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How Temperature Fluctuations Affect Southern Turf

Winter Kill & Cold Injury in Knoxville, TN

In the south, cold injury and winter kill are cause for concern throughout the winter months. After a cool winter, homeowners often realize that their grassroots have been damaged or killed. Depending on your grass type and variety, your lawn may be at higher risk for winter kill.


Bermuda Grass & Temperature Fluctuations

The extent of damage due to temperature fluctuations will vary from year to year. Predicting cold injury and winter kill in Bermuda lawns can be difficult, as it isn’t solely reliant on temperature. Other factors such as soil moisture and snow cover can impact the way that temperature fluctuations affect your turf.

Seasons with moist soil and cold temperatures will reduce the extent of cold injury to your lawn. This is because the water in the soil holds heat better than dry soil, protecting the roots from further stress. If your soil is very dry during times of cold, there is an increased potential for injury as these conditions can dry-freeze plants and roots. The longer that cold and dry temperatures persist, the more likely your lawn is to experience cold injury and winter kill.

While some might assume that snow coverage would increase damage to your lawn. Snow coverage actually helps insulate the turf, protecting it from extreme temperature fluctuations and high winds.


Centipede Grass & Temperature Fluctuations

Centipede grass is a warm-season grass that is popular along the southern coastal regions of the U.S. In recent years, this grass variety is being grown further north which causes some issues as it is very susceptible to winter damage.

In areas with cool temperatures and occasional snow coverage, this grass may not recover well in the spring. Centipede grass doesn’t go dormant like Bermuda and frequent temperature fluctuations in the winter can send the grass into shock. If there are extended periods under 20 degrees, turf can be greatly affected by winter kill. While some tolerant varieties have been introduced, drastic changes in temperature are not ideal for this grass type.

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