Autumn is the best time to prepare your lawn for winter; however, there are still steps you can take during winter to ensure that your lawn doesn’t get the ‘winter blues’:
Keep Watering Your Lawn
One of the biggest mistakes Aussies make is thinking they don’t need to keep watering their lawn during the winter months. If you’ve got a cool season grass, make sure it’s getting a good deep drink once a week – taking into account any rainfall (also check your area for any water restrictions that might apply). Frost doesn’t equal watering as it sits on the surface and much can evaporate before it can soak into the soil. It is best to water in the morning, which allows the lawn to dry off during the day and helps reduce diseases.
Fertilising in winter, and should you?
The majority of Aussie lawns are warm season grasses that generally go into dormancy around this time of year. As mentioned in last month’s blog, the best time to fertilise your lawn is in autumn in preparation for winter, however, you can give your lawn a good feed around late August so it can make a strong and healthy comeback for the spring months ahead.
For cool season grasses, like Fescue and Bluegrass, we recommend using either Munns Professional Golf Course Green Lawn Fertiliser.
If you’ve got a warm season grass, like Couch or Buffalo, we recommend using Munns Professional Buffalo Booster Lawn Fertiliser or Munns Buffalo Green Lawn Fertiliser.
Upright grasses/cool season (Tall Fescue, Ryes & Kentucky Bluegrass) – you can now lower your mowing height to let the sun & warmth into the thatch, especially in shaded areas.
Runner grasses/warm season (Couch, Kikuyu & Buffalo) - it is best not to cut too close. A higher cut in winter will prolong the colour in the leaf. Just run the mower over any soursobs or winter weeds (do not cut the actual lawn) and make sure you catch the clippings, as you don’t want the weed seeds to drop back in.
A job that a lot of people neglect in winter is keeping the blades on the mower nice and sharp. Dull blades rip and pull at the grass – you’ll notice little strings attached to the ends of grass blades, where its edges are frayed and damaged, that’s how you know you’re overdue for sharpening your blades! By keeping the mower blades sharp it makes for a cleaner cut, and causes less stress to the grass so it can recover quickly.
Blades should be checked approximately every 6 months.
Coring your lawn in Winter
As the warmer months come to an end, many lawns can become compacted and weedy. Now, while the soil is softer, is an ideal time to aerate the lawn to allow moisture back into the soil and rejuvenate your lawn. Coring improves the flow of air, water and fertiliser nutrients through the soil and turf root zone, and the process can be done with a hand held corer or you can hire a machine and contractor to get the job done for you.
After coring, we recommend you directly apply Gypsum (a soft sulphate mineral) at 1kg per 2sqm. The Gypsum will work its way into the core holes and improve drainage in your lawn.
Munns tip: The Gypsum could be mixed in with your lawn fertiliser and applied at the same time, watering in immediately afterwards.
Weed out the weak!
During Winter, weeds take advantage of your lawn’s weakened state to fill every possible gap. Bindii and broad-leaved weeds can be easily controlled with the right weed killers without causing damage to your lawn.
Broadleaf weeds include clovers, dandelions, capeweed, cudweed and thistles.
We recommend using:
Let your lawn breathe
Deciduous trees are great to have in the garden and provide year–round benefits. But at the end of Autumn when they have dropped all their leaves, you need to ensure that they are picked up from the lawn. The leaves drop so that the tree can let sunlight through to the lawn, however if you do not pick the leaves up, they block sunlight to the grass underneath, hinder the oxygen, water and nutrients from getting where they need to go. In turn this will make the lawn below more susceptible to fungal diseases and pests.
Dealing with frost
Keep off the grass!! Frost is your grass blades freezing, walking over it results in these grass blades snapping under your feet or car. This can then be seen initially as black marks and later brown dead leaf. If the frost is light, when temperatures start to warm up a light application of water can help to remove the frost quicker and help the plant deal with the shock/stress of the temperature. If the frost is heavy and it’s still cold, do not apply more water as this can just add water that gets frozen, significantly increasing the problem.
Happy winter lawn loving!