Palisades Zoysia: Prepare For Dropping Temperatures

Enjoy your Palisades Zoysia lawn in the fall and prepare it for winter.

This year I got to meet and speak to a lot of my neighbors. Our neighborhood was filled with families walking their children up and down the streets during the spring months. If you were like the millions of people that worked from home with the COVID-19 shut down, you likely got to make a lot of new friends.

This year, more people worked at home and spent time in their yards working with their lawn than ever. You may have even done something different like planting a garden or taking on another, unique home improvement project. Now that fall is here and winter is fast approaching, getting your lawn ready for colder temperatures is important. Something magical happens in the fall that causes the vibrant colors to appear on the trees. The fall colors are triggered by a cool front or frost that hits the trees. It traps the carbohydrates in the tree leaves. It is these carbohydrates that stop transferring food into the wood and down into the roots. The more vibrant the leaves are, the more likely the growing season for the trees was positive. It takes good soil health and great growing conditions that produce high levels of carbohydrates to produce beautiful fall colors.

Your Zoysia lawn is a lot like the trees in the fall. All summer, it uptakes nutrients and grows so that you have a beautiful lawn. Then, fall comes and it is very critical for the Zoysia plant to slow down its upward and lateral growth and begin the important work of storing carbohydrates. In the fall, your lawn begins focusing on storing carbohydrates into the roots and stolons, down at the soil level. If your Zoysia lawn is healthy in the fall, it is working overtime to store as much carbohydrate in the plant as possible. This will make sure it survives the winter and has plenty of food supplies to come out in the spring. A weak Zoysia plant in the fall makes your Zoysia lawn susceptible to winter damage and slow spring green up. It all begins in the soil. Taking another soil sample in the beginning of the fall is a great time to make sure that your lawn is getting the right nutrients to keep it healthy through winter and spring. To help your Zoysia lawn get ready for winter it needs to be transferring energy down and not up or out.

That is where soil health comes in. Lower nitrogen and adequate supplies of potassium and phosphate in the fall allows the grass to push the energy down into the lower parts of the plant. Too much nitrogen in the fall keeps the plants pushing up and not storing this energy. Keeping the pH between 5.7 and 6.5 will give your Zoysia the freedom to convert the soil nutrients into energy. Some areas in the southern US have had a lot of rain this year and it may have leached out more of your potassium. If so, that will impact the supply of carbohydrates that are needed for winter hardiness. The soil test will help identify that, and it can be easily corrected in your fall fertilization program.

A couple maintenance points to remember:

Make sure to keep the mowing height to 1-3″ and also put down a pre-emergent to keep the winter weeds away. And before your Zoysia lawn goes into full dormancy, keep an eye out for threatening insects and disease. I found a great website to read about all of the things to look for in the fall to make sure you lawn stays healthy. Find it here.

Keeping your Zoysia lawn healthy and enjoyable year-round is not as difficult as many other lawn grasses. Just knowing some of the key things to look out for is critical. Your Zoysia lawn can last as long as your house stands with proper care. This is the time of the year you should be able to really enjoy your lawn. Always
remember that a healthy lawn is not an accident.