The winter of 2013/2014 in Oklahoma is turning out to be one of the coldest in recent memory. And now comes the snow, which makes our job in applying early spring pre-emergent a lot tougher. At least crabgrass will not be germinating anytime soon in Tulsa, as the soil temperatures are way down there.
But that is also becoming a concern. Winterkill of bermudagrass is also something we’ve not seen a lot of in ulsa over the past 20 years or so. Sure, we’ve had some minor and spotty winterkill during a few winters, but nothing major like the winter and spring of 1991. About 50% of the bermudagrass in Tulsa actually died that winter, leaving homeowners and turfgrass managers to patiently wait for the turf to recover and re-sod in many cases. Bermudagrass is a warm-season grass, and we are in the transition zone here in Tulsa, on the northern edge of where bermudagrass can grow. So when extreme winter weather happens, turf will be affected.
While we’ve not experienced extreme sub-zero cold, which will damage bermudagrass, the longevity of these cold temperatures is what concerns me. This week looks to be below freezing all week. We’ve had very few of those nice, warm January days which heat up the soil. So unless we have a shift in our weather patterns, I’m betting on at least some damage to turf in Tulsa and Northeast Oklahoma.
The snow cover we have now will help some, as that insulates the crown and root system of the turf somewhat. The snow will also help provide some much needed soil moisture, if it ever melts that is! It is very dry, so later in February, I recommend watering your lawn and landscape. I know I have kicked on my irrigation system manually this winter about four times now. This will help prevent possible damage to turf and landscape plants.
Crape Myrtles are one plant susceptible to cold winter temperatures. They also can be pruned in the late winter, as they are dormant. I would caution that however, as many of these plants are over-pruned in Tulsa. They can be leaf un-pruned, and allowed to grow 20’ high if you like. If the area they are growing in allows that, this would be my recommendation. Other trees and dormant shrubs can be pruned now in winter, by taking out dead limbs and shaping the tree to allow for future growth this spring and summer.