AUTUMN is not the time to forget about your lawn. In fact, autumn is the best time of year to give your lawn some TLC to make it healthy and strong before heading into winter.
With that in mind, here are six tips to do this autumn to help take care of your lawn.
During the cooler months, it’s best not to trim warm-season grasses that grow with runners too short.
Mow with a raised height to let your grass receive more sunshine and nutrients. A longer leaf will also create a thicker canopy that will better block out weeds and keep colour throughout the winter.
During autumn, your grass will still need regular watering. The easiest way to tell if your lawn needs watering is when the leaf blades are withering or losing colour or when a visible footprint mark is left after walking over the grass.
During the autumn, give your lawn a nice, deep soaking once or twice weekly to keep it green as winter approaches. If you’re unsure if you’re giving it enough, use the “screwdriver” test to check the moisture of the soil. Simply press a screwdriver into the soil and if it won’t easily dig in three or four inches, it’s likely your lawn needs more water.
Aerating is an essential autumn job, especially if your soil is compacted or heavy. Below ground, your grass requires space to absorb air, nutrients, and water. The roots of the grass must be able to ‘breathe.’
Aerating the soil helps to de-compact it and lets air and water travel deeper, allowing roots to develop further and generate a more vibrant grass. The primary goal of aeration is to reduce soil compaction. Soil compaction restricts the number of nutrients and water that can reach your lawn’s roots, resulting in concerns including drainage, bare spots, weeds, dryness and fungal disease. High traffic areas are often compacted and require aeration.
Aerating sandals (sandals designed to aerate the grass as you walk through its spikes underneath) or a robust garden fork can be used to manually aerate a smaller area of lawn. Break the soil profile by digging the fork into the lawn and wiggling it back and forth. Aim for a hole spacing of roughly 8–10cm between them. You may need to aerate the area twice, each time in a different direction, in order to accomplish appropriate aeration.
If you have a big area to cover, a spiked roller or a coring machine or aerator can help with lawn aeration. By mixing gypsum, lime, or coarse sand into the profile can increase drainage or pH. This is best done once every 12 months.
Any worn patches can be re-dressed in autumn. Topdressing is usually done to repair lacking and inadequate preparation of soil underlying the grass, as well as to fill in low places and even out uneven areas. You won’t need to apply top dressing if your grass is well fertilised, healthy, and even.
Top treating a lawn that is looking a bit run-down has a number of advantages including reducing the collection of dead stems and grass clippings, sometimes known as ‘thatch.’ It aids in the retention of nutrients, improves drainage, and promotes disease and resistance to pests.
To top dress your lawn, first, mow low with a rotary mower fitted with a catcher. Next, aerate or core your grass, then rake, level, or sweep the top dressing mixture into the profile of the lawn.
Topdress no more than 1cm at a time, leaving the grass tips exposed.
Your lawn’s growing phase slows with the arrival of cooler weather, allowing weeds to take hold. Weeds can outgrow turfgrass during the cooler months, so it’s best to pluck any weeds by hand and use a weed catcher on the mower to catch any weed seeds. Weeds may be controlled by fertilising and watering lawns on a regular basis all year round.
Many little weeds may be gently plucked out by hand, but you must ensure that the roots are destroyed. These roots get larger and stronger as the weed grows. Prying around the roots with a tool like a weeding trowel can assist assure complete removal.
Herbicides that target only certain weeds are known as selective herbicides. A broadleaf herbicide can be used to control common broadleaf weeds such as cudweed, clover, bindii, and creeping oxalis. Bromoxynil, MCPA, and Dicamba are common active ingredients in these products. Only use Bromoxynil-based treatments on buffalo lawns, excluding ST kinds.
Applying a pre-emergent pesticide to selectively eliminate weeds before they emerge is also a good idea to do right now. A pre-emergent herbicide kills weed seeds before they germinate by building a barrier at the soil level that prevents new seedlings from germinating. Summer Grass, Winter Grass, Crowsfoot, and Crab Grass may all be controlled with pre-emergents.
When using herbicides, always wear the proper safety equipment, such as gloves and a mask, observe the label instructions, and double-check that the product won’t damage the grass variety of your lawn.
You can also use organic weed treatments that may be effective against specific weeds. Salt, Boiling water, salt and nonanoic acid are some of these possibilities but take into consideration that they are mostly non-selective and will hurt your grass as well, so spot treatment is the best option.
Autumn is perhaps the most crucial time of year to apply fertiliser, particularly if you have warm-season grass like Couch, Kikuyu, or Buffalo that will be dormant over the winter. If your grass is a little sickly and nutrient-deficient, it will likely be unprepared for the cooler weather and winter weeds, compaction, shade-related concerns will all be a problem as a result of this.
A gentle feed containing poultry or cow manure is a great option. If the soil is acidic, it’s also helpful to put some lime or dolomite to sweeten it; a handful in every square metre is usually enough, but more on really acid soils may be required.
A slow-release fertiliser with micronutrients and trace elements can deliver nutrients to your lawn for up to 12 weeks as it breaks down, replacing some of the vital elements that were probably lost during summer.