Monday, October 30, 2017

Avoid Winter Kill

Horticulture Hotline 10/30/17
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Several years have gone by since we have had a major winter kill event in the low country. Many people have moved to this area that are not use to dealing with centipede and other warm-season grasses. Where they lived, they had cool-season grasses like Fescue, Rye, and Blue grass. If our temperatures are warm then drop below freezing very rapidly, our lawns, especially centipede (however can affect all lawns depending on the conditions) can suffer winter kill.

Yes, it is time to winterize your landscape especially this year with all the rain and wind trauma. SeaHume should be used alone or with the 00-00-25, depending on the results from your soil test. Look for a product with a 00 for the first number (nitrogen). A 00-00-25 with sulfate of potash and minors would be great. If you do not need the potash, consider just the SeaHume, a wonderful combination of seaweed and humic acid. Keeping the landscape fed and hydrated helps fend off the cold weather damage – just like if the landscape was a mountain climber climbing Everest.

SeaHume will help grass, trees, shrubs, and flowers throughout the winter. SeaHume will help mitigate salt damage. The seaweed part of SeaHume has over 60 minor nutrients, carbohydrates, amino acids, gibberellins, auxins, cytokynins, anti-oxidants and other bio stimulants. The humic acid is also full of bio stimulants that help make nutrients that are in the soil available to the plant, help with soil structure, grow roots, and feed the microorganisms in the soil.

Trees grow most of their feeder roots over the winter. With the movement of the root ball during the storm and the flooding, many of these roots were lost. SeaHume will help re-establish these feeder roots over the winter.

Beware of the national ad campaigns talking about winterizing fertilizers for turf. These products are usually formulated for cool season grasses (rye, fescue). I saw one over the weekend that was a 22-00-14. Not exactly what we want to put on our yard in mid-October in the Lowcountry. Just ask Clemson University.

Have you ever had winter kill? Now is the time to prepare your grass for the wide variations in temperatures we have. If you had winter kill in the past, you need to be sure to correct low and poorly drained areas, reduce thatch in the yard, increase air movement in low areas, keep your lawn hydrated and feed (with the right food for the winter).

Mow your grass lower than normal (centipede 1.0 to 1.5 inches, St. Augustine 2.5 to 3.0 inches). By mowing your grass lower, you will increase the air movement around the crown of the plant, so cold air will not settle at the crown of the plant and damage the grass. In Florida helicopters fly low over citrus groves that are in valleys to get the cold air out. Tall grass or thatch will insulate the crown of the plant like a goose down jacket, keeping the cold air near the crown where it can cause winter kill. Centipede lawns usually get winter kill the worst if temperatures plummet quickly.

Fine blade Zoysia grass can grow very dense and get thatch. De-thatching, verticutting, using Bio Grounds Keeper, and regular topdressing should be part of your maintenance schedule.  


Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.