March Warm Season Lawn Tips for 2023

It's been warm and your lawn knows it. As a result, your warm season lawn is breaking dormancy early and patches of green are probably forming in the warmest areas (tops of hills or near concrete and other heat sinks). If not in patches, then little green spears of grass are probably poking up throughout the entire lawn. 

If you looked at the 10 day forecast, you noticed it may freeze again. Depending on how low it goes and how long it lasts, your lawn may go dormant and brown again. Don't worry, this is just part of the roller coaster ride of spring and it will be okay. When it warms up again, your lawn will start growing again.

warm season lawn coming out of dormancy

In the warmth, green spears of Zoysia are starting to poke up in this dormant lawn.


Fertilizing Tips 

Since lawns are greening up, a "what not to do" section about fertilizing seems appropriate to reinforce how important it is to not do anything to your Bermuda, Centipede, or Zoysia lawn yet. Hang tight because in April you'll probably be able to fertilize again. 

  • Whatever you do, don't apply nitrogen this time of year when your warm season lawn is dormant. Until your lawn has greened up all over, it's still time to rest. Avoid "weed and feed" and "winterizer" product marketing - these products usually contain nitrogen and nitrogen will push growth during a time that can cause cold damage to your lawn. 
  • Likewise, hold off aerating warm season lawns until they fully green up in the spring.

Mower Tips

NEWS FLASH: You may need to mow your warm season lawn this week, even though it may freeze next week.

I usually say there's nothing to mow yet in March. Surprise, surprise, there is something to mow this year! I'm in Zone 8a and there are little spears of grass shooting up in my Zoysia. I'm going to do a quick mow this week so they don't get ahead of me in the 80 degree weather predicted this week.

If there's nothing for you to mow yet and you're eager to be out on your lawn bonding with it, you can at least wake up your mower.

  • Start by cleaning off plant debris from last year.
  • Change spark plug, oil, air filter, and fuel filter.
  • Did you drain the gas last fall? If not, you'll need to address getting your mower started again - if it won't start, now's a good time to take it to the shop for some carburetor work before everyone else takes in theirs.
  • If you have an electric mower, test the battery and make sure it wasn't drained by the polar blast before Christmas. You may need to buy a new battery.
  • Inspect your mower blades. Do they need sharpening? (They probably do.) You can take off the blades and take them to be sharpened or you can buy new ones if they're that bad.

Weeding

  • Right now, the best solution for winter weeds is pulling them by hand. This may not be what you want to hear. Happily, there is hope for preventing a weedy infestation next winter and Clare explains the steps in Tackling Winter Weeds.
  • If you have a bad infestation and don't want this to happen again, sign up for Lawn Coach and we'll mail you pre-emergent herbicide in September to prevent winter weeds from germinating next year.

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  • Mow your weeds. If you didn't apply pre-emergent in September to stop the weeds you're seeing now (such as chickweed and annual poa), mow those weeds down.  
  • Post-emergent herbicide: Weather permitting, you can apply post-emergent liquid herbicides like Quincept and 3-Way Max for weeds you can see now in established warm season lawns. These post-emergents work best above 65 degrees so they will work this month during warm spells, so pay close attention to your favorite weather station. As always, carefully read the label and follow the product instructions.
  • Pre-emergent herbicide: The next window for spreading pre-emergent herbicide will open again in April. We'll sound the trumpets in April when it's time again. FYI - There are three pre-emergent windows a year: September, February, and April. Signing up for Lawn Coach makes it easer to keep track of these windows.
  • Mulch suppresses winter weeds in flower beds. Spread your favorite mulch 2-4" thick and keep it 1-2" away from touching the trunks or stems of your plants. Rake/blow leaves off your lawn and into your beds and natural areas rather than bagging them.
  • Winter weeds are getting big and will be flowering and going to seed soon. Learn about common winter lawn weeds and how to stop them in our Winter Weed Profiles.

Vicia sativa common vetch flower2

Common and hairy vetches are have been growing fast in the warm weather and I found flowers and fruit pods on them already in March.


Lay Dormant Sod in March - Go for it!

If bare spots are driving you crazy or you have made renovations, you can stop all that mud by laying dormant sod.

No problem! Laying dormant sod is "a thing." It's about to wake up too!

We recommend you read our article on laying dormant sod for a few important tips.

Come back next month for April Lawn Tips for Warm Season lawns!

If you have a Tall Fescue lawn (the best cool season lawn for the Southeast), read our blog with February tips for Tall Fescue lawns.

Got questions? Leave a comment below!

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