Every property owner knows how integral the quality of their lawn is to the public perception of the property. We work with properties that host Triple Crown events, like the Preakness Stakes, so this is no joke. Turf that is decayed, or even dead can cause potential customers of a retail center to turn away, or question if they are in the right place. Rather than cause such confusion, it is important to keep turf healthy. However, given the climate of Maryland, grass can often play a trick on us. Rather than being dead, turf goes dormant during the winter, and may appear dead. We are going to discuss the differences between the two, and what to do about dormancy.

Dead Grass vs Dormant Grass- What is the Difference?What is Dormancy?
We are going to do our best to provide some sort of scientific explanation as to why turf turns brown, but is not dead. Dormancy is actually a defense mechanism used by turf to take a period of rest during times of extreme temperatures, such as the summer and winter. It is typically a direct reaction to a lack of moisture, with the summer heat, and dry cold. The turf restricts the usage of nutrients it has in storage, directing them to the essential functions that keep the lawn alive. This is why dormancy is nothing to worry about, as the roots are still healthy, although the turf may turn brown.

When Does Dormancy Occur?

Although we briefly touched on the timing, we want to get more specific to the Maryland area. The first factor that determines when dormancy occurs is the type of turfgrass itself. Whether the turf is a cool-season turfgrass or a warm-season turfgrass will determine which seasons it is hardier in, and when it will need moisture. 

Cool-Season Turfgrass

During the winter months when soil temperatures drop below 40 degrees, you can expect cool-season turfgrasses to enter dormancy. If these cool-season turfgrasses are not adequately irrigated during the summer, they can enter a brief dormancy if the summer is particularly dry. However, if your cool-season turf goes dormant during the summer, a lack of irrigation could lead it to death. Lack of shade can be another culprit of moisture, so ensure your cool-season turf has some coverage in the winter. 

Warm-Season TurfgrassDead Grass vs Dormant Grass- What is the Difference?

In comparison to cold-season turfgrass, warm-season will thrive in the heat of summer. It is built to be tolerant of the heat and should stay green all summer long. This means that the time of dormancy for this turfgrass is the fall and winter. In terms of soil temperature, this can be thought of as when it consistently drops below 50 degrees. Unlike cold-season turf, roots always stay active and do not go dormant alongside the blades themselves.

Dead or Dormant?

The easiest way to tell if the turf is dead or dormant is by calling a lawn care professional. If you do not want to do that, simply ask yourself if the turf looks healthy. Should turf be dormant, then the only difference between it and healthy turf should be the coloring. If the grass is getting patchy, soggy, or patterned, you might have a problem. Dormant grass will retain the same healthy look. 

Your landscaping is the first thing noticed by your visitors, friends, and customers. Let OakLawn Landscaping ensure that your first impressions are top-notch and have your guests in awe before they even reach the door. Visit our website, or contact us today at (301) 854-0684 for any of your landscaping needs, commercial or residential.

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