Autumn Lawn Care
Author: Stefan Palm Date Posted: 18 April 2018
At last - some rain! It seems like such a long time ago that we got any decent rain so now that there is some moisture in the soil and while there is still warmth in the air, its time to get cracking with preparing your lawn for winter.
Autumn is a beautiful time of year for a lawn. With the combination of rainfall and lingering summer warmth, lawns get a chance to recover from a hot, stressful and dry summer. Lawns that were previously brown begin to re-shoot and grow back their lush, green blades. With these ideal environmental conditions, it is the perfect opportunity to prepare your lawn for a much harsher time of year – Winter!
When winter comes around, lawns can start to look ordinary, loose colour and thin out but there are some things that you can do now to make your lawn perform a whole lot better during those cooler months.
Most of us who have lawn these days have a warm season grass. That simply means that your lawn prefers the warmer weather to the cold. When temperatures get over 24 degrees they will actively grow. When temperatures consistently fall under 24 degrees, they begin to go into dormancy. These grasses include kikuyu, couch and buffalo.
Most people associate winter dormancy with brown lawns and although it is a fair assumption to make, there are some things you should know because armed with the right information, you can reduce the effects of winter dormancy on your lawn.
Autumn is the prime time to gear your lawn up for winter. The better you can get your lawn looking in autumn, the better it will be in winter. Once we arrive in winter its all too late to do anything. We’re not talking about a lot of work here either – most of its just understanding how your lawn works.
I would have to say that the most important thing that you can do in autumn is to fertilise your lawn, but not with just any old fertiliser. You’ll need one with high potassium and a little bit of phosphorous and that generally means a mineral type fertiliser rather than an organic one. I can recommend one called Paul Munns Emerald Green.
These two elements do very important things for your lawn, namely:
Potassium (K): Reduces transpiration (loss of water through the blades), so your grass needs less water. It strengthens leaf blades, enabling grass to recover from heavy foot traffic and helps grass withstand cold stress.
Phosphorus (P): Promotes strong root development and winter hardiness. It helps grass withstand environmental stress. Grass well supplied with phosphorus is less likely to become diseased.
Lawns that are fertilised now are better able to cope with the rigours of winter. They will stay greener longer and stand up to frosty conditions better. They will also fight off some of the common fungal diseases more effectively.
Prior to applying you fertiliser, spray out a liquid wetting agent. Not only is it helpful in delivering the nutrients to the roots of the lawn, it will help you best take advantage of Autumn rains. When your soil dries out over summer, it often becomes non wetting meaning it repels water. This means that when the rain does come, it rolls off or doesn’t soak in evenly. Wetting agents solve that problem, immediately making your lawn a happy one when the sky opens up.
Another important consideration for Autumn lawn management is the way you mow your lawn. It's important to raise your mowing height by about 10mm after Easter. By doing this you reduce the likely hood of scalping your lawn through winter. Scalping is where you dis-colour your lawn by mowing it too short. While this won’t pose a problem during spring and summer, if you scalp your lawn during late autumn and winter it won’t regain its colour till spring.
There are other things to take care of in Autumn such as coring to resolve winter drainage issues, light applications of gypsum, moss and algae control and over sowing if you have any bare patches.
If you take care of these simple things during Autumn, you will find that your lawn will stay greener for longer during winter .