We finally experienced our first hard freeze of the fall on November 19th, which is really late in the season for us here in Oklahoma. So you can finally put your mower to bed for the season! Fescue may need a trim into late fall though, especially to help remove and chop up leaves on the turf. This is a good way to remove leaves, rather than raking and hauling away. If your leaves are heavy and too much to mulch, then try to take them to a local place such as Gem Dirt, which composts those leaves into their soil mixes.
We are still very dry in Oklahoma, which puts our turf under stress, making it even more susceptible to winterkill. Winter-kill simply means that part or all of the turfgrass plant died during the winter season. Winter-kill can occur from either acute or extended exposure to low temperatures. It can also be due to complications from the interaction of low temperatures and any number of stressing factors such as insufficient or excessive soil moisture, shade, excessive traffic, soil compaction, drought, low mowing height, insufficient or excessive nutrients, or any number of other predisposing stressful physical, chemical, or biological factors.
Even during the mildest of winters in Oklahoma, which have been plentiful lately, several node and internode segments of the aerial shoot system of bermudagrsss are killed by freezing temperatures. Sunlight then bleaches the dead tissue to a straw colored appearance. Following these events and while temperatures remain too low for sustained regrowth, people refer to the bermudagrass as “being dormant.” During the 2009/2010 winter, many strands of bermudagrass had most or all of their above ground aerial shoot system killed back to or slightly below the soil surface. In the most severe case, shallow rhizomes (below ground horizontal stems) may have been killed. Each turfgrass stand is unique due to the cultivars or varieties being used as well as the soils, exposure and management programs.
At this point in the season, we recommend keeping the turf mowed high with the final mowing of the season, and to keep turf from drying out too much with an irrigation every week. These practices will help decrease the chances for winter damage to your bermudagrass.