Cold Weather Damage to
Lawns and Landscapes
By Harold Jones
Southern Horticultural Consultants


This is a La Nina year which typically means milder than normal temperatures and dryer than normal weather.

Winter 2010-2011 was a colder than normal season through January. December was 9 degrees colder than average (with very little rainfall) and January was 5 degrees colder than average (with above average rainfall). These extremes were followed by a February which was a couple of degrees warmer than average (with above average rainfall).

This is a typical weather pattern for serious damage from a late frost. In seasons past, we have had frost as late as April 11th and these late frosts typically can cause serious damage to lawns and landscape plants.

lawn and landscape care

Established 1993



skinnie vinnie lawncare logo fernandina beach
spring 2011

Proper care is essential to the recovery of
St. Augustine lawns from cold wather damage.

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When we compare this year to last, we have not had temperatures as low as we got last year and new growth is already coming in lawns and on trees and shrubs. Last year we didn’t get this weather pattern until April.

Did we get as much damage to lawns this year? Probably not, but the dry weather in December may result in some damage. In reality, some lawns did not recover well because of the rainfall pattern last year. Some areas got too much rain, but most did not get normal rainfall and were dry in the late summer and fall.

Remember, St. Augustine grass is a semi-tropical grass which can be damaged by frost if it has not had a chance to adapt to cold temperatures or is trying to grow. Generally when temperatures drop below 25 degrees there can be heavy damage in St. Augustine lawns.

What can you do to reduce the severity of cold weather damage?

  1. Probably the most important thing is be patient. It's going to take time for the grass to recover this year.
  2. Don't mow the yard until warmer weather (generally March) and then don't mow if frost is predicted.
  3. Water the lawn when the weather turns dry. Watering has generally not been necessary since December because we have had more rain than normal. When the temperatures get into the 70's and 80's watch the water closely. Remember, you can water once a week (if needed) while we are on Eastern Standard Time and twice a week (if needed) while we are on Eastern Daylight time. Too much water will damage the grass rather than help it.
  4. Spring fertilization will be important. Fertilizer applications should not start until after March 1st this year and even then, a late frost could make damage worse, but the grass will need the nutrients to recover this year.

St. Augustine grass will run and cover damaged areas if you can be patient and wait. Sod will probably be in short supply and prices will again be high.

Serving mainland Fernandina Beach Florida Lawns and Landscapes with excellence since 1993

We service a limited area of
off-island Fernandina Beach
and surrounding communities.


(904) 343-3323

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