Lawn Care

Why Is My Warm Season Lawn Patchy after Frost?

20 December 2021

In the Triangle area, we experience our first frost sometime around the second week of November, however it has been occurring later over the years, the first frost accelerates the transition from slow growth to full dormancy in warm season turf such as Bermuda and Zoysia. The process doesn’t always result in a uniform look, however. Often, after the first frost the initial expression can result in a mosaic pattern of stripes and spots across the open areas of lawns, resembling tiger stripes or camouflage.

What Causes This?

In Short: Inconsistencies in ground temperature.

The temperature of air changes much more quickly than the temperature of soil. This is evident in the difference between daytime temperatures and nighttime temperatures. During the day, heat from the sun causes the afternoons to be typically warmer than nights. Soil, which is a combination of particles and pores filled with air and water, only fluctuate by a few degrees. It takes consistently cooler air temperatures to reduce ground temperatures.

The tan stripes are evidence of that process starting, while the green stripes are created by warm patches in the soil radiating heat. Eventually, as ground temperatures cool and frost happens a few more times, these areas will also retire and take their “winter nap”

Will My Lawn Recover Evenly in the Spring?

The patchy lawn you may see just before full dormancy has no direct, long-term effect on plant health. The stripes and spots eventually surrender to full dormancy for winter. Warm Season Turf such as Bermuda and Zoysia have been preparing for this, by storing energy throughout the fall. There are other environmental factors that can result in inconsistent green-up of your lawn, but this isn’t one of them. At Dorsey Lawn & Landscape we’ve fertilized and cared for your lawn to ensure it is the hardiest it can be through winter, preparing your lawn for a successful spring.

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Whenever you have questions about your lawn, feel free to call us. Our Lawn Care Professionals are ready and willing to discuss your concerns. Which is one of the many ways Dorsey Lawn & Landscape aims to provide the best customer support possible to all of our clients.

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