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. 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 Golf Course Green Organically Enriched Lawn Fertiliser or Munns Golf Course Green Granulated Slow Release 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. It’s a relatively simple task, but it might take a few attempts to fully master the technique. Below is a basic 5-step guide for sharpening your mower blades:
Tip: Before you begin, remove the spark plug because any motor rotation during the operation could start the engine.
1. Remove the blade
Undo the bolt holding the blade secure – they can be a bit stiff if they’re rusted, so apply some lubricant to the problem area, wait for a few minutes and the bolt should be loose enough to be removed with relative ease.
Tip: Before you remove the blade, mark it with spray paint so you can reinstall it correctly. If you don’t put it in the right way the blade won’t cut!
2. Examine blade
Check the blade for any rust or excessive wears to determine whether to sharpen or replace it. If there is minor rust on the blade, simply remove using steel wool.
Tip: It’s always a good idea to keep a second blade on hand at all times, that way you can rotate between the two and you always have one ready to go!
3. Sharpen the blade
We recommend sharpening with a hand file for maximum control of your handiwork. Angle grinders work well and are much faster, but if you’re not experienced you risk overheating the metal and damaging the blade.
If the blade is badly damaged, you will have to use a grinder or have it professionally sharpened.
4. Check blade balance
Simply balance the blade from its centre point using a nail tacked to the wall. If one side dips, file more off that side (not from the cutting edge) until it sits horizontally.
5. Reinstall blade
Reinstall the blade the same way it was mounted before and tighten. A loose blade will throw off the engine timing and make your mower more difficult to start, so make sure it’s tight enough!
Blades should be checked approximately every 6 months.
Happy winter lawn loving!