Wow! We actually got some rain last weekend ! That’s really good news for the Tulsa area, but unless it continues on a regular basis, our lawns and landscapes are going to keep suffering. A small portion of Oklahoma is experiencing “Severe” drought , while the majority of it is in “Extreme” or “Exceptional” drought. Exceptional drought is the worst drought condition you can have. The U.S. Drought Monitor website has a map that’s updated weekly, making it easy to see what we’re up against. It’s not good.
We understand nobody wants to drag out the hose in the winter to water flowers and shrubs and grass. But we strongly recommend watering anything you can water. The fescue needs it, the pansies need it, the trees and shrubs need it. Even the roots of your dormant Bermuda need it! Not only does your yard need water year-round, water also provides insulation against cold temperatures for your plants and grass. Our dryness wouldn’t be nearly as big an issue had we not had drought conditions for 2 years now. The plants can only take so much before they just croak! (I lost a huge dawn redwood last year due to drought and heat.)
What else is there to do when it comes to lawn care in the winter?
Keep leaves off your fescue. Fescue doesn’t look so hot right now, with the cold snaps we’ve been having. But it’s actively soaking up sunlight and making food for itself which will keep it going through the summer when the leaves are back on the trees and it’s in the shade again, and the temperatures are soaring. Fescue is heat-intolerant, not sun-intolerant, which is why we plant it in the shade here in the Tulsa area. If fescue is covered in leaves right now, it can’t get sunlight, it can’t make food for itself, and it will suffer when the heat comes. If you can’t pick them up, blow them off. And don’t mow over the leaves and mulch them into your fescue. It’s fine to do that on the bermuda grass, but the fescue needs sunlight! And if your fescue perks up, don’t mow it short – it needs all the leaf surface it can get right now for photosythesis.
Spray difficult grassy weeds in your dormant bermuda grass with RoundUp or another product containing glyphosate. BEWARE: you can only use glyphosate in dormant bermuda grass – DO NOT spray it in fescue. And you can only use glyphosate in dormant bermuda grass if it’s really really dormant. Check out the grass down at the base, near the soil. It should be brown all the way down. We’ve seen some cases where the bermuda has been sheltered, like under a massive pile of leaves, and it’s still a little green. If you see ANY green, don’t spray glyphosate on it. Glyphosate will kill almost anything that is actively growing, including your grass.
But if you have fescue clumps or other green grasses in your brown and dormant bermuda, this is a great time to treat them. If you’re a GreenGrass customer, we will be taking care of this for you when we do your first application.
When should you put down a crabgrass pre-emergent? We start putting down the first of two crabgrass pre-emergent applications as soon as possible in January. Luckily, we have a large window to get this done, because we’re usually hampered by bad weather. We can’t spray the applications in rain, snow, freezing temperatures or high winds. Note: If you are doing your own crabgrass pre-emergent, you should probably put it down in March, or according to label directions – crabgrass can sprout when soil temperatures reach the mid-50 degrees. Obviously soil temperatures vary by location and weather variations. The idea is to get it down BEFORE the crabgrass starts to sprout. Over-the-counter products are different than the ones licensed applicators apply.
Feed the birds. Migrating birds may have a hard time finding food this time of year, and they need nutrition. Bird seed and suet cakes aren’t that expensive, and you can find them at your local home and garden store, grocery store or discount store (like Wal-Mart.) The birds will certainly appreciate your efforts, and you might see some unusual species! Water is also an issue, so a bird bath or any shallow container with water in it will attract all kinds of birds.
Look at seed and plant catalogues, and think about things you’d like to do outside this coming year. I don’t know about you, but I MISS my garden and green things and flowers. If you do, too, there are plenty of online catalogues (who will happily send you a real one if you’d rather) and lots of ideas like this Backyard Ideas board on Pinterest.
BloomIQ is also a great website to cruise around on. You can pick the qualities or colors or sun requirements you’re looking for in a plant, and it will show you choices for your specific area by hardiness zone or zip code!