Preparing your lawn for winter
Author: Stefan Palm Date Posted: 9 May 2023
As the weather cools down, you'll notice that your lawn slows down too, and may even lose some colour. This is perfectly normal, however, there are some things that you can do now to preserve as much colour as possible for the long winter ahead.
Soil temperatures across Adelaide have dropped to around 15 degrees, and with soil temperature being the trigger for lawns to enter dormancy, it won't be long before they have dialled out for the winter.
So what does this mean for your lawn?
How your lawn looks now will depend largely on how you maintained it through Summer and early Autumn. Once ambient temperatures consistently fall into the teens, your opportunity to improve its health and colour diminishes considerably. Over the course of this week, while temperatures hang in the low 20s, you have a small window to do a few things to ensure your lawn stays as good as it can now and through the Winter months. I'd recommend the following:
One of the best things you can do for your lawn in Autumn is to fertilise it. It's best done during April, but there is still something to be gained from doing it now, this week. You won't get much of a greening effect now, but you will still get some results. Your lawn will store some of the nutrients you apply, giving it something to get started on when it comes out of dormancy. This really makes a difference in Spring. Use a mineral fertiliser high in potassium, such as Paul Munns Emerald Green
Before you mow your lawn again, raise your mower height – by one notch. This will leave more blades present on your lawn which will add to its 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. During the warm weather, your lawn will quickly recover from this because it is actively growing, but because your lawn will virtually stop growing over the next few weeks, it won’t be able to grow back any new blades till Spring. My advice is to raise your mower height by one notch and keep it on this setting till the end of September. As soon as the warm weather arrives, take it down to where it was prior to Winter.
It's best to monitor rainfall through the Winter and adjust your irrigation schedule accordingly. In most instances, you can turn your irrigation system off. Over-watering can cause waterlogging that lawns really don't appreciate!
Because it's been so dry, weed activity hasn't been as big a deal as it has in past years. Weeds are still germinating - just not as prolifically. Ironically, there are people still applying their first application of pre-emergent herbicide as late as last week, which is virtually unheard of at this time of year. If you have weeks like Winter Grass germinating, then it is too late for pre-emergent control; however, you might still consider it if you've only had light germination, as it will stop a bigger flush of weeds later on in Winter. I'd recommend a new pre-emergent herbicide called Spartan. For broadleaf weeds, use Amgrow Bin-Die but get onto spraying as soon as you see weeds emerge. It's much easier to control young weeds than it is to control them when they are mature.
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 algae to grow, which isn't ideal for your lawn.
At the end of the day and as a function of dormancy in lawns, you can still expect some colour loss but you can certainly limit it by considering the things I've talked about here in this blog. If you have any questions, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 8298 0555. We'd be glad to help
On a side note, one other question we get asked a lot at this time of year is, "Is it too late in the Autumn to roll out instant turf?" The short answer is - no, it's not too late! I'll cover the question much more comprehensively in my blog on 26/5/23.