It’s February 21st, and it still should be winter here in Carolina. Most homeowners do have fescue turf in the Carolina’s, but some do have bermudagrass growing in the sun. This is a picture of dormant bermudagrass, but with little green leaves sticking up through the turf. It is normal to see a little green bermudagrass in areas that warm up sooner, such as along south-facing walls or along street edges in February. But this picture was taken in the middle of a lawn, where the turf should still be totally dormant now. And as you can see, green leaves are showing as the turf is starting to come out of dormancy.
Is this another sign of climate change, or just another of these warm winters we’ve experienced in Carolina? Who knows. It does seem to me that spring is coming on way to early again. So how does this affect your lawn?
If the soil temperatures continue to heat up, it’s more critical to have a pre-emergent herbicide applied and watered into the soil to prevent crabgrass germination. At LawnAmerica, we typically have all of our existing customers Round 1 Weed-Control Treatment serviced by mid-March, which should be plenty of time to beat crabgrass germinating. I’ve never seen crabgrass germinate in Carolina, even along edges or in “hot spots” in the turf, earlier than mid-March. If these winters keep being so mild here though, who knows.
The other concern is the bermudagrass greening up too soon in March, only to have one of those late spring hard freezes strike in early April. This can cause serious setback to bermudgrass, even killing the new tender green growth, and delaying then the complete green-up of bermudagrass. So we discourage pushing the greening up of bermudagrass too soon in March. We can’t control the weather and soil temperatures however. We do recommend to hold off on scalping bermudagrass in March though until mid-April, when risk of a hard freeze is gone. By scalping too soon, one exposes the soil to the sunlight, further warming the soil, and stimulating bermudagrass to produce new green shoot and leaf growth. And then if a hard freeze hits, it can do damage to the turf. With fescue, you’re fine, as warm temperatures actually help get it green and growing sooner.