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Understanding Your Warm-Season Turf’s Green Up

There are a few different factors that influence your warm-season turf’s green. Here’s what you need to know about what affects it, when you should expect it to occur and more.

Understanding Your Warm-Season Turf’s Green Up

All warm-season turfgrass varieties green up at different times. Typically, but not always, centipede will start to come in and out of dormancy first.  Bermuda (especially common Bermuda) will start to green up next. Certain zoysia varieties follow. For all warm-season varieties, though, there are several factors to consider:

  • Ground temperatures.southern-perfection-lawn2-300x225
  • Sun/shade (this includes shade between houses). The more indirect sunlight your lawn receives, the longer it will take to break dormancy.  Areas with indirect sunlight also tend to go dormant sooner.
  • Soil moisture/irrigation.
  • Root, turf maturity and density.
  • Turf fertility and weed management programs. Turf management will slow green up due to pre- and post-emergent weed controls. This is especially true when trying to control crabgrass and annual winter weeds. This is why you may notice non-managed turf greening up sooner.

Why Some Turf Areas Green Up Faster Than Others

Do not be alarmed if you see some areas greening up faster than others. This is normal when a lawn is going in and out of dormancy. You may even see your front and back yard greening up at different rates. Most of the time, green up will start around sidewalks, driveways and roadways.

This is caused by heat transfer from hard surfaces warming the soil faster. It’s not uncommon to see one side of the street greening up faster than the other. Striping green areas or sections that look like waves or tiger stripes are also normal. This happens on zoysia most often.

Why Spring Can Still Be Difficult on Warm-Season Turf


Winter/cold weather injury is always a concern in North Carolina when growing warm-season turf. This can occur when soil or air temperatures drop below the tolerable warm-season turf threshold.  Spring is the hardest on warm-season turf because warmer days will increase turf activity, only for a hard freeze to come along. This is what makes centipede especially susceptible to cold injury.

We had such an event mid-March of this year, when temperatures dipped into the low- to mid-20s. We even saw cool-season turf injury along with plant material with new growth. Winter/cold injury can occur in certain sections of the lawn or widespread areas.  Every year appears to have different conditions and events that cause possible injury.

When All Warm-Season Turf Should Green Up By

Generally, it won’t be until mid- to late May when all warm-season turf completely comes out of dormancy and actively grows in central and western North Carolina. This is due in part to cool nights and cold periods through April and, at times, very early May.Mid- to late May is also usually when you can confirm winter/cold injury if any is present (though we do have a trick to know sooner). June is when all warm-season turfgrasses start to actively grow.

Ensure Your Lawn’s Green Up With Fairway Green

Fairway Green can understand and support what your specific warm-season lawn needs. Our warm-season lawn maintenance plans are tailor-made to keep your turf healthy, beautiful and hassle-free. Contact us today for your free lawn analysis and 30% off your first service!