When will my grass green up this spring?

After a cold winter, there is usually much anticipation of warmer spring temperatures. Following even the coldest of winters, our landscapes eventually start looking a little brighter with daffodils blooming, evergreen plants beginning a transformation to their warm-season colors, and grass greening up.

Each of your outdoor plants, including your various trees, shrubs, perennial flowers, and grass, has a certain temperature at which it will leave its winter dormant state. Organic lawn care is especially dependent on soil temperatures because an organic approach relies on the living ecosystem within the soil to help the grass grow. From late fall through early spring, most of the organisms in the soil are in their dormant state. They are hibernating. As the temperatures rise in the spring, these organisms wake up and begin processing nutrients, making them available to the grass.

It should be noted that grass that is greener during the winter or that greens up early in the spring is not necessarily healthier than grass that is not as green. It is simply a sign that certain high-nitrogen fertilizers, which are not as dependent on the soil ecosystem to work, were applied late during the previous fall. The actual health of a lawn should not be measured by when it turns green after being dormant, but rather by the content of the soil, level of pests and diseases, and overall appearance of the lawn throughout the entire growing season.
Tall Fescue in February in Wake Forest
Tall Fescue in May in Wake Forest

At Crownover Green, we closely monitor soil temperatures using this tool provided by the state climate office at North Carolina State University. Knowing the soil temperatures throughout the growing season helps us gauge when to sow seed or apply the various organic lawn care products that are included in the Crownover Green Lawn Care Solution. It also helps us know when to expect different types of grass to begin greening up in the spring.

Fescue turfgrass will begin to come out of dormancy as soil temperatures exceed about 50 degrees, which is typically around mid-March in Wake Forest and Raleigh, NC. By mid April, a Fescue lawn in this area should reach its ideal deep green color.

Bermudagrass and Zoysiagrass will begin to exit dormancy as soil temperatures reach about 60 degrees and will gradually turn from their sandy tan color of winter to their bright green color of summer when soil temperatures exceed 70 degrees, which is usually by June in this area.

Alas, no matter when the grass greens up in the spring, it never seems to green up fast enough.