Many Saint Augustine lawns can tend to go brown or straw colored over the winter months. This browning off can make the lawn unsightly for many homeowners, who then seek to find a solution to this problem of lawn discoloration. So what is winter brown off in lawns and why does it occur?
There are three main reasons for lawn discoloration happening over winter, the first reason is the type of Saint Augustine grass being grown, some Saint Augustine grass types are more prone to going brown over the winter months. So choosing a good quality turf type is the first priority to avoid winter brown off of Saint Augustine grass lawns. Next is the fact that as our climate gets cooler where we live, then the more likely it is for Saint Augustine to go brown over the winter time. And the last factor in considering why Saint Augustine lawns brown off in winter time is correct applications of lawn fertilizer done at the right times of year.
Now considering if we already have a St Augustine lawn established and growing on our property, and we can't do anything about the weather where we live, then we really should pay careful attention to our last option in keeping our lawn green in winter for as long as possible through winter.
Why Saint Augustine Lawns Go Brown In Winter
Not all lawns will go brown in winter, and there can be many factors which can attribute to a lawn either going brown or staying green over the winter time. But the main reason is that lawns naturally become dormant or semi dormant over winter, and in doing so - some will naturally lose their green color and brown off.
Healthy Lawns Less Likely To Lose Winter Color
Going past this initial reason for loss of lawn color in winter, is the health of the lawn itself. A lawn in good health prior to the onset of winter will maintain its color better throughout the winter, as it is able to more successfully defend itself from the effects of the cold weather.
The key here for most St Augustine lawn owners who want a greener healthier lawn in winter, is to ensure the lawn is in the best health possible prior to winter arriving.
While there isn't a lot that can be done in Fall to bring a lawn to good health before winter, we can pay careful attention to our fertilization program at this time of the year.
St Augustine Grass Fertilization Before Winter Arrives
While it’s always a great idea to have a good year round lawn fertilization program, in the case of maintaining winter color, the practice becomes even more important.
An application of a good quality winter fertilizer before winter, will do wonders to keep the lawn in a better state of health throughout the winter than anything else we can do, as well as ensuring the quickest post winter green up once Spring arrives.
We have two options in applying winter fertilizers to our St Augustine grass.
The first option involves applying a standard winter fertilizer before winter, and then again in the middle of winter. Winter fertilizers are blended a little differently to normal fertilizers, and contain less nutrients for growth, and instead contain nutrients aimed more at leaf greenness and lawn health, including Iron.
The second option involves using a high quality slow release lawn fertilizer once before winter, which will then last throughout the entire winter, with the next application of slow release fertilizer being due when Spring first arrives.
Winter Growth Rates
Applying fertilizer before winter will have almost no impact on growth rates for St Augustine grass in winter because the lawn is already in semi dormancy at this time of the year, and is naturally growing very slowly.
Even if growth rates did improve from the application of lawn fertilizer at these times, then this would actually be a very good thing. The overall growth rate in winter would still be minor, but would improve that the lawn would repair more readily from any damage at this time of year, as well as this same growth putting forward new shoots of green leaf, which is exactly what we're aiming for.
Quicker Lawn Green Up In Spring
While there can never be any guarantee of keeping a St Augustine lawn green throughout winter, we can do our very best to lessen the worst of the browning off which may occur. Because even if we do fertilize as recommended here, cold weather, the variety of St Augustine grass being grown, or even poor lawn health earlier in the year can all still contribute to winter lawn health with little that many of us can do to prevent it.
However, fertilization in preparation for winter can often help lessen the impact of cold weather on our lawns.
On top of this is the added benefit that a lawn which has been fertilized as suggested in this article, will green up in Spring and return to full health much faster than would otherwise be the case if this fertilization program were not undertaken at all.