Our Grass and Trees Respond to Winter
Dormant Grass? What's that?
Bermuda grass, your days are numbered. Within a matter of weeks the summer turf we love in the desert Southwest will turn from green to light brown and go dormant for the winter. The grass in most of Glendale's parks are Bermuda grass, so light brown in winter is normal.
Dormant Bermuda grass may look dead, but it’s actually going through a natural, healthy process. In fact, some experts suggest that allowing the dormant grass to go brown without overseeding can lead to a healthier Bermuda lawn the following summer.
So what should we be doing with our dormant turf in the parks? You may think “nothing.” As much as you may think so, we can’t ignore our winter Bermuda grass completely. Here are a few Bermuda lawn care tips for the winter:
- Keep the lawn care schedule fairly normal in October–mow, fertilize, water. As the month progresses, we will cut back on the irrigation schedule gradually until we are watering about once a week.
- Once November hits, we limit watering to a ½ cycle, once each week through March. We mow once a month during this time and we do not fertilize.
- Limit activity on the Bermuda grass while it’s dormant. The grass is weak and bare spots can develop easily.
- We closely watch the development of weeds to ensure they don’t get out of control in the midst of any patchy spots.
- We take the opportunity to eradicate dormant Bermuda from any flower beds or landscape areas. Pulling it is much easier when it’s dormant during the colder months.
- We conserve water to ensure we have plenty of H2O when the Bermuda grass wakes up in April.
So don’t worry if the Bermuda grass goes brown, it has just gone to sleep for the winter.
What Are Our Trees Doing?
Trees are survivalists. For trees in the winter, dormancy is the solution to conserving energy and surviving. What is dormancy? It is a period when the tree's physical life cycle is temporarily stopped to help the tree minimize metabolic activity.
The life of a tree occurs in cycles. In early spring, as days begin to get longer and the weather is warmer, the tree is pulling all of its energy together for growth. As the weather continues to warm and summer arrives, the tree begins to grow rapidly taking advantage of the long days and optimum sunlight. For most trees, growth ceases by late summer (early August). That is, the tree does not produce any more leaves after this time. From this point until fall, the objective of the tree is to prepare for winter. During fall, a tree stores food and energy for when it is needed for next spring's growth.
The shorter days, cooler temperatures and reduction in sunlight stimulates dormancy in the tree. During dormancy a tree may look dead but it is far from it. It is only waiting for spring. Changing the conditions around the tree may alter the time of year that the tree goes into dormancy. Heavy watering and fertilizing in fall (September) may stimulate the tree to continue growing, but this is not recommended. Any new growth produced at this time of year will have little chance to prepare itself for winter, and will most likely die from winterkill.
As winter finally sets in, the tree will then become fully dormant. Trees still continue to slowly grow roots, respire and take in water and nutrients throughout the winter. Caring for trees before it goes into dormancy such as pruning it in late fall will help form and strengthen the trees as well as encourage new growth in the spring. Pruning also minimizes storm damage.
We are in a region that receives little rain, so we provide maintenance watering throughout the winter. They do not need as much, but, nonetheless, will need moisture.
Thanks for taking time to look us up. Have a wonderful fall/winter season.