There are a few hints and tricks to keeping your lawn in good condition over the cooler months.
Hopefully you gave your lawn a good fertilising during autumn, to give it a boost prior to the cooler months. If not then it’s probably too late to do too much now unless you’re in the tropics. Soil reactive fertilisers such as synthetic granular fertilisers like the Lawn Solutions Australia Premium Fertiliser, or organic fertilisers like Dynamic Lifter, require a soil-borne reaction from the bacteria in the soil. The bacteria are needed to convert the nutrients from the fertilisers to a plant-ready form, such as Nitrogen to nitrate. These bacteria however, tend not to like the cold either, so ground temperatures below 14°C will see them sneak off into hibernation. So avoid fertilising during winter, as it will simply be a waste of time and money.
Over winter, you shouldn’t need to water your lawn too much, if at all. So switch off your timers and simply water on an as-needed basis. You will know if your lawn is dry as the leaves will curl, in which case, give it a drink, otherwise it’s best to leave it be. You don’t want to put excess moisture into the soil if you can avoid it, as this will only encourage compaction. If you are super keen to keep as much colour as possible though, you can give your lawn a very light watering just before the sun comes up in the mornings, to remove frost from the leaf.
During winter, your mower will get to take a bit of a break, as you’ll be best to leave extra length on the leaf, especially in shaded areas. Leaving your lawn on the long side will mean there is extra leaf area for photosynthesis, which will help to keep your lawn healthier and hold out those pesky winter weeds. It’s a good time of year to perform a bit of maintenance on your trusty mower, like sharpening the blades ready for spring time dethatching.
Compaction can be a bit of a problem over winter, particularly in high wear areas, or if you have a bit of wet weather. Try to avoid traffic on your lawn wherever possible, or regularly aerate any areas which cannot be avoided to help loosen the soil. The same applies after heavy rains, particular if water tends to pool or the soil gets a bit waterlogged. This will help the air get to the root zone, allowing your lawn to breathe and avoid suffocation in heavy compacted soil.
Winter is the time when those nasty weeds may appear, as the growth habit of your lawn won’t be as tight as during the warmer months. Make sure you spray them during the winter, particularly bindii, as if they’re allowed to seed, they will return again bigger and better down the track. Broadleaf weeds, bindii and clover can be controlled using Bin-die Selective Weeder or Lawn Solutions Australia All Purpose Weed Control. Invasive grasses on the other hand, such as Winter Grass, will need to be eradicated using a specialised product such as Winter Grass Killer.
Finally, just remember, if your lawn is a warm season grass, you should expect some loss of colour. The degree will vary according to the aspect of the lawn and your climate. Frost will tend to cause the leaves to brown, and areas such as the nature strip which are exposed to the elements will generally lose more colour than a backyard which are protected by fencing and gardens. In any case, just remember, spring is just around the corner!!