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Does Grass Die in the Winter?

“Does grass really die in the winter? How does it come back?” 

This is a question that’s raised pretty frequently. The answer is a little more involved than a simple yes or no, however.

Grass can die, but it can also become dormant. For cool-season grasses, a period of long, hot weather with not enough water (remember Summer 2016 that we thought would never end???) will cause them to go dormant. In cold weather, warm-season grasses will go dormant. Dormancy is nothing to worry about; it’s a natural protection mechanism and grasses should return to normal under less extreme temps.

Dead grass can be difficult to detect, especially in the dead of summer or middle of winter. During the summer, continuing to water grass can help highlight brown spots that might be dead. However, there does become a point where it could be so hot that no amount of water will bring the grass out of its dormancy for comparison.

In the winter, detecting dead grass can be even harder. Because grass is dormant due to the frigid temperatures, there is little to do to bring it out of its slumber. It’s possible you will have to wait until spring to see if it comes out of dormancy to determine if it is dead or not.

Because Middle Tennessee is in such a unique location, it is difficult to maintain a lawn that is green absolutely year round. One solution is to plant a mixture of cool-season and warm-season grass seeds so that they can take each other’s place as weather changes.

If your grass is killed in the winter, we have some tips for that too!