The cool temperatures have settled in and so has the start of the yellow ryegrass season. Amazingly enough, here in the desert we do get pretty cold during the winter months and a few days of hard frost is enough to wreak havoc on your lush ryegrass or now completely dormant turf.

As I drive around town and look at all the houses that have sheets and burlap over their plants, you will never see anyone that has their lawn covered. Since it would be a little time consuming and expensive to cover your lawn during the cooler nights it is important to keep your lawn healthy with the right fertilizers. I recently posted several different techniques for keeping the color in your grass and as a quick reminder it is important to foliar feed your lawn with nitrogen, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium during the winter months. You will usually find all of these items mixed together in a product such as Soil Burst liquid fertilizers. Again be safe with the iron and keep it away from your walkways, pavers, and anything you do not want to stain. The Soil Burst is a product that is non staining and can be hooked up to your hose to apply evenly over your lawn.

I recently had a question from a homeowner asking how they could get frost damage to their ryegrass when temperatures are above the freezing point. Here in the desert we get what is known as temperature inversion. Temperature inversion occurs when we have calm, clear nights, the air near the ground cools as the heat radiates back into space just after dawn. This results in an inversion where the outside temperature increases with height such as a hillside. So the lower valleys are affected much more than the surrounding hills. What does this mean for your lawn? The temperature outside may be registering an air temperature of 40 degrees but the low pockets in the ground such as your lawn are actually registering a temperature below the freezing point. With that theory in mind, it explains why as the sun comes up the temperature closet to the ground cools. There is not always frost at 5 am, but often by sunrise it will form on the ground as temperature increases in space and decreases in the low areas. If you have ever had an early tee time at a desert golf course in the winter you may say how can there be a frost delay when it’s 40 and now you know the answer. The putting greens and fairways are easily affected because often times they have low undulations running throughout them. When frost is present on your lawn you do not want to walk on, mow, or do anything that could injure that plant. A typical sign of frost damage in turf is purple footprints or purple tire marks running throughout the grass. Yes your grass will recover from a little damage, but there is no reason to not wait for the temperatures to rise and for the frost to burn off before doing anything to it.

Watering during the winter months can be tricky, but it is also a great time to conserve water. Any time we experience a rain event our soils will hold the water for a few days without needing to be replenished through supplemental irrigation. The same holds true if you are just watering deep and infrequent. The cool temperatures keep the evapotranspiration rate (ET) low and therefore less water is needed to maintain a healthy lawn. A typical lawn needs about ½” of water per week. This can come from rain, or irrigation so don’t set the clock and forget it. If you lawn is dormant water 1x per month to keep some moisture in the ground and keep your clock off if we get a ½” of rain or more during the month.

We are not in a time period when any diseases or insect problems would be present so there is nothing to worry about right now but it is a good time to aerify your lawn and promote a healthy root system and get more oxygen into the plant. You can usually rent an aerifier from a landscape rental company or the Home Depot. Make sure to make out all of your sprinkler heads so you don’t cause any extra damage. This is not a good time to do any dethatching or verticutting because your turf is not actively growing.

That is my science lesson for the day and hopefully it helps you with your turf and plants. Remember to get your turf a good foliar feed every few weeks threw the winter and you will have the greenest lawn around.


College Football Wrap Up

After the college football season that I just sat through with my Michigan Wolverines I thought I needed a nice long break from the blog world to collect my thoughts and see if I was a possible candidate to replace Rich Rodriguez as the next head coach.

I think I could draw up a few dozen plays and put 11 guys on offense and defense and beat a D-2 school and 5 weak Big Ten teams to secure a Little Caesars Bowl invite. Now I do lack a little coaching experience, but I would try and sell him on the fact that they were at least playing on a perfect field every week. If I were to write a letter to David Brandon the athletic director of Michigan my qualifications would not say offensive or defensive guru, but rather say with my turf background I have the ability to make your team faster just as we have done with teams year after year in the Rose Bowl.

Now I would think speed would appeal to a team with a QB like Denard Robinson, but then again without any defensive recruits or players it might be better to play on a slow slippery field like we saw last night. I highly doubt that anyone last night thought we would see a defensive grudge match between Oregon and Auburn but offense seemed to be secondary. We all know that the SEC prides itself on speed and Oregon is all about getting a play off every 10 seconds but they seemed to really be slowed down last night and a defensive battle broke out in Glendale. Auburn definitely was the better team last night and for those TCU fans out there arguing that you should get a shot at them, it is not going to happen. Be happy with a Rose Bowl victory and appearance. It is not easy to get a committee such as the Rose Bowl to go out of the box and select a non PAC-10 or Big-10 team to play in the Granddaddy of them all.

I feel it is important to admit that I was wrong about Auburn throughout the year and therefore they are clearly getting my number one post season spot. If I were asked to submit my post season top 5 it would look like this (not that anyone is asking, but here you go): 

 1) Auburn

 2) Stanford

3) Alabama

4) Oregon

5) TCU

I am sorry TCU but I watched a lot of college football over the past few weeks and despite beating a bigger, tougher Wisconsin team I just don’t think you could play on the same field and the other four teams I mentioned.

Before I end my college football blog for the season I just have one question for the NCAA. How is it okay to trade your game pants, jersey’s, and other team items for ink (tattoos) as long as you promise to come back and serve your 5 game penalty next year?

Keep it green!