The chill of winter brings with it several challenges for the home gardener hoping to keep their lawn looking good over the course of our coldest season.
The warm-season grasses such as Buffalo, Kikuyu and Couch all suffer from the cold weather. They exhibit various levels of discolouration caused by their naturally occurring dormancy at this time of year. The level of dormancy is related to geographical location.
Cool-season grasses such as Tall fescue and Ryegrass slow down their growth in winter but keep their colour. They can be more susceptible to some diseases in the winter due to moist conditions, waterlogged soils and low levels of light.
With care, the home lawn can make it through the winter in reasonable shape and be ready to burst out of dormancy at the first sign of warmer weather, sunshine and the extra daylight hours that accompany spring.
Lawns are more susceptible to certain diseases in winter. Slimy and or browning of leaf in patches can be a sign that the lawn is infected with a disease and the use of a fungicide will help it to recover. Products such as Mancozeb work well on various diseases and are available in domestic pack sizes.
Cooler temperatures and damp conditions are ideal for Wintergrass (Poa annua), and this weed can invade a home lawn rapidly. Take care not to spread the seed of Wintergrass from one lawn to another by washing down the mower after using it on a lawn containing weeds. Mow the clean lawn before mowing the nature strip or an infected lawn. Wash down the mower before putting it away. If you have existing Wintergrass, it can be controlled by using Wintergrass Killer.
Another very effective control for Wintergrass is a product called Monument. Monument will kill most grass weeds.
Winter is the ideal time to eradicate broadleaf weeds such as clovers, Oxalis and flat weeds, including Capeweed before they seed. These weeds can be selectively controlled by using a product called Bin-Die.
Prior to Spring in late August, an application of a combination fertiliser and Pre-emergent herbicide called Oxafert is ideal. Oxafert will control the early spring bloom of winter grass while feeding the lawn at a time when it will benefit from applying fertiliser. The Pre-emergent herbicide in Oxafert will kill the germinating weed seeds before they get a chance to shoot and will not harm Buffalo and Kikuyu lawns. Apply at the label rate and read the instructions before using to determine if your lawn is suitable for its use. Oxafert comes in a pellet form and is easy to spread.
If your lawn has turned a straw colour after the frosts and cold weather of winter, you can green it up using a pigment called Colour Guard. Available in a clip-on hose pack or as a concentrate, Colour Guard is a simple-to-use product that will instantly give your lawn a natural green grass colour over winter and transition out when the grass starts to break dormancy.
With a little winter care your lawn will bounce back rapidly this spring and be the showpiece of your garden.