Old man winter decided to give us one final blast of cold air this morning, just to remind us that he will be back I guess. For people trying to grow grass or get an early start on their summer gardens, it’s just another reminder of who is in charge, and it’s really not us! I already lost my nine tomato plants I planted in my drive to bring on spring. But I was not about to lose my tender peas in the garden, so I remembered to cover them up last night.
The bermudagrass is a different story. I’ve been writing about the likelihood of some winterkill of bermudagrass in the Tulsa area for the past several months, due to the long periods of cold weather this year. I’ve written about the dangers of scalping bermudagrass too soon in the spring, before the chance of a late spring freeze passes, which is about April 15th. I thought we may have dodged a bullet, because I’ve seen some decent green-up on Tulsa lawns in April so far. However, the hard freeze from this morning may have set back those bermudagrass lawns that had begun to green-up. We shall see over the next week or so.
Now that the danger of a freeze is past us, it’s a good thing to scalp bermudagrass, or at least mow it down short and remove the dead grass blades. The turf will look nicer, expose the spring heat to the soil surface, and cause your bermudagrass lawn to green-up faster. New growth in spring initiates from the crown of the plant, which is right on or below the soil surface, and from the nodes on the underground rhizome of bermudagrass. Every winter some of those are damaged or lost, no matter what the conditions. When you throw in extended periods of cold winter weather, and then a late hard freeze, more will be lost.
Bermudagrass is a tough grass though, and it will recover. Some keys to recovery are:
- Hot weather (we are not in charge here.)
- Good rain or irrigation
- Proper fertilization (we have that one.)
- Proper mowing
Hopefully by early May our bermudagrass lawns in Tulsa and NE Oklahoma will all be looking green and healthy, and well on their way to providing the important environmental, health, aesthetic, and economic benefits they provide us all.