The last couple of months have been challenging and hopefully one of the benefits has been that you’ve been out and about enjoying the outdoors. Even though it’s now Winter, there are still lots of lawn activities to do to help your lawn survive the cold winter months.
Having a beautiful lawn in winter isn’t impossible.
You’ve probably got a warm season lawn - most Aussies do - which means that in the warmer weather, your lawn thrives. The downside of this is that when the temperature drops, lawn growth slows and can go into dormancy.
During winter, Aussie lawns tend to lose colour and struggle to repair. This is due to the sun’s position in the sky, increased shade and lower soil temperatures.
But what's the best way to care for your lawn through winter?
Hands off the hose
Over-watering will drastically increase the possibility of turf diseases.
Generally speaking, as the temperature continues to decrease, so should your watering. In fact, in most parts of Australia, winter rainfall should be enough.
Autumn is the best time to prepare your lawn for winter; however, there are still steps you can take during winter to ensure that your lawn doesn’t get the ‘winter blues’:
A higher cut in winter will prolong the colour in the leaf as the longer the leaf the more photosynthesis occurring.
With reduced mowing now is a great time to get the mower serviced. A job that a lot of people neglect is keeping the blades on the mower nice and sharp. Dull blades rip and pull at the grass – you’ll notice little strings attached to the ends of grass blades, where its edges are frayed and damaged, that’s how you know you’re overdue for sharpening your blades! By keeping the mower blades sharp it makes for a cleaner cut and causes less stress to the grass so it can recover quickly.
Deciduous trees are great to have in the garden and provide year–round benefits. These drop their leaves which has the benefit of allowing more sun onto you lawn but if these leaves are not picked up this benefit is quickly lost. If you don’t pick the leaves up, they block sunlight to the grass underneath, hinder the oxygen, water and nutrients from getting where they need to go. In turn this will make the lawn below more susceptible to fungal diseases and pests.
Keep off the grass!! Frost is your grass blades freezing, walking or driving over it results in these grass blades snapping under your feet or car. This can initially be seen as black marks and later brown, dead leaves. If the frost is light, when temperatures start to warm up a light application of water can help to remove the frost quicker and help the plant deal with the shock/stress of the temperature. If the frost is heavy and it shows no signs of lifting, do not apply more water as this can add to the parts to freeze and make it worse.
Controlling Winter Grass
Winter grass, no it’s not a slang term for your lawn during Winter, what we mean is a pesky lime green weed that forms tufted grass clumps throughout your lawn. It is an annual weed that develops in Autumn, grows through Winter and sets seed in Spring. In warm season grasses it can be seen quite easily, often as the greenest patch in your lawn or even the only reason it needs mowing during winter. It’s ability to produce a huge number of seeds has enabled it to spread throughout Australia and many other parts of the world.
Small infestations can be pulled by hand, but if you have let it seed in previous years this could take your whole weekend. The good news is though, for larger infestations Munns Professional Winter Grass Killer, a convenient hose-on pack not only kills early winter grass seedlings, it also protects against future seedlings for months.
Check out our videos on how to use our Munns Professional Winter Grass Killer on your lawn.
Bindii & Broadleaf weeds
During Winter, weeds take advantage of your lawn’s weakened state to fill every possible gap.
Bindii and broad-leaf weeds can be easily controlled with the right herbicides without causing damage to your lawn.
Bindii, that old nemesis that has become an expectation in Australian lawns every Summer. It’s become part of our culture, with thongs riddled with the weed every year. What if I told you this doesn’t have to happen? That you don’t need to be pricked every Summer by the dreaded pest.
Bindii is a Winter annual weed, what that means is it pops up around April and grows till Spring/Summer when it sets seed for the following year. Those seeds have a very beautiful spike which helps them attach to your thongs or feet (ouch) and spread around your lawn. So, June-July is the ideal time to treat. Hit them now and you can enjoy your Summer lawn in bare feet!!
Broadleaf weeds include clovers, dandelions, capeweed, cudweed and thistles.
We recommend using Munns Professional Buffalo Booster Weed and Feed.
One of the biggest mistakes Aussies make is thinking they don’t need to keep watering their lawn during the winter months. If you’ve got a cool season grass, make sure it’s getting a good deep drink once a week – considering any rainfall. Dew doesn’t count as watering as it sits on the surface and most evaporates before it can soak into the soil. It is best to water in the morning, which allows the lawn to dry off during the day and helps reduce diseases. To check if your lawn needs watering look for dry turf symptoms such as stepping on your lawn and if the blades bounce back up then the lawn doesn’t need watering, if they remain flat then the lawn does need to be watered or even better simply cut open with a spade to see if the soil is dry underneath.
The majority of Aussie lawns are warm season grasses that generally go into dormancy around this time of year. As mentioned in last season’s blog, the best time to fertilise your lawn is in autumn in preparation for winter, however, you can give your lawn a good feed around late August, so it can make a strong and healthy comeback for the spring months ahead. If you live in a heavily frost prone area you may need to delay fertilising till late September.
For cool season grasses, like Fescue and Bluegrass, we recommend using Munns Professional Golf Course Green Lawn Fertiliser.
If you’ve got a warm season grass, like Couch or Buffalo, we recommend using Munns Professional Buffalo Booster Lawn Fertiliser.