The onset of Winter brings with it challenges for the Home gardener. Lawn types such as Couch and Buffalo usually go into various levels of dormancy in the cooler geographical locations such as Victoria, South Australia and the Southern Highlands. There are many things that you can do to reduce the severity of the dormancy and as strange as it seems winter is an ideal time for some forms of lawn maintenance. You will need some tools to perform the tasks and we have listed our Top Twelve products for Winter Lawn care to get you started.
1. Weeding tools: Winter is the perfect time to get on top of weeds and not affect your lawn grass. Lawn grasses are less affected by chemical applications in winter if the chemical is the correct type and applied at the label rate. Manual removal of weeds is also easier in winter as the damp soil makes it easier to pull the entire root out. Ideal tools include a 1 or 2 litre pump action spray pack for spot spraying and or a Hand Weeder tool.
2. Sharp Mower Blades: In cooler months the mower is used less as lawns do not grow as rapidly. This is the perfect time for that long overdue service of the mower and replacing blunt mower blades. Blunt mower blades shatter the leaf instead of cutting cleanly and this provides a larger entry point for disease to contaminate the plant. Your lawn will always have that ragged fluffy leaf tip when mown with blunt blades. A clean cut makes the appearance of the lawn look better than one that is mown with blunt and damaged blades.
3. Raise Mowing Height: Now is the time to raise the mowing height of your lawn if you didn’t do so in Autumn. Raising the height will prevent scalping from which the lawn won’t recover during the cooler months. Many lawns are shaded in winter and a longer leaf will utilise what light is available better than a lawn that is mown short. If you are not sure of the correct mowing height for your lawn type, refer to our Lawn Care Tips webpage and select your lawn type https://www.ancoturf.com.au/lawn-care-tips
4. Garden Fork: It is surprising how dry the soil beneath a lawn can be when it is compacted from wear during the wet months of winter. Compacted soil profiles don’t allow water and nutrients to penetrate down through the soil and consequently the root system becomes short and will not tolerate the dry and hot periods of Spring and Summer. To ascertain if your lawn has compaction push a Garden Fork into the lawn and if it doesn’t go into the soil easily to a depth of 80-100mm then you probably have compaction. To fix this push the garden fork into the lawn to a depth of at least 100mm and rock it back and forth without breaking through the surface. Do this at 150mm spacings until the entire lawn or the compacted spots have been covered. Here is a short video of how to aerate with a garden fork as well as some other lawn tips. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEDJFiIX-AU
5. Garden Waste / Compost Bin: Always remove clippings when mowing in winter. Decomposing lawn cuttings and leaf matter left on the lawn will create a damp environment that is a breeding ground for disease. Use that catcher that came with the mower. The clippings will make ideal garden compost if cured correctly.
6. Tree Loppers / Secateurs: If it is possible and practical to create more light by pruning your trees, bushes and hedges then do so. The extra light will help the lawns essential photosynthesis process.
7. Fertiliser Spreader: One of the most common problems associated with fertilising lawns is the incorrect application of the product. The simple way to make sure you are distributing the fertiliser evenly and at the correct application rate is to use a fertiliser spreader. It can also be used for applying Lime and other remedial products to the lawn and garden. Hand spreaders are ideal for smaller lawns up to 150 square metres and larger walk behind types will save you time and effort on large lawns. https://www.ancoturf.com.au/product-category/tools-and-equipment/
8. PH Test: To make sure that your lawn can take up nutrients sufficiently, it is essential to have a correct soil PH level. Soil PH is a measure of Acidity or Alkalinity. Ensuring a correct PH level for lawns (6-7) is one of the most important things you can do to maintain a healthy lawn. PH Test kits are cheap and available at Nurseries and some Hardware stores.
9: Soluble Garden Lime: If your soil is acidic then your lawn will rarely look healthy and will not tolerate wear and dry conditions. The addition of Soluble Garden Lime at the correct rate will be beneficial to the uptake of fertilisers. Winter is a good time to apply Lime as the wet weather will aid in its penetration through the soil profile and into the root zone. Applying Lime after aerating the lawn is ideal.
10. Balanced Fertilisers: Lawns are slow to respond to fertiliser applications in Winter. If you have not applied any fertiliser since Summer then you should apply a balanced NPK fertiliser. Fertilisers with some small Iron content however will aid the lawn at this stage of the year. In August the use of a specialist “Combination Pre-emergent and Fertiliser product called Oxafert is ideal for use on DNA Certified Sir Walter Buffalo lawns.” The Pre-emergent herbicide will stop Wintergrass (Poa annua) weed seeds from germinating and the fertiliser component is ideal in aiding Spring Green up when applied in August. https://www.ancoturf.com.au/product/oxafert
11. Dog Rocks: In winter your lawn is slow to recover from Pet damage especially urine burn patches caused by Dog Urine. Dog Rocks have proven to be effective in eliminating this problem in most cases when used as instructed. https://www.ancoturf.com.au/product/dog-rocks-600g/
12. Colour Guard: In winter the drought tolerant grasses such as Buffalo, Kikuyu and Couch go into dormancy. Depending on the severity of the cold weather they can be severely affected and loose colour. A quick and simple remedy to restore colour in your lawn over winter is to apply the new natural pigment Colour Guard. It is easy to apply with a hose connection and will immediately “green up” a lawn turning it from a straw colour to a natural green instantaneously. Here is a video of Colour Guard being applied to Buffalo grass.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsJmu6A1ZoY
Winter provides a perfect opportunity to get things right in the backyard and to prepare for the spring and its associated outdoor activities. With a small amount of effort, you can set your lawn up to be in perfect condition for the sunny good times that lay ahead.