Seasonal Turf Care Tips

The following turf management tips have been provided by Australian Lawn Fanatics #auslf.

 

 

Winter Turf Care

  • A lot of lawns will become dormant to semi-dormant throughout winter with up keep becoming minimal (any many partners rejoicing).

 

Spring Turf Care

  • Soon you will start to see a change with the cold weather and shorter days becoming a thing of the past for another year. The daylight hours and temperatures will start to increase which only means one thing. Growth season is on its way.
  • There are no set rules when it comes to, what to do come Spring, it is purely a personal thing. Some people may decide to renovate their lawn others may want to just fertilise and maintain their existing plot.

 

Click on either of the seasonal turf care tabs below. Content provided by Dallas Rusty Garton and Lenny Lawler of Australian Lawn Fanatics #auslf.

  • Mowing in winter will be significantly less during warmer-months, unless you have or have oversown with a cool-season turfgrass like ryegrass.
  • Mowing heights can be slightly raised to allow the plant more leaf to help with better photosynthesis during the shorter days.
  • Renovating procedures are discouraged e.g. scarifying and dethatching.
  • Solid tyne aerating in winter is a perfect time to relieve soil compaction and allow access for nutrients into the root zone.
  • Turf renovations are best undertaken during spring.
  • The use of a slow release fertiliser with a good NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) ratio is integral to plant health during winter with potassium adding plant health and strength to the plant to survive the cooler period.
  • Liquid (foliar) fertilisers are also an advantage during winter.

Watering is best in the morning. Avoid over watering as it can promote fungal disease in your thatch layer and may result in additional frost damage. Generally, this time of year your soil remains moist requiring less irrigation due to reduced (soil) temperatures. Read more on irrigation here...

Winter can produce the onset of weeds e.g. bindii, creeping oxalis, clovers and winter grass (poa). Pre-emergent herbicide should have been applied in autumn to prevent the onset of winter weed pressures.

  • Winter is also a perfect time for machine maintenance as mowing requirements are lessened. Service and maintenance of machinery should be a priority for the season.
  • Pruning any overhanging trees or shrubs will allow more sunlight to your turf during shorter days.
  • Before spring turf renovations, it is a good time to make sure the winter weeds in your lawn have been removed. The last thing you want is those nasty weeds making an appearance after your renovation is complete. Use a quality post-emergent selective weed control herbicide that is suitable for your turf.
  • With the onset of the warmer climate we can be faced with a new array of weeds that tend to thrive if not controlled. If you are renovating your lawn why not look into a pre-emergent herbicide to stop new weed growth? A pre-emergent herbicide can give you peace of mind whilst you enjoy your healthy lawn. Pre-emergents are herbicides that form a residual barrier in your soil and prevent the germination of weed seeds. Remember they are best applied after coring so that barrier isn’t disturbed. Pre-emergents can provide between 4 to 6 months protection. If you are looking at sowing your grass with seed skip DO NOT USE PRE-EMERGENTS as they will prevent any seed germination for obvious reasons. Pre-emergents are not turf specific and come in granular and liquid form.
  • Dethatching is a common simple and effective way of removing dead and decaying organic matter (called thatch) that has built up in the turf sward or canopy. Removal of the thatch helps create easier pathways for air, sunlight, water and nutrients to access the soil.
  • Removal of thatch can be done two ways, machine and or the simple use of a (steel) rake. Of course, a machine is easier and faster but not everyone has the ability to hire machinery locally. If using a rake, put your back into it go your hardest in multiple directions and work up a sweat, bringing all the brown dead organic matter to the surface. Some turf varieties allow you to go crazy and really attack the canopy like green couch. If you have a Buffalograss variety, be mindful your turf does not have rhizomes, therefore don’t go crazy and damage your above ground stolons. Once you’re happy and your canopy free from obstructions jump on your trusty rotary push mower and clean up the dead plant material and loose stolons. Ensure multiple passes with the mower in different directions to remove all possible material debris.

Once your thatch has been removed, or is under control, now it’s time to look at surface and subsoil compaction. Does water simply run off when it rains? Do you have high traffic areas from the kids or dog(s)? If your struggling from hard soil compaction and there is evidence of moss that appeared during winter, now is the perfect time to aerate. Coring or solid tine aeration is best performed by a machine. However, if you have the time and a pitchfork go for your life. Aeration will help with the transfer of oxygen and allow an easy path for nutrients to access the rootzone and aide water retention through the voids that have been formed during aerating.

  • Fertilise once you have aerated your lawn. Fertiliser will enter the voids and provide a quick access to the turf roots. This will allow your fertiliser to start working and allow the plant to uptake the nutrients. Don’t buy just any old bag of fertiliser, ensure you check the NPK and see if the fertiliseris a quick release and or slow release fertiliser. Fertilisers that offer continual feeding for three months are far more beneficial then an instant nitrogen drop (quick release fertiliser). By fertilising in spring you will be feeding the plant everything it needs to help recover from renovations and return it to its former glory before summer kicks in.
  • Do you know what your ph is??? If not, with all the work you’re doing its best to know now that way corrective measures can be put in place. You can get a simple pH test kit from your local garden or hardware store. Knowing your pH allows you to add the right amendments to correct your soil and get you closer to the neutral pH figure of around 6.5 to 7. Additives such as Lime will help increase your pH, whereas Iron Sulphate will help decrease your pH. Gypsum is also another product to look at if your lawn is growing on a heavy clay base.

Don’t undo everything at this stage and forget the prevention of all those turf pests that tend to feed on our lawns through the growing season. The surface is open and access to your soil is at a premium after aeration. It is a good time to spray Acelepryn and create that residual barrier. This will allow the plant to uptake the insecticide and give you protection for up to 6 months. Acelepryn and other insecticides are not turf specific so keep that in mind. Prevention is better than cure.

Topdressing is just as important as any other step and in most cases the most important step in undertaking turf renovations. This is your chance to sort out any imperfections and or undulations in your lawn. What to use? Well that’s completely up to the individual and circumstances as some prefer organic material, some prefer sandy loam soil and some go straight out sand. By now you will have a fair understanding of your profile and what you need. The best is USGA sand that’s blended with amendments. A medium to fine washed sand is also good as it should not contain weed seeds. However, washed sand contains no nutrient content. There are numerous benefits of topdressing with sand, including that it doesn’t compact and allows the water and nutrients to flow freely into the rootzone. The downside of a soil based topdress is you really don’t know what you’re going to get these days and it could well be full of weed seeds.

Hopefully you gave your chariot (aka mower) a service during winter to ensure the blades and or reel are sharp. Regular mowing will increase turf density and maintain plant health. For those that used sand topdressing, a very light water before you mow will keep the sand from ending up in your catcher and or going through your reel. Visit our mowing page for further information and advice.

Watering is not something to be overlooked. The last thing you want after a renovation is it to dry out. Watering times will depend purely on your location and climate. Not one watering schedule fits all suburbs and lawns. You will find the longer and hotter the days the more you need to keep an eye on your lawn and make sure it has the required water and soil moisture. If the weather becomes dry and windy that can be just as bad as a heatwave. Make sure you maintain your watering regularly during recovery then you can possibly move to a deeper less frequent watering schedule. Remember that you can cause as much damage to your turf through over watering as you can under watering. Moisture meters are handy, but nothing beats the ole finger in the soil to feel it for yourself. Visit our irrigation and watering for further information and advice.