Some turf grasses power through the cold of winter and continue to grow throughout. Others slow right down but continue to require mowing every so often.
Then there’s some that appear to completely stop growing in some climates and only start growing again when temperatures increase again.
What is happening here is called dormancy. Different grasses by nature of their composition, will go into different levels of dormancy depending on the temperature. This allows the grass to minimise metabolic activity which helps the plant to conserve energy.
Once soil temperatures drop below 14 degrees Celsius warm season grasses will start to slow down and go into a certain level of dormancy. This is a protection method they use to protect themselves from the harsh conditions of winter.
Geographically, we have a limited true cool season area compared to North America and Europe, hence the reason warm season varieties like buffalo, couch and kikuyu are much more common than cool season varieties like fescue, rye and bent grass. Because of this limited cool season, warm-season varieties never really go fully dormant and will continue to grow, just at a much slower rate.
At this time of year, it is especially noticeable as you may have gone from mowing your lawn weekly to every couple of weeks and for some of us in the more southern states –not mowing at all. Then there are more northern states, who don’t experience the seasons to the same extent, with dry or wet seasons, and their grass tends to keep growing all year round.
If you have a warm season grass, now is a good time to raise the mowing height a little to help it retain nutrient in preparation for the cooler months ahead.
A lawn in dormancy will lose some colour as it is conserving energy, this is not anything to worry about and is completely common. This is no different to trees and other plants which also turn beautiful golden browns and oranges during the autumn season. You can fight it, but it’s easier to embrace it and enjoy the variation!