The onset of a Melbourne winter brings challenges for lovers of Green Lawns during the colder months. If undertaken now these simple procedures will help get your lawn looking the best in the street.
Humans prepare for cold weather either consciously or otherwise and similarly we should alter our summer and autumn maintenance programs for lawns. We need to give our lawns the equivalent of a Vitamin C dose and a flu injection to prepare them for the onslaught of cold weather.
Just as a bear will feed heavily and gain up to sixty per cent of its body weight in summer and autumn, our lawns rely on the sunny conditions of summer and autumn to build up their reserves for winter.
In the Southern states warm season grasses such as Buffalo, Kikuyu and Couchgrass will slow down their leaf growth as soon as average daily temperatures start to drop into the teens. They will also loose colour intensity in the depths of winter. What we don’t see though is the root system maintaining some activity throughout to keep the plant alive.
Autumn applications of Complete fertilizer blends with balanced NPK Ratios in the autumn will greatly enhance the root system and help with the greening up process in Spring. It’s the lawn equivalent of Vitamin C. This type of fertilizer is sometimes called Lawn Starter.
Do not use a high Nitrogen percentage fertilizer in late autumn as it will soften the leaf and make the lawn more susceptible to cool temperatures, frost and wear. It may even make the loss of colour worse in some instances.
Ensure that all compacted areas are aerated to allow water to penetrate through the soil profile. This process will also aid root development and help drainage prior to the cold and wet conditions that are synonymous with winter. Aerating the soil also decreases the build up of moss and algae on the surface.
The cooler temperatures see humans wearing clothes that keep them warm but what can we do for the lawn. Consider the leaf of the lawn plant to be the equivalent of its clothes and increase the leaf length by adjusting the cutting height on the mower. Longer leaf will provide some protection to the lawn against frost and cool conditions and add to the wear tolerance over winter.
Couch lawns such as Nullarbor also lend themselves well to overseeding with a cool season grass. Couchgrass oversown with Fineleaf Fescue at 2-3kg per 100 square metres will provide a vibrant green lawn even after winter frosts.