To property owners who pride themselves on their lush lawn and garden, winter may seem like a well-deserved breather.
As cooler weather sets in, grasses require far less water than during the summer months. Water loss due to evaporation and transpiration decreases considerably, including the growth rate of grasses. In Florida, warm-season grasses such as St. Augustine or Bermuda go into a dormant stage during the cold months of the year, waiting for warmer temperatures to begin growing again.
But it’s still important to water your lawn correctly in winter to ensure it will return healthy and green in the spring. Often, homeowners are unaware that their irrigation system should be adjusted during the changing seasons, and failure to adjust for changes in temperature can lead to either over-watering or under-watering their lawns.
What Too Much or Too Little Water Can Do to Your Grass
A healthy lawn happens by ensuring it is a properly watered lawn. Giving your lawn more or less water than it needs will harm the long-term turf health. Here are some of the effects of over-watering and under-watering your lawn.
- The most detrimental effect of overwatering is the potential for fungus. Fungal lawn diseases can thoroughly compromise your turf, leaving patches of dead or dying grass on your lawn that will require additional lawn maintenance services.
- It drowns the grass’s roots. Grass plants do not need a large amount of water, as it forces oxygen, vital to plant growth, out of the soil. This eventually causes the roots of the sod to suffocate and die, leaving your lawn with a very shallow root system.
- It leads to weeds. Saturating your lawn with water also promotes the growth of certain types of weeds, and it often forces property owners into a vicious cycle as they try to apply a large amount of herbicides to control the excessive number of weeds caused by overwatering.
- It reduces the lawn’s overall stress tolerance. If your lawn develops a shallow root system, the grass is put under additional stress, making it more susceptible to insect damage and disease.
- It causes the grass to lose color. The health of the root system is the most important factor in determining the health and beauty of your lawn. Over-watering prevents fertilizers and nutrients from being absorbed by the roots, resulting in a lawn that loses color quickly.
- It slows down plant growth. A slowdown in grass growth is a fairly easy-to-spot sign that your lawn is not receiving enough water. If the plant experiences only a temporary decrease in water supply, it will continue to grow after a while.
- It causes a change in grass color. Although turf grasses are surprisingly resilient and can come back if given water, under-watering them for a long period will eventually cause them to change color (from darker green to brown and finally, gray) and die, leaving behind a bare spot that will require replanting.
- It makes it fragile and brittle. Under extended drought, the leaf blades become brittle and will break off easily. One way to test if your lawn is suffering from drought stress is to simply walk across your lawn: if footprints are still visible after half-hour or more, it’s a sign that grass blades have low water levels in their tissue, which prevents them from ‘springing’ back up.
How Much Water is Needed?
It’s important to remember that lawn care is a year-round process. A healthy lawn requires about one inch of water per week, including during Florida winter. An efficient irrigation system does not saturate the soil, wets only the root zone, and doesn’t allow water to pool up, or run off.
In terms of the amount of water applied each time to your lawn, watering in winter is not drastically different from watering in other seasons. Your lawn still requires sufficient water and nutrients to be able to sustain winter damage and come back vivid and green in spring. What changes is the frequency: during summer, your lawn may require watering 3+ times a week, whereas in the cold season, when temperatures are cooler and water doesn’t evaporate as quickly, watering your lawn once a week is normally sufficient.
A good way to know when it’s time to water is to simply keep an eye on your grass’s activity. Your grass will tell you when it needs to be watered by showing signs of drought stress or by changing its color. A simple watering schedule would be to apply about an inch of water when the leaf blades seem to be folded in half or if they take on a blue-gray tint rather than keeping their dark green color. The same amount of water should be reapplied when drought is noticeable again.
It’s important to know that not all parts of your lawn have the same irrigation requirements, and different soil conditions may also determine water requirements. Make sure to adjust your sprinkler system for the winter and as always, ask a professional lawn care company to help you create a lawn care plan that leaves your grass healthy and sustainable!
Maintaining a healthy, beautiful lawn all year long is a hard task for any homeowner, especially with all the pests living in Florida. That is why our team at Brock Lawn & Pest Control have professionally trained, licensed technicians and an exceptional program that will tend to your yard for the entire year. Our lawn program is designed with 6 timely applications to provide the proper balance of nutrients that your lawn needs. Having regularly scheduled lawn care will allow these nutrients to provide you with a strong, healthy growing lawn.
We work closely with our customers to develop personalized lawn fertilization & irrigation plans that ensure your lawn receives the nutrition it needs to grow during all seasons. We use a combination of high-quality liquid fertilizer and controlled-release lawn fertilizers (depending on your lawns need) that are designed to stimulate turf growth.
As a locally owned and operated lawn care company, we proudly serve Florida’s Gulf Coast and northern counties with offices in Panama City, Fort Walton and Panama City Beach. Take your lawn back and enjoy your yard again!
Have a lawn or pest emergency? We provide same day services! Contact our team today.