Prepping your lawn for winter

I believe we thoroughly hashed through the budget process for most possible scenarios for homeowners associations and condominiums so let’s move on to other, more enlightening things.  For instance, how to prepare your lawn for the coming winter.

Here in northeast Florida, we have our share of freezes and cold snaps that sometimes cause damage to the lawn we so painstakingly tended to last summer.  Let’s go over some tips offered by the University of Florida IFAS Extension office .

St. Augustine grass in north Florida goes dormant in the late fall, early winter, turning it to the brown, dead looking color.  If you want a green lawn year round, consider over seeding with rye grass.  Rye grass provides a green lush lawn over your existing St. Augustine grass and will actually protect your lawn should we experience freezing temperatures.

Here’s how to start

  • Rake your lawn free of debris, leaves, grass clippings, limbs.
  • Dethatch your lawn to get rid of the clippings from the summer, exposing the soil beneath.
  • Daytime temperatures should be consistently in the mid 70’s.
  • Apply the seed, a broadcast spreader works best.
  • Water 1-2 times per day for 10-20 minutes until seeds germinate, continue light watering (1/4” inch) daily for 2-3 more weeks.
  • Once grass is established water as needed to prevent wilting.

Once your winter lawn is established it will continue to need mowing.  Set your mower deck 1-2” above your permanent St. Augustine so you do not damage the dormant grass. To maintain a neat appearance, your lawn will have to mowed every week to ten days through the winter because the rye grass does continue to grow.  Fertilize at your discretion.

As we approach mid February and early March, allow the rye grass to die back and begin prepping your St. Augustine for its renewal.  We’ll cover that in February when it’s hot on everyone’s mind.

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