There’s more than one way to ensure your lawn stays green throughout the winter months. The most effective ways to keep your lawn green in winter are:
- Overseeding with a cool-season grass in fall
- Removing leaves and debris from your yard
- Applying fall fertilizer
- Lawn aeration
- Establishing a winter watering schedule
- Using grass-friendly de-icers
- Applying turf colorant
By using one or more of these methods on a lawn that is not exposed to extreme snow and ice conditions, you can keep your grass green year-round.
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7 Best Methods for a Green Lawn
If your lawn is planted with warm-season grass, such as Bermuda Grass (Couch Grass), Centipede, Zoysia, or St. Augustine (Buffalo Turf) then it will begin to turn brown as soon as temperatures dip below 55℉ (13℃). Because most regions where these grasses are planted don’t experience deep snow or long freezes, it’s entirely possible to keep your lawn green year-round. Here’s how.
Overseeding your warm-season grass lawn with cold-resistant grass is a simple and effective way to maintain a green lawn throughout the colder months. As your warm-season grass goes dormant in colder temperatures, the cool-season grass you seeded in fall flourishes. This cool-season grass will then go dormant in warmer temperatures, just as your heat-loving grasses roar back to life.
Winter Ryegrass is often the number one choice for overseeding. To properly overseed a warm-season grass lawn, do the following:
- Overseed with cool-season grass seed in fall, once nighttime temperatures begin to dip below 65℉ (18℃).
- Follow proper guidelines for when to water after you overseed.
- Refrain from mowing until new grass reaches a height of 4 inches (10 cm).
Instead of a lawn full of dormant, brown grass, you’ll see green growth all winter. Cool-season grasses love cool temperatures and grow fastest and thickest when seeded in fall.
Get Rid of Leaves
Fallen leaves and other debris can choke off sunlight to your grass, as well as introduce harmful moisture and mold. This can result in unhealthy grass and dead spots on your lawn.
In order to keep your lawn grass green through the winter months, remain diligent in fall. Rake or mulch leaves quickly. Do not allow them to pile up for more than a few days, especially wet leaves.
One lawn care tip that can save time and return nutrients to your lawn is to mow your fallen leaves, mulching them where they fall. Mow over fallen leaves repeatedly, until they are chopped finely. These pieces will decompose quickly and feed your grass.
Fertilize Your Lawn
Fall is considered by most experts to be the best time to fertilize your lawn. Not only will it prepare your grass for next spring, but it will also keep your lawn in good condition through winter.
Choose a high-nitrogen slow-release fertilizer. Nitrogen not only drives grass blade growth, but it also speeds up the decomposition of any mulched leaves or grass clippings in your yard.
Even if you’ve missed the window for fall fertilization, studies show that winter fertilization can help ensure a healthy lawn. By fertilizing just before a frost or freeze, you feed roots throughout the cold months, resulting in green grass through the winter.
Summer heat often bakes moisture out of the ground, compacting the earth and making it difficult for grasses to develop strong roots and draw nutrients from the ground. Aerating your lawn decompacts your soil, resulting in improved fall and winter grass growth and green coloration.
Rent a plug or core aerator from your local hardware store and aerate in late fall or early winter, when the ground is not frozen. This will loosen soil, allowing for better root growth, and allowing water and nutrients to infiltrate the ground and feed your grass.
Continue to Water
If you want to keep your grass green through winter, it’s essential to make sure your lawn receives adequate water. Winter lawns cannot simply be left to their own devices. Winter drought can turn grass brown quickly.
That said, most grasses require less water in winter than in summer. This is due to more natural precipitation, and because cooler temperatures cause water to evaporate more slowly. Cut your watering schedule in half. Try watering deeply once per week instead of twice per week. If this isn’t enough, and the grass begins to yellow or brown, slowly increase watering frequency.
Use Lawn-Safe De-Icers
Salt is a grass killer. If you regularly de-ice your steps, driveway, or footpaths, runoff from de-icing can enter your yard and kill the grass there. If you have dead spots in the grass along paved areas, this is often the reason.
A calcium chloride de-icer is the best bet for a high-quality deicer that will also not harm your grass. Use it to prevent winter grass death.
Use Turf Colorant
Turf colorant, also known as grass paint, artificially colors dormant grass green without harming your yard. If all-natural remedies have failed and you’re faced with a brown winter yard, this is a surefire option to deliver green winter grass.
Good turf colorant can cover a large area of the yard inexpensively. Use it on an entire yard in winter, or on problem areas to color brown grass green. Simply apply with a pump or backpack sprayer. Since brown grass is dormant and not photosynthesizing, the turf colorant won’t harm the grass. Just mow in spring, and allow new, naturally green grass, to come up in its place.
How to Keep Grass Green in Winter in Australia
In most regions of Australia, winters remain warm enough that warm-season grasses do not enter dormancy. The best action to take to keep grass green through the Australian winter is to perform the following tasks in fall:
- Apply high-nitrogen fertilizer
- Set a winter watering schedule
If you do live in a region where your grass goes dormant in winter, overseed with a cool-season grass. Couch Grass in particular does very well when it is mowed very low (2.5 cm) in fall and overseeded with Ryegrass or another cold-loving variety.
How to Keep Grass Green in Winter in South Africa
Due to mild South African winters, maintaining a green lawn year-round is dependent on 3 things:
- Proper fertilization
- Adequate water
- Maintaining soil quality
Rid your lawn of any fall leaves and debris, apply high nitrogen fertilizer, and make sure your lawn receives enough water. It’s common to reduce watering too quickly or too drastically in winter.
Because temperatures remain relatively mild, you shouldn’t need to resort to overseeding to keep a South African lawn green throughout the year.
Can Grass be Green in Winter?
As long as it’s not subjected to long periods of freezing temperatures and is not buried under snow, lawns can be kept green throughout the winter.
In regions where winter temperatures go below 55℉ (13℃), plan to overseed your warm-season lawn with cold-hardy grass seed in fall. Furthermore, use grass-safe de-icers in winter to keep salt runoff from killing your lawn.
In areas where temperatures do not routinely get low enough to require overseeding, keep your lawn clear of leaves, fertilize in fall, aerate the compacted ground, and maintain an adequate watering schedule. Just remember that if all else fails, you can apply a turf colorant to your dormant grass that will keep it green all winter without harming your yard.