The average Aussie lawn can be just hanging on at this time of year after a long-hot-summer; especially the one experienced by much of the country this year. Heatwave after heatwave, more time outdoors, family barbeques, backyard games with sprinklers, slip ‘n’ slides, cricket . . . and inadequate watering and maintenance, can all have effects on compaction, soil health and fertility and ultimately your lawn’s vigour and appearance at the end of summer. Many of Lawn Solutions Australia Turfgrowers say that autumn is about the best time of the year for them to more easily achieve peak condition in their turf, with lower temperatures, the grass still growing and the plant having all that stored energy from summer. Much of the work to keep it looking good right through to winter starts now and in the following tips we’ll explain how:
If you’ve got a thatch issue going on, it’s a great time now to get in a couple of low-mows in before your growth slows to a stop and if you miss the opportunity now, the other best time of year is at the end of spring. A study carried out by the University of Western Australia a few years’ ago, compared different types of renovation for turf and they found that the results from a ‘hard-mow’ or ‘scalping’ was just as good as scarifying, coring, or grooming when it came to dethatching a lawn. This should only be done a couple of times a year and works only for warm-season grasses (Buffalo, Kikuyu, Couch and Zoysia) and should be avoided for cool-season types – fescue and the likes as this practice will probably spell the end of your lawn. If your law feels ‘spongy’ to walk on then it may be time for such drastic action, but keep in mind that for much of the country you’ve only got a few weeks to ‘get-stuck-into-it’ before it starts to cool off and your lawn doesn’t grow. Attempt it too late and your lawn won’t recover over winter, so if you’re unsure, seek some good advice from your local Lawn Solutions Centre or similar.
After a demanding summer, many lawns have lost some condition, become compacted through wear, especially with pets and kids and may look a bit worse-for-wear following summer weed infestation. To see how your soil is holding up and whether compaction is a problem, grab a long screwdriver and plunge it into the ground in a few places to see how far it will penetrate (minding any irrigation or electrical cabling). You should be able to easily push it in for up to 100 to 150mm (4-6 inches) without too much resistance and if not it would serve your lawn well to look at aeration to remedy the problem.
The trick here is to try and clean-up any weeds before they go to seed and create problems again for you down the track. One of the best way to reduce weeds is to have a healthy lawn so it literally smothers them out so look at the basics before you turn to the spray bottle. Check your soil, aerate and topdress if necessary, mow regularly and fertilise to keep your lawn healthy and if weeds are still an issue either hand-weed or look at a selective herbicide that’s safe for your lawn – Lawn Solutions Australia has a number of weed killers suited to a range of weed types.
The end of summer is the perfect time to start lifting your mower height. Contrary to much information bandied about, a lower-leaf-height over summer is actually more water-efficient for your lawn than a longer leaf that is often recommended, as recent research has found that the shorter leaf offers less surface area for evaporation and reduces sun-damage to the grass leaf. It is this time however that you can start to increase the height of your lawn in order to encourage a healthy deep thatch and matt area and long luscious leaf. You’ll see this on many footy fields around the country as mast sports-turf curators start to lift the mower-height at this time of the year to get a more healthy and robust cushion of turf in readiness for damaging winter sports.
Sometimes it may seem easier not to worry about a round of fertiliser after summer, but it’s the time of the year your lawn will do well with it and keep it in better health on the way into winter. Look at a balanced fertiliser with micro-nutrients and trace elements that will replace some of the things lost over summer. Another tip from the experts is to look at a colourant at this time of year as well as fertiliser. A natural, organic-based-colourant like Colourguard from Lawn Solutions Australia will give you an instant green-up that offers a natural-looking colour and at the same time extend your lawns growing period by a few weeks heading into winter. Lawncare doesn’t need to be difficult and simple hints from Lawn Solutions Australia and their network of member turf growers and Lawn Solutions Centres Australia-wide can help with products to keep your lawn in top condition this autumn.