well-insulated frost cloth or thick blankets/quilts — never plastic.
After a cold snap, follow these tips:
- Do not prune damaged plants until warmer temperatures return in order to preserve the healthy parts of the plant with insulation.
- Do not fertilize damaged plants, as this will cause growth.
- Check if plants are alive by gently scratching the stem. If the color is green under the surface, the plant is still healthy, while any other color could mean your plant has died.
Central Florida Lawn Services in Every Season
Daniel’s Lawn Service & Pressure Washing is here to provide expert Florida lawn services — and gardening services, too! We are Central Florida lawn care and landscaping experts who know the ins and outs of grasses, plants, pests and how to treat all of it in every season. If your lawn needs some lawn care first-aid this winter, give us a call at 321-282-9731! We’ll have your lawn looking as vibrant and green as the spring in no time.