What if the lawn looks kind of brown instead of the bright green color it had during the colder season? What should be done about it? Should we put extra fertilizer on it and water it more to green it up? Should we mow it lower to make it all look neater?
In spite of the temptation to try all of these things, the fact is that not even one of them is a good idea right now. At this point, all lawns have at least some degree of dormancy, as they are in a period of slow growth. Individual lawns may or may not stay green. Either way, it is normal.
Instead, we must resist the urge to fertilize at all until early to mid-March. At this time, a natural green-up will begin to occur, as temperatures become warmer. Do not even apply weed and feed right now, as it does contain fertilizer. Instead, use a spot killer for weeds and sedges which may spring up. A pre-emergent may be used in February to prevent weed seeds from germinating. However, applying any nitrogen right now can make the lawn more susceptible to fungus such as large patch, which occurs during cooler weather. It can also stimulate new growth which may be less cold hardy in the event of a freeze. In short, you could be setting your lawn up for damage and disease by trying to help it out.
Extra watering also falls into this category. In fact, watering should be reduced. Once a week would be the maximum, with once every 2 weeks also being an option. Often, the rainfall is sufficient during cool weather, so that the irrigation can be turned off until needed. If the lawn begins to wilt, be sure to irrigate early in the morning to deter fungal diseases.
One benefit of the cooler weather is the need for less mowing. Just resist the urge to mow it lower to even it up. This is another practice which can make it less able to recover from a freeze. Just wait until the lawn grows higher than the recommended maximum of 4″.
Rest assured that you will once again be able to help your lawn out when spring arrives. Fertilization can be done then.
Just appreciate the opportunity to spend less time on your lawn right now, because the lawn maintenance season will certainly be back soon enough.