Advice: Winter care for your lawn

Most would think that the lawn could potentially be ignored during the Winter months. May I introduce Turf Specialist, Bruce Stephens from Anco Turf who tells us another story! Bruce offers us some great advice just in time to get our lawns ready for Spring.

Melbourne is in the grip of its coldest winter since 1990 and the often neglected lawn sections of our gardens are suffering. As in humans, the cold and wet conditions can lead to a higher incidence of disease and poor health in our lawns. Without careful attention this can lead to ongoing problems.

So what can we do to help get the lawn through and bounce back in Spring?

Winter increases shade issues in the garden with grey skies and the sun being lower in the sky. The best way to reduce shade issues in your lawn is to increase the mowing height. This practice increases the surface area of the leaf and the ability of the lawn to produce chlorophyll through photosynthesis is maximized. This is essential for healthy turf.

Mow Tall Fescue and Buffalo lawns at a minimum of 45mm through winter. Couch and Kikuyu lawns should have the cutting height raised to around 25mm unless in an exposed area without shade.

Winter invariably shows up poor drainage areas and spots. Remedial work on these to increase drainage and compaction will help develop a deeper root system and reduce disease that wet areas harbour.

Grass_3Compaction on wear areas and walkways should be looked at. Aerating with a long pronged garden fork in these spots will reduce compaction and allow surface water to drain. A well-aerated soil profile is essential for healthy root growth and a healthy root system in your lawn will aid in rapid recovery and green up in spring.

As soil and air temperatures start to warm toward the end of August all lawns should be fed with a High Nitrogen lawn food. The newly available nutrients that the lawn food delivers will be essential in the development of new stolons, rhizomes and tillers that are produced by the lawn in spring.

Grass_2The development of moss through winter is usually a sign that your lawn is either compacted or not draining well. Aerate these areas or add drainage if necessary. Clay soils are particularly vulnerable to compaction and should be aerated every autumn and spring. The application of a sand topdressing in early spring and again in autumn following coring or aerating with a garden fork will also help in relieving compaction and thatch development.

Couch, Kikuyu and Soft leaf Buffalo varieties are all warm season grasses and will exhibit various levels of dormancy through winter. To mask the deterioration in colour that is associated with this, an application of Sulphate of Iron can be used. Dissolve 250-300 grams of Sulphate of Iron and apply this over 100 square metres using a watering can or Spray equipment. This will give the dormant turf a slightly darker colour and is known to enhance spring green up.

Blunt mower blades shatter the leaf and provide entry points for disease. Lawns are mown less often in winter and this downtime provides a good opportunity to have your mower serviced. Replace or sharpen those blunt mower blades. Your lawn will love you for it.

The short of it…

Anco Turf
Turf Specialist and Supply
Melbourne and surrounds. National network.