By Chris Segraves, Operations Manager of the Tulsa Markets
Pop Quiz – What is the process that combines severe dryness with super cooled air? If you answered, “freeze drying,” then give yourself a pat on the back! While freeze drying is great for preserving food, it is not helpful for the landscape. We are once again facing severe drought in Oklahoma this winter. Combined with the stretches of intense artic blasts we’ve received, our landscapes are in quite the silent struggle right now. According to the drought maps, nearly 100% of our state is currently experiencing drought; that’s over eight million people! Drought not only affects people, but also plants and animals of all kind as well.
So what does this mean for your landscape? The trees, plants and turf alike are experiencing stress on their root systems which affect their ability to come out of dormancy. If they have been able to hold on this long, any landscape plants that were installed in the fall, or fescue that was over seeded, are surely at a standstill. Even your drought tolerant species such as Crepe Myrtle, Juniper, Zoysia, and Bermuda are likely to have a tough time this spring. Bermuda and Zoysia may take quite a long time to recover. Juniper may be turning a pale off green color and Crepe Myrtles may come out of dormancy with nothing more than tufts of sprouts at the base. Just as we saw last year, winter kill, as it is known in the industry, is highly likely again this year. In some cases, it could be even worse because this is a consecutive year. The cumulative affects have everyone guessing and waiting to see what is in store in the coming months.
What can a person do to give their landscape its best chances of surviving winter kill? It is a good practice to leave warm season grasses, “tall in fall,” for some increased protection against cold winters. It also helps to reduce evaporation of its life sustaining water. The best defense is to water on some of the days that have temperatures above freezing to lessen their burden during dry spells. However, with this year’s drought combined with the severe cold temperature snaps, its protection can only extend so far. As frustrating as it is, the main ingredients for getting through this season are time and patience. As always, you can rest assured that LawnAmerica will be at the ready to give your landscape everything it needs to recover as we move into spring. Thank you for letting us serve you. We will see you soon!