Autumn - A great time to rejuvinate tired lawns

Author: Stefan Palm   Date Posted: 5 March 2016 

At this time of year, after the heat of summer has passed, the humble home lawn can often look a little worse for wear. Lawns that have had little or no water over summer and have had to largely fend for themselves will benefit from a little extra attention, if they are to fully recover before winter. Autumn is a great time of year to do this with the combination of milder weather and maybe even a bit of rain! With that in mind…..

What are the options available for lawns that no longer look lovely?  Should you restore or replace?


Aim: Remove the weeds and fill resulting spaces with drought tolerant grass.

This is a good option when:

  • The existing lawn comprises of a drought tolerant grass such as couch, buffalo or kikuyu
  • There is sufficient topsoil (100mm or more) of reasonable quality to allow drought tolerant grasses to take full advantage of their deep water seeking roots
  • At least 50 percent of the area is covered with lawn grass in reasonable condition.


Spray the area with a broad leaf selective herbicide.   This type of herbicide kills broad leaf weeds such as dandelions, clover, thistles etc but does not harm drought tolerant grasses.  For buffalo lawns, check the product you buy is suitable for this grass.

Two weeks after spraying, cultivate the patches and remove any remaining weed growth.  Add a well-made compost or commercial soil compost improver plus a lawn fertiliser (half a cup per square metre).  Incorporate this into the top 10 cm.

Re-sow any bare areas using an ‘over-sow’ lawn blend.  This contains quick growing ryegrass that provides temporary cover while the existing grasses spread and cover the ground.

If the patches are large, consider buying rolls of instant turf from a lawn specialist.  Cut these into 20 x 20cm sections (or smaller) and plant into the bare sections spaced 20cm apart. Finally, spray the whole area with a liquid wetting agent to ensure that the whole are absorbs water evenly – that way your lawn will take the best advantage of all the water that comes its way.


Aim: Establish a completely new lawn by sowing seed or laying instant turf.

This is the best option when:

  • All or most of the existing lawn is dead
  • The topsoil is less than 10cm deep or comprises hard setting clay or sand that does not retain moisture (i.e. is water repellant).


  • Remove any existing lawn grasses and all weeds by spraying the area with glyphosate (such as Roundup or Zero). This is a non-selective weedicide that will kill all grasses and weeds.  Replanting is possible 14 days after spraying even though the weeds may not look completely dead.
  • If soil depth needs building, spread a lawn loam (80 percent coarse washed sand, 20 percent loam) and incorporate by rotary hoeing.
  • If the soil quality needs improving, for clay soils, add gypsum (1kg to the square metre) plus composted organic matter. Incorporate by rotary hoeing.

For sandy soils, add organic compost and rotary hoe.

Of the two options given here, in our experience, most lawns can be restored back to full health with a bit of patience and TLC. Give it a go – you might be surprised at the results. Remember… If you have any questions or need a lawn problem solved, give us a call on 8298 0555 or send an email to

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