Maintaining your yard requires dedication, and with the winter chill fast approaching, most homeowners also tend to also chill with regard to their lawn duties and skip everything until spring comes in. Although it’s true that lawns hibernate and are less demanding during the cooler seasons, there are still a few tasks that you shouldn’t skimp on if you want a winter “wonderlawn” that will save you a lot of trouble once the temperature gets warmer!
Without further ado, here are seven things to add and tick off your winter checklist for a greener, healthier lawn:
1) Feed Your Lawn
Warm-season grasses make up the majority of lawns in Australia. These varieties are only semi-dormant in the winter and although growth slows down when the soil temperature drops below 14°C, they still have the capacity to absorb nutrients.
Acquire specialised winter fertilisers that are rich in Iron to improve the leaf colour, and contains less Nitrogen to avoid unnecessary growth. Feed your lawn around May so it would be ready to enter the cold season and apply another round in July for sustenance.
Remember to read and follow instructions on the fertiliser package and apply the recommended amount. Doing so will ensure a bouncier lawn comes spring!
2) Aerate Your Lawn
Australian summers can be very harsh and can jump from warm to very hot. The cooler temperature brought by fall is a real relief but may not be immediately so for your lawn! The dry spells can dehydrate and cause soil compaction underneath the grass that inhibits nutrient uptake and water penetration come the cooler seasons.
Introduce air and allow water to penetrate your grass by aerating the lawn which is the process of making holes through the turf. It can be done manually with a pitchfork or a motorised aerator.
The more aeration you do before winter, the more verdant your lawn would be after. It also helps break the extra thatch and prevents fungal growth. If you haven’t had the chance to aerate in the warmer months, you can catch up on the task as long as the ground isn’t frozen. It is recommended to aerate at least 2-3x in winter!
3) Seed Your Lawn
– Feeding will help nourish your grass throughout winter but it can’t do anything to the bald spots already on your lawn. Seeding will repair these bare patches and also inhibit soil erosion and compaction, so literally sprinkle some TLC!
Fall is the best time to do this, but early winter works too. Make sure to water these areas so you’re left with a healthy, thriving yard.
4) Mow Your Lawn
Mowing shouldn’t stop just because growth slows down in winter, although it would definitely be less frequent. In areas where it snows, don’t leave your grass long. Gradually lower the cutting height of your mower so you can cut your grass shorter without shocking it. This will prevent the blades from folding on itself and dying when the frost comes in.
Otherwise, mow higher at least once a month and trim just the grass tips (not lower than 2.5cm) to leave a larger surface area on the blades which promotes photosynthesis. This will block out weeds and help the lawn retain its colour longer. However, don’t let the blades grow over 6cm or it will prevent sunlight from nourishing the whole grass profile.
Switch to catching clippings instead of mulching because the grass cuttings left on the lawn may cause fungal problems and suffocate the freshly trimmed blades. Also, Winter is the best time to service your mower. Never mow with a dull blade!
5) Weed Your Lawn
Your lawn may hibernate but the nasty weeds competing with your grass take no time to rest at all and they also tend to thrive in cold and wet weather! Ignoring these troublesome plants would allow them to crowd out your green turf and suck nutrients that should otherwise sustain your lawn.
Schedule a weekly weeding plan or use weed killers on larger areas. Make sure to spray them during winter, particularly bindiis, if you don’t want to be left with a brown, weed-infested lawn in Spring.
6) Rake and Clean up your Lawn
Removing obstructions on your yard will help create your wonderlawn! Frequent raking exposes your turf to maximum sunlight and breaks up soil clumps, helping aerate the root system. It’s also a great way to prep your lawn for seeding.
Additionally, raking prevents uneven grass, dead spots, and molds since a build-up of autumn leaves and other debris block sunlight and weigh down the grass when they are soaked with water or buried in snow.
It’s also a good time to trim your trees to prevent too much shade. Don’t forget to move outdoor play equipment regularly or simply remove them to avoid killing the grass underneath!
7) Water Your Lawn… Or Not!
Since your lawn is unlikely to dry out during winter, water only when needed. You can tell it’s time once you start leaving footprint marks on the grass. The leaves will also begin to curl.
You can give it a good soaking early in the morning, while the sun is not yet out, at least once or twice a week if you’re seeding or returfing. This can also remove the frost from the blades to avoid discolouration. Otherwise, twice a month can help your yard maintain its water reserves.
Overwatering the lawn leaves it vulnerable to fungi and diseases, and can also encourage compaction. Always be on the lookout!
It may seem like a lot of work, but trust us that it will definitely be worth it! Winterising your yard will help you happily welcome Spring. Even better, you can leave this checklist on the hands of our ever-reliable lawn professionals so you can chill through winter and be guaranteed to enjoy your lush, green wonderlawn!
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