Friday, 17 May 2013

Winter Lawn Care


Temperatures are decreasing and that cool morning dew can have a damaging effect to your lawn. Yet as we drive around town, we can’t help but notice that for many other lawn owners, the concept is merely a myth. The proof is seen in lush green carpets of lawn at a time when many other lawns are in a state of decline, lacking in colour, bare patches and thinning out of the thatch layer. So what’s the secret, what are these miraculous gardeners doing in Winter that you’re not, that can produce results of such stunning diversity?

Why Winter Is A Problem For Lawns

For most lawn owners in Australia, we grow Warm Season Grasses for use as our lawns, which means in warmer weather, the grasses thrive, and as the weather cools, they go into a state of very slowed growth or in some cases, a state of semi-hibernation. Without the rapid and regular growth associated with warmer weather, grasses will lose their darker colour, and will become slower to re-grow and repair damage. As the position of the sun changes and increases shade, and when combined with lower daylight hours and a massive reduction in direct sunlight and lower soil temperatures, lawns will generally be at their most vulnerable and unable to repair or maintain good health.

The Secret To A Beautiful Lawn In Winter

A beautiful lawn in Winter is created in Autumn, PRIOR to the onset of Winter

That’s the secret! And it’s very simple. Once Winter arrives, there is very little if anything at all that can be done to bring a lawn to good health, or to maintain it there if the grass wasn’t already in maximum health prior to Winter arriving.

The Steps To Increasing Lawn Health In Autumn

Realise and be aware of the importance of the lead-up to Winter as being the only time to create a beautiful Winter lawn and act accordingly.

Increase Mowing Heights

As daylight hours decrease so does the ability of lawns to photosynthesise, by increasing mowing heights and leaving more green leaf we increase the food supply to the grass. This step is essential, and taking the mower up a notch or two should suffice. Decrease Watering as Air and Soil Temperatures Decrease Over watering at this time of year can increase the possibility of turf diseases or rotting of the thatch layer.

Treat Wintergrass

If you had the scourge of Wintergrass last year, you’ll have it again this year, and it’s continuing existence can choke the root system of your lawn throughout the year. Wintergrass must be treated when it’s young, and the very best time to treat it is pre-emergent. That means knowing that Wintergrass will soon emerge and killing it before it is even seen. Wintergrass can be treated pre-emergent from May.

Fertilise Properly

This means having a plan for fertilising at the right times with the right fertilisers. Put down a high quality Winter Fertiliser in May prior to Winter arriving. The next application of Winter fertiliser should be in July, 8 weeks later. Apply to manufacturers recommendations and do not increase amounts or frequencies. Winter fertilisers contain higher levels of Iron which is essential for good lawn health through Winter.

Winter Weeds

Generally broadleaf weeds will become more prominent in Winter as conditions for their survival improve, and as the ability for the lawn to fight against them decreases, treat them early.

Pruning

Overgrown trees and bushes will dramatically increase their shade levels in Winter, and by the time we notice that our lawn has started dying in affected areas, it too late to repair the damage. Plan ahead and prune in Autumn.