Preparing your lawn for winter

Author: Stefan Palm   Date Posted: 8 May 2018 

As we get into the later part of Autumn, you may have noticed your lawn starting to slow down. With this in mind, what should you do now to make sure your lawn stays healthy and green during winter?

If you have a warm season grass (ie couch, kikuyu or buffalo), as the weather gets cooler your lawn will start going into winter dormancy. Warm season grasses grow during the warm weather and virtually stop growing during the cold weather. There are some things that you can do now to prepare your lawn for winter to ensure it stays as healthy and green as possible.

Raise your mower height

One thing you should do now is raise your mower height – by one notch. This will leave more blades present on your lawn which will add to the overall “greenness”. It will also make it a lot less likely for you to scalp your lawn. Scalping is where you cut your lawn too low, effectively removing all the blades and leaving those familiar brown swirl marks from your mower. During the warm weather, your lawn will quickly recover from this because it is actively growing but because your lawn will virtually stop growing during the winter, it won’t be able to grow back any new blades till spring.  My advice to you is within the next few weeks, raise your mower height by one notch and keep it on this setting till the end of September. As soon as Spring starts,  take it down to where it was prior to winter.


Another thing you can do if you haven’t already is fertilise your lawn. Fertilising in Autumn helps your lawn stay greener in winter but it also gives your lawn some extra nutrient to store up during the winter months which gives it something to get started on when it comes out of dormancy.  This really makes a difference in the spring. Use a mineral fertiliser high in potassium such as Paul Munns Emerald Green

Adjust your watering schedule

The remainder of May is forcast to be relatively dry however when consistent rain does arrive, remember to adjust your watering system. If it’s automated, reprogram your computer to compensate for the extra rain around – you don’t want to over do the water in winter as it will only lead to problems.

Rake off the Autumn Leaves

If your lawn is under a deciduous tree, rake up the leaves regularly. Excessive amounts of leaves can shade out your lawn but they can also encourage mosses and algaes to grow which isn't ideal for your lawn.  

Outside of these things, your lawn will most likely take care of itself during winter with very little input from you. While warm season grasses go dormant during winter, they should not go brown (except if exposed to frost).  If you do happen to notice irregular areas of lawn dying off, take a core sample and bring it down to us as soon as possible. This is not normal, even for winter and should be attended to.

Comments (3)

What lawn seed to plant & when?

By: on 9 September 2018
I live in the Adelaide Hills and need to fill in/repair a grassed area (a 'pretend' lawn). Last summer a lot died off and there were bare patches of soil - the grassed area has regrown this winter but I would like to repair again with a summer grass that will survive the heat. Is Kikuyu the grass seed to use or what can you recommend? And when do I re-seed, is it later when the soil temperature has increased?

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hi Bev, Thanks for your comments and questions. You're on the right track - I would recommend Kikuyu lawn seed as it is very hard wearing and drought tolerant. Kikuyu is a warm season grass so It is best sown any time from now onward.

Feeding new kikuyu lawn

By: on 11 June 2018
I live in the Adelaide Hills and had a new kikuyu lawn laid about 6 weeks ago. It has taken root ok but yellowing off now with some frost burn. I read to fertilise 6 weeks after laying new turf. Should l fertilise now or is it too late with winter here? Thanks

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hi Brenton, It is not unusual to get frost burn on Kikuyu at this time of year and it would probably be presenting as more severe given that the lawn is not properly established yet. Fertilising at the 6 week mark is the right thing to do except during winter. Because the grass is in dormancy, it wont take it up. I'd suggest waiting till spring before feeding again. Regards, Stefan

question for a compacted struggling lawn

By: on 26 May 2018
Hi there is it too late to core a kikuyu lawn and to give a covering of sand? If so when is the best time to do this? Thanks Tony Milligan

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hi Tony, You could core your lawn now to alleviate drainage issue however any top dressing you apply would have to be light - only enough to fill the core holes. This is because Kikuyu will spend the winter in dormancy and wont appreciate being buried! The best time of year for top dressing is October through to March.

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