What Happened During Hibernation?

Insight Into What Your Turf Did All Winter

Being a turf professional is a year-round profession, but your turf sometimes has to hit “pause”. In the winter (and even in the hottest weeks of the summer) turf goes dormant. But what happens during the winter months, and what are the best ways to wake it back up?

What Happens When Turf Goes Dormant?

Turf dormancy is a natural process that turf uses to protect itself from extreme stress and damage. During the winter months across much of the US, turf dormancy occurs when the warm-season grasses experience cold temperatures and low light. Dormancy also happens in hot, dry conditions, especially with cool-season grasses.

When a plant goes dormant, it halts all growth, protecting the crown of the plant at all costs. The leaves and stems become secondary, and as long as the crown stays alive and intact, it can regenerate when it comes out of dormancy.

Although your turf is protecting itself when it’s dormant, it’s still very fragile, so you shouldn’t walk or drive on when it’s dormant. This can cause damage to the crown, effectively killing the grass and causing bare patches on your turf in the spring.

In a practical sense in the winter, the ground freezes, so it’s much harder for the turf to grow or absorb nutrients. The plant becomes dormant so that it’s not spending extra energy trying to grow through the frozen ground.

How Do We Get It To Wake Up?

Turf often “wakes up” by itself when the weather warms up in the spring. But, as a turf professional, there are ways to help it along.

First, after the snow melts and you see the turf start to regain its color, begin watering again, keeping an eye on how much rain you’re getting. Pretty much any plant grows when it’s warm and wet, so that’s a key first step.

Secondly, make sure you feed it with nitrogen-rich nutrients. LebanonTurf offers dozens of fertilizers, all designed to help your turf thrive with the right nutrients. For example, ProScape Fertilizer with Acelepryn plus Dimension is an excellent fertilizer that combines slow-release nitrogen, and also kills and prevents crabgrass. So, it feeds and protects your turf for up to 16 weeks.

Keep an eye on diseases and insects, too. From snow mold to grubs, your turf has a lot of enemies, and we have the tools to defeat them.

Lastly, it can be tricky in golf situations, but spring is a great time to aerate. It opens up the compacted soil and allows room for air (literally) and nutrients to get in there and do their work.


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