Winter is on the Way!

Days are cooling off, nights are getting colder, and we may get a hard freeze as soon as next week!  What does this mean for your lawn?  First, you need to know and understand what kind of grass or grasses you have.

In our area, we are in a transitional zone, so NO one grass is perfect for both shade and sun areas. 

BERMUDA GRASS – in the sun

Do you see this pattern in your lawn?  Don’t worry, it’s just frost damage.  Frost damage does NOT actually damage your bermuda grass.  Frost has just nudged a part of your grass into dormancy, hence the strange markings.  Sometimes panicked customers will call us when they see this, thinking they have insects killing their lawn or a fungus or something.  Relax!  It’s normal.

As we head for winter and it gets colder, your bermuda lawn will go dormant.  It will look brown.  We always have some customers calling in a panic saying their lawns are dead.  These are mostly people who moved here from more southern climates where the bermuda grass or St. Augustine grass stays green year round.

Technically, the weather in our transitional zone is too cold for bermuda, a warm season grass, to stay green all year.

Some people also wonder why we’re treating brown grass.  But while the bermuda grass looks brown, it’s not dead, and its root system is still active.  The pre-emergent application we are putting on bermuda grass is very important this time of year because it prevents crabgrass from germinating.  If you don’t have a crabgrass pre-emergent put on your lawn, crabgrass will be very hard to control during the summer.

FESCUE GRASS – in the shade

If you have fescue grass in your shady areas, it should be green and doing well right now, because it’s a cool season grass.  Hopefully, you have overseeded it to keep it thick and healthy.

Technically, the weather in our transitional zone is too hot for fescue, which is why we plant it in shade areas, because bermuda grass will not grow in the shade, and fescue grass will not grow in the sun in the hot summer.

However, fescue really needs the sun to make food for itself through photosynthesis, and it will get sun as soon as the leaves are off the trees.

But, here’s the tricky part.  The leaves will fall off the trees right onto your fescue grass, covering it up.  It is essential that you try to keep the leaves blown off your fescue grass so it can get sun and store up carbohydrates to make it through the long hot summer next year.

If you have seeded, DO NOT RAKE leaves up off your fescue, or you will pull up the new seedlings.  Even if you didn’t seed, with as much rain as we’ve had, you might rake up existing grass.

Note:  If you have fully shaded areas, such as between the house and the fence, or the fence and an outbuilding, even fescue will not grow there.  All grass needs some sun. 

Wilfred braved the recent torrential downpours and came out with little more than mud spatters on his wellies.
Even though winter is on the way, you can still add some lovely color to your yard!
Tulsa Lawn Care Update – Prepare to Seed Fescue…Or Not

The time is soon approaching to overseed existing fescue grass or to seed fescue grass in a bare area.  The optimum time for seeding is mid-September to mid-October.  It’s always good to plan ahead, because sometimes you “just don’t get around to it” and then it’s too late.  (I speak from experience on that…)

But first, let’s take a look at your fescue now. Most fescue doesn’t look so hot right now, because it’s August. This is probably the worst it will look all year. Our climate here in Tulsa is simply too hot for fescue, which is why we grow it in the shade. In cooler climates, it will grow in full sun.
In Tulsa, fescue’s growing season starts in September when the temperatures start to cool down. Then, the leaves fall off the trees, and the fescue gets all the sun it needs to make food for itself and build up carbohydrate reserves to last it through the hot, shady summer with little to no sun.
Fescue grass MUST be overseeded each fall to keep it looking healthy, because the heat makes some of it die out over the summer.
Some people find this task unpalatable to say the least, especially if you have large areas of fescue. We would be happy to do that chore for you.

You NEED to seed or overseed fescue if you want nice-looking grass in these areas:

  • Areas under trees where your bermuda grass has thinned out due to too much shade
  • Bare areas under trees due to too much shade
  • Areas between houses where bermuda has thinned out due to too much shade
  • Existing areas of fescue grass
You should NOT seed fescue if:
  • You don’t want two different colors of green in your lawn (“bermuda green” in the sun and “fescue green” under the trees.)
  • You don’t want to mow your lawn at two different heights in the summer (short for bermuda, long for fescue.)
  • You don’t want to mow late into fall and early in spring (when fescue is actively growing and your bermuda is going dormant or still dormant.)
  • You have a bare area in total shade year round.  Fescue grows best in dappled sunlight, or at the least where it will get mostly full sun in the fall and winter when the leaves are off the trees.
If you decide you don’t want to seed fescue at all
then you have several alternatives to make your shady landscape look its best without grass.

  • Groundcover
  • Shade garden
  • Something else – a seating area on pavers, a fountain, a water feature, birdfeeders and bird baths, etc.
Groundcover is the easiest, hands down!
There are many lovely groundcovers that are perennials , which means you plant them once, and they spread and look beautiful forevermore, with very little maintenance. Just be sure you contain it to the area where you want it with rocks or some kind of garden edging, readily available at any Lowe’s or Home Depot.
Here are a few ground cover suggestions:


This lovely ground cover comes in several varieties. Some have shiny leaves, and some have leaves with a matte finish. Pachysandra is hardy and evergreen and it spreads. It stays low to the ground and looks very neat.
English Ivy
This hardy classic ivy grows fast and spreads fast. You have to trim it back if it starts to climb something or tries to edge out into the yard. Just check it once every couple of months and snip off anything out of bounds
Creeping Wire Plant

This unusual groundcover Muehlenbeckia axillaris is evergreen and spreading and the stems look like wire. It’s very attractive and stays very low, but like the English ivy, be sure to trim it back if it reaches out into your lawn.

Vinca Major
Vinca is another fast growing and spreading groundcover, but it’s a little taller and can grow up to 18” tall. It’s very hardy and bears little purple flowers in the spring. If it gets out of hand, you can mow over it, and it will come right back

So, determine whether or not you want to seed fescue. If you do, and you want to do it yourself, please see our post about fall fescue seeding for helpful info. If you do, and you DON’T want to do it yourself, give us a call.

In the meantime, be sure your entire lawn is watered sufficiently in this heat!
In the next blog, we’ll explore some easy plants for shade gardens!
September Update Tulsa Lawn Care – Fescue Seeding
It’s September, and most people think that the Tulsa lawn care season is winding down. But, in some ways, it’s just getting started.
Prepare to Overseed your Fescue.
Fescue’s growing season starts now. In Tulsa, our weather is really too hot for fescue, which is why we grow it in the shade, where it remains cooler. But since it’s too hot, we lose some of our fescue every year, so we need to reseed it each fall to keep it looking full and lush. The best time for seeding fescue is mid-September to mid-October.
Fescue likes full sun in cooler climates. So when the leaves begin to fall off the trees here, the fescue soaks up a lot of sun in order to create carbohydrate stores for next summer when it won’t get any sun because the leaves will be back on the trees.

If you don’t want to fool with all that, give us a call for a free estimate or request one online and consider letting us overseed your fescue for you. Just remember that whether you seed yourself or have someone else do it, it will be up to you to keep it moist so it will germinate, and continue to keep it moist so the young seedlings don’t die

Be Careful What You Prune Right Now.
Many people see fall as the time to clean up their landscape and trim trees and shrubs to get ready for winter. However, a good rule of thumb is to NOT prune trees and shrubs while leaves are forming or falling. You ESPECIALLY do not want to prune spring-bloomers like hydrangea or azaleas. If you do, you will have very few flowers in the spring. Most spring bloomers get flowers on last year’s wood. Thus, it is best to prune them in the spring, after your blooms have faded.
Remember to Water When You Can, In the Absence of Rain.

Your landscape needs water year round.  Luckily, we’ve had some good precipitation lately, but when we don’t, be sure to give your lawn and landscape a drink.

We are now going to implant a subliminal message in your brain that will pop up every time you sit down to watch a football game.  You will wonder>>>>>>>>Do I have enough time to make nachos?  Has my lawn gotten enough water this week?

If you ever have any questions about your lawn feel free to give us a call at 918-344-5737 or email us via the free estimate form.

As always, we appreciate your business!