The lovely and fresh smell of grass is soon gone with the onset of winter where cold icy winds and white snow tend to cover up the greenness of the lawn. This could prove disappointing to many homeowners who have spent much time and effort, much less cost, in tending their lawn through spring, autumn and summer.
Winter is considered a homeowner’s nightmare where the lush green lawns turn into muddy or soggy turfs. However, with the best efforts and diligence, homeowners or gardeners could maintain the lawn even in the winter to ensure that the greenness does not fade away quickly.
Lawn Maintenance in Winter
A good looking lawn or yard requires much effort where its grass must be frequently cut, fertilized and watered without excessiveness especially during winter. There are certain changes to the regular maintenance process in the winter which would alleviate gardening problems through careful processes.
Good lawn maintenance during winter involves understanding the type of winter expected and the types of grass a lawn is furnished with. These are two critical components in combating winter against the greenness of the lawn.
Winters could be cold and wet or they could be cold and dry depending on the location or continent. There are also wet and not-too-cold winters while dry and crisp cold winters are experienced on interior plateaus. Coastal regions may have more rainfall with the cold wind blowing during winter instead of icy dry winds.
A wide variety of grass is available for different types of lawns which grace a home at different parts of the earth. Many gardeners prefer:
- LM Berea
- Gulf Green
Homeowners may have their own special preferences of grass to line their lawns. It is best to identify the most suitable grass options for any residential lawn by checking out the market as there may be new options emerging based on progressive technologies. This is because of the different properties and characteristics found in different types of grass requiring different types of care and maintenance.
Some lawn greens enjoy the full sun while others prefer the shade for better growth and display.
1) The Kikuyu (Pennisetum Clandestinum)
The Kikuyu is a very popular choice of lawn grass in many South African homes. This is known as the local grass to grace residential lawns. The Kikuyu is very affordable compared to other types in the market with its fast growth.
Although its origin is from Kenya which is warmer, the Kikuyu adapts well with frequent watering and full sun. Hence, a cold winter could wipe it out completely with the proper care. It could grow really fast with a favorable short recovery time which makes it an ideal choice as lawn greens especially with heavy traffic.
This is the preferred lawn grass for most sports fields where their quick re-growth would grace the lawn or field quickly after heavy usage.
2) The Buffalo (Stenotaphrum Secundatum)
The Buffalo grass adapts much better in the shade than the Kikuyu. It may be more expensive but shaded gardens would look exquisite with the Buffalo grass gracing its premises.
This grass type grows slower which could prove to be advantageous to gardeners who do not need to mow the lawn so frequently. There is no self-reviving property for the Buffalo grass like the Kikuyu which could be a strong survivor in any harsh condition. The Buffalo grass requires more tender loving care and maintenance; hence, it cannot be neglected.
Regular watering is a must to enjoy its darker green beauty. The Buffalo grass shows off broader leaves with a harder texture compared to other varieties.
3) The LM Berea
The LM Berea is a lawn grass that has high shade tolerance to be very popular in Kwa-Zulu Natal and similar environments. It is loved for its soft texture although it does not respond favorably to high traffic. To appreciate the softness of LM Berea grass, it should maintain a certain length without being mowed too short.
4) The Bermuda (Cynodon Dactylon)
A Bermuda lawn is beautiful but requires full sun most of the time to retain its beauty. However, it is easy to care for as it does not require too much water unlike other lawn types. The Bermuda lawn grass is often used in combating soil erosion as it has strong roots that grow really deep into the soil.
Hence, this type of lawn grass could be mowed short as its deep roots could readily re-grow quickly. Moreover, high traffic is tolerated really well to survive for a long time. This grass type is excellent as a long-term lawn solution without requiring too much water. It grows best where winter is not too wet to become over-hydrated.
5) The Blackjack
The Blackjack grass is a special shoot of Bermuda lawn grass as its genetically modified component. Hence, it is not surprising that the Blackjack is more aesthetic with its graceful texture and color. It grows well without too much water with more or less the same characteristics as the Bermuda grass.
6) The Gulf Green (Cynodan Transvaalensis)
This grass is also known as the ‘Golf Green’ as it is commonly found on golf courses. The Gulf Green is known as an indigenous species which is the ideal grass type for manicured lawns preferred. It is excellent for wet environments even in the winter where its color is maintained and its soft texture is felt.
The Gulf Green loves water with a good response to high traffic by growing quickly to accommodate that. It is not favorable towards dryer interior regions during winter as it is frost-shy.
It is noted that most lawns tend to become semi-dormant in the winter with slower growth while losing a bit of their dark green color as if the grass is hibernating. Harsh winter conditions could damage the grass more readily with a greater difficulty in repair works unless the gardener is diligent with a proper maintenance through a good understanding of their needs.
As prevention is better than cure, it is advisable to take good care of lawns throughout the year regardless of the season so that they look their best even in harsh or unfavorable weather conditions.
A good understanding of the characteristics of the grass like slow growth in the winter due to its semi-dormancy nature would help the gardener consider apt ways to motivate growth and survival until spring comes along.
Preparations Prior to Winter
Gardeners must be diligent in preparing the lawn before winter comes. As summer winds down, the lawns require less mowing with slower growth rate. The grass naturally prepares itself for the cold winter months but gardener could add on in certain ways to keep the grass nurtured and strong to withstand winter.
If proper lawn care has been religiously exercised throughout the full growing season, there is little more effort required to ensure the survival of the lawn during winter. Special points of care prior to winter is the adjustment of watering the lawn as the condescending cool weather does not permit the lawn grass to absorb as much water as during summer.
However, lawn mowing should continue on a regular basis to encourage new greens to shoot out. The lawn must be kept in the best condition before winter kicks in to survive the cold weather.
Effective Lawn Care Practices
Although lawn mowing is necessary during winter, it should become less frequent. The mowing exercise is to keep the lawn well maintained with a clean look. The lawn grass is still growing even during winter albeit slower.
If mowing is discontinued during winter, there could be a build-up of thatch layer during the winter which makes the grass brown and scalped when spring comes on. This is an ugly sight to be endured until hard work encourages the green leaf to come forth again.
Although the lawn does not need much watering during winter, however, some soil types may drain away their underground water reserves which dry up the grass roots especially if there is not sufficient rain in the winter months.
Lawn grass can continue to look fresh and green if the survival conditions are optimal. However, problems may arise with the arrival of spring when the lawns could go into shock with the warmth to turn brown. Hence, it is good to monitor the water levels in the soil throughout winter to avoid spring effects.