Winter has arrived in Mississippi and our warm season lawns have now gone dormant. Foliar leaf expansion has ceased and we no longer need to mow each week. Depending on the turf species a drastic change in leaf color from green to some shade of brown has also occurred. Following a couple of hard killing frosts 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 heavily used lawns 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 winter dormant lawn, avoid treading on it when frozen.
Published December 1, 2008
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