Preparing your lawn for winter

Author: Stefan Palm   Date Posted: 2 May 2019 

Its finally raining! Adelaide’s Autumn weather has been more than unusual this year. After an incredibly long dry spell, Adelaide has had a rain event worth writing about. What does it mean for your lawn?

The steady rain will bring much needed relief for Adelaide’s gardens. Months of dry weather have left many soils dry and water repellant. Steady rain will help to completely and deeply saturate the soil which will result in a release and filtering down of nutrient in the soil. If you’ve fertilised in the last few weeks, this rain event will result in the nutrient travelling deep into the soil.  With soil temperatures higher than they would normally be at this time of year, you can expect to see some greening and repairing in lawns that are tired from battling the long, hot, dry summer.

Over the next few weeks, as the weather cools, your lawn will start to slow down and go into winter dormancy. With this in mind, what should you do now to make sure your lawn stays healthy and green during winter?

Raise your mower height

One thing you should do soon is 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 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.

Fertilise

Another thing you can do if you haven’t already is fertilise your lawn. While it is late in the season to be fertilising, you will still get some results. 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

Get ready for the weeds

The rain and imminent cooler weather will undoubtedly bring on a flush of weeds. Be ready to knock them down with some selective herbicide as soon as they appear so that they don’t become dominant. For broadleaf weeds, I’d suggest a selective herbicide called Amgrow Bin Die for the best results while having the least impact on the environment.

Adjust your watering schedule

As the weather cools down, you won’t need to water as much. If you have an automated irrigation system, reprogram your computer to compensate for the extra rain around – you don’t want to over do the water in Autumn and 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 you can.


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