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Lawn Care Tips

How to Protect Grass When Cool Weather Hits Northwest Florida

Posted by Pete Blackman

Nov 8, 2017 1:52:08 PM

Freshly cut grassThe mild winters of Northwest Florida make it easy to slip into football season and holiday planning without realizing cool weather and unexpected cold snaps are on the way.

While your lawn doesn’t need to be prepped like regions that experience months of snow or freezing temperatures, cooler weather does affect the grass in the Pensacola area.

In fact, your lawn will go dormant like a hibernating bear for many months as cooler air approaches. 

When your lawn awakes from its winter slumber, you’ll want it to blossom so you can enjoy the spring season too. One of the best ways to bring lush and green grass back from winter dormancy is to protect it before cool weather hits. The following winter lawn care tips for Pensacola will help protect your grass as the seasons change.

Mow more precisely

There is a fine line between mowing too much and too little when cool weather approaches. On one hand, you need to keep your grass clean and groomed to prevent it from turning into a nesting ground for pests. However, mowing grass that has gone dormant for the winter can shock turf and cause damage.

To protect your grass before cold weather sets in, begin lowering the deck of your lawn mower to gradually cut your grass shorter. Aim to get the length of your grass blades between 2 and 3 inches as the weather gets cooler, which is typically around October in Northwest Florida. Consistent cutting will reduce the chance of grass being shocked by a last minute cut right before an unexpected cold snap.

If you regularly mow and keep your grass short before cold weather approaches, you’ll be more aware of it entering the dormant stage. Signs of dormancy include slower growth and blades beginning to turn brown depending on your turf. This typically happens around November in the Pensacola area and marks the time to stop mowing your grass. At this point, it’s time to take a break from mowing and spend that extra time enjoying pumpkin patches and fall festivities.

Fertilize before the first freeze

The healthiest lawns are fertilized on a schedule throughout the year. Whether or not you’ve been consistent year-round, fertilizing before cold weather sets in is a great way to protect your grass. Fertilizing in the fall helps replace nutrients likely depleted during the heat of Florida’s summer months. Once the weather turns cold, the soil will continue to absorb the fertilizer. It’s like giving your grass a slow release multi-vitamin to absorb for many months.

However, some fertilizer treatments include large amounts of nitrogen, which can have an adverse effect on grass if they are applied too often or in application volumes that are too high. If you notice brown patches on your grass, you might be faced with a battle against lawn fungus, which is important to address before the winter months.

Here is a complete list of soil treatments to consider before cold weather sets in.

Water with care

As temperatures drop, so should the frequency of watering your grass. Soil can typically retain more moisture in cooler weather without the hot summer sun absorbing it as quickly. Too much saturation can also encourage fungal growth, which make your lawn more at risk for Large Patch or other diseases.

Keep in mind that the first few months of fall are often prime time for tropical storms in Northwest, FL. While we don’t suggest waiting for one to arrive in lieu of watering your grass, we do recommend holding off on additional watering if the rainy season is higher than usual. You may not need to water much at all if the area receives a lot of rain leading up to the arrival of cooler weather.

For more tips on getting your Pensacola grass ready for cool weather and keeping it healthy throughout the year, check out our guide on Caring for Lawns in the Gulf Coast.

Lawn Master's Seasonal Lawn Maintenance Guide

Topics: Lawn Care Tips

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