What to do for Your Lawn in January

PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA

By Rick Orr 01/01/2022
Image
Large home with nice green lawn
Your lawn doesn't need much in January it is semi-dormant - Just "keep it tall and keep it wet" and it will look great.

January: Your Lawn has Slowed Down and Needs to Rest

During the month of January your lawn is semi-dormant (think hibernating). Due to the slower metabolism and less photosynthesis, it is easily damaged by cold weather and drought, and it will be late spring before it recovers – if at all. The two best things you can do for your lawn in January is “Keep it Tall and Keep it Wet”.

Why a 4” Canopy is Mandatory

 St Augustine, Zoysia, and Bermuda grasses are tropical plants that are damaged by cold weather. A tall canopy of 4” or higher acts like a warm insulating blanket protecting the stems and roots from cold weather. A short canopy exposes stems and roots to the cold, causing permanent damage or even death.

Your Lawn Is Already Stressed by Cold Short Days

Shorter days and colder temps of the winter slow down photosynthesis. You can increase photosynthesis by keeping the lawn tall. A tall canopy increases leaf area to photosynthesize, producing more energy for sustaining and maintaining the basic needs of the semi-dormant plant. A short canopy reduces photosynthesis, starving the plant of basic life-sustaining energy.

Water is Basic

Without water, your lawn dies – this is true any time of the year. It does not become hardier or grow deeper roots if you are stingy with water – it dies. You can improve your lawn simply by keeping it wet all winter long.

While it is true that grass uses less water in the winter, sandy soils dry out at the same rate all year long.  A wet sandy soil will become a dry sandy soil in 72 hours every season of the year. Therefore, to keep a lawn healthy, regardless of the time of the year, a lawn must be watered every 72 hours by rain or irrigation.

Myth: Mowing Lower means Less Mowing

Your lawn will grow at the same rate regardless of mowing height. In the winter a lawn grows about 1” per week. After a couple of weeks, the lawn will look shaggy and needs mowing to look better. This is true for a 2” tall lawn or a 4” tall lawn – it still requires the same amount of mowing. Therefore, if a tall lawn is better lawn, keep the canopy at 4” all year long.

Rick Orr Owner-Operator APL Pest Control/Creator of ILOVETURF.COM
Rick
Orr
APL Pest Control

Rick Orr is the creator of Iloveturf.com, Owner/Operator of APL Pest Control, and a graduate of VA Tech in Agronomy (Turf Ecology).  

Since 1980, Rick worked in the green industry, mostly with golf courses, resorts, and large communities. Rick has obtained certifications for arboriculture, landscape contractor, irrigation contractor, and taught Environmental Horticulture at St Petersburg College.  

Rick lives and works in Pinellas County.

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Speaking Engagements - Does it seem like you are only hearing one side of water restrictions, fertilizer bans, plant restrictions, and many other urban landscape hot topics? Rick Orr is available for speaking engagements for your HOA, Community or Professional Association, or Garden Club about a variety of subjects. Feel free to contact Rick Orr at [email protected] for more information.