Why Lawns Turn Brown?
During the hot, dry summer months when rainfall is often scarce, your lawn will turn brown naturally. The grass is ‘going to sleep’ or going dormant. Just like a bear in winter, the grass plant shuts down, minimizing any growth activity until conditions improve.
As fall temperatures drop and go below freezing, grass also slows down and, once again, depending on the particular variety in the lawn, begins to go dormant. The grass is going through a natural process of protecting itself from damage during the cold, windy winter months, until Spring arrives.
While warm-season turfgrasses, like Bermudagrass and St. Augustine, can turn brown quickly as temperatures drop, most northern grasses, Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescues, are less temperature sensitive and may stay green well into winter. In fact, the brown color you see in the dead of winter is due as much to dehydration from cold winter winds as from the effects of temperature alone.
So, like it or not, brown turf, the result of natural dormancy, maybe the single most helpful factor in protecting and potentially saving your lawn from permanent damage in tough environmental conditions.
To speed green-up in the spring [March in the north], you may want to mow off the dried out brown top growth. Early mowing, before the lawn has begun to grow rapidly, will remove the shadowing effect of long, winter dried blades and allow sunlight to penetrate to the crowns of grass plants. Once sunlight and warmth interact with the plant, you will see an almost immediate surge of green growth. The only negatives that will result, are equally quick weed growth and the need to begin mowing earlier than some would prefer. To learn more about grass dormancy from the Lawn Institue, click here.
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