Mote: Preparing your grass to green up

March 26, 2014 

Spring is officially here, and it’s time for warm-season grasses to begin greening up. So what if your grass does not? There are several things that could cause your grass not to green-up in the spring, but don’t panic just yet.

It is important to remember that warm-season grasses’ green-up is dependent on soil temperature. The adequate soil temperature is 65 degrees. Right now, according to, the average soil temperature for March at the 4-inch depth is 54 degrees.

Since Middle Georgia experienced snow and ice this winter, there is the possibility we will see winter damage to our warm-season grasses. Warm-season grasses such as centipede and St. Augustine have no below-ground rhizomes. They grow above the ground through stolons (runners). This makes recovery and regrowth more difficult. Bermuda grass on the other hand should be fine as long as we do not get another cold snap. As the temperatures warm and the grass begins to sprout, another cold snap could kill the new grass tissue.

Disease can also be an issue during green-up. Rhizoctonia large patch is common this time of year since it likes night temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees. You can see its typical “halo” when this disease is active. Fall and spring fungicide application can control it. High traffic areas can result in compacted soils. Grass cannot grow strong roots in compacted soils. The best way to relieve compaction is tillage.

Here are some tips to help your lawn green up. Maintain a correct mowing height, and mow frequently. Improper mowing can stress the grass causing a setback with green-up. Watering too much or too little can cause problems for grasses. Both too much water and too little water stresses the grass. Too much water also provides the perfect environment for most diseases. Do not listen to the commercials telling you that now is the time to fertilize your grass. Hold off on the first application of nitrogen until middle to late April. Our warm-season grasses should be fertilized only when soil temperatures are at a constant 65 degrees 4 inches deep. Fertilizing warm-season grasses in early spring can cause them to break dormancy. If another cold snap hits, the grass has used up all its food reserves and cannot withstand the environmental stresses. Over-fertilization can also cause problems with disease.


For more information on any program area, contact Houston County Extension at 478-987-2028 or drop by our office in the old courthouse, downtown Perry, 801 Main St. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visit our website at for more news about your local Extension office.

Dates to remember

March is AG Awareness Month

April 5-6: Spring Home and Garden Show, Perry

April 29: Totally Tomatoes

Charlotte Mote is the Houston County agricultural and natural resources agent. Contact her at 478-987-2028 or

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