Is it still OK to lay instant turf during winter?

Author: Stefan Palm   Date Posted: 15 May 2024 

At this time of year as the weather cools down, a lot of folks want to know if its still OK to lay instant turf now and into Winter? It's a very good question and one that needs some explaining.

Most people who have maintained a lawn in the past know that the common types of lawns in Adelaide, such as Couch, Kikuyu and Buffalo, slow down as the weather becomes cooler. They need less mowing, they stop spreading, and essentially go to sleep.  This is because they are seasonal varieties and do most of their active growth during the warmer months. Cooler weather triggers their dormant time, which typically lasts from late May through till the end of August.  It seems unintuitive to roll out turf when it's dormant, which is why people naturally question the practice.  

People often ask, Can you roll out turf when it's dormant? Will it damage it? Will it kill it?  Straight off the bat, I can tell you that when it comes to rolling out turf in Adelaide, cold weather won't damage or kill it, so the answer is an absolute YES you can - It's better than looking at mud all Winter!  There are, however, there are some measures that you will need to take to look after it so that when Spring arrives, it will be in good shape.  

As I mentioned earlier, when lawns go dormant, they more or less stop growing. They stop growing on top, and they also stop growing in their root zone. This means that a turf laid in Winter won't establish and root in till Spring. Don't be concerned with this, though - the turf sods will happily sit there all Winter, but it's important to know this because it will help you understand why the following measures are important:

Minimise usage because it is dormant.

If you plant a lawn during Winter, it’s usually for cosmetic or water erosion purposes. Because it’s dormant, it won’t do much growing or establishing, so try to stay off it and restrict access to pets. Keep in mind that if it gets damaged or worn, it won’t repair itself till Spring.

If it doesn’t rain, you’ll need to regularly water it

Just because it's winter, it would be easy to think that you don’t need to water your new lawn. Remember that because it's dormant, it won’t be sending any roots into your topsoil till Spring. This means that it can still dry out reasonably quickly. It’s not a big deal because it will usually rain enough to keep the lawn happy, but it’s something to keep your eye on just in case there is a dry spell.

The exception…. The exception to this rule is that I would avoid laying turf in frosty hills areas during Winter due to the extremely cold nature of those areas. Excessive or heavy frost can freeze the turf sod, which can lead to complications.

If you’re considering laying turf during the Winter months, you’re probably just looking for ways to make that muddy area look good or to reduce water erosion or stop mud from being tracked into the house. Although it’s not the best time of year to do it, it can be done with confidence, knowing it will establish properly when Spring arrives.

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