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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Seasonal Lawn/Turf care.

Autumn / Winter Lawn preparation.

Following simple lawn care steps will ensure that your lawn survives even the toughest of winters.

The winter season can be hard on lawns and grassed areas. Even though most turf grasses are tough and deep rooted, even the healthiest lawn is vulnerable to fungal disease, compaction from vehicle and foot traffic, un-seasonal dry periods, frost damage and sunburn.

Patches of browning and yellowing areas in your lawn are signs of these problems and will become more obvious as spring growth starts and these effected patches refuse to grow.

Most of these problems can be avoided by following some easy steps to protect your lawn and prevent ongoing problems associated with poor lawn care.

The most important measure to take in winter is the removal of all leaf matter from the lawn area. Leaves left on the ground / lawn will get damp and turn into a mat on the lawn, these wet leaves will kill the grass beneath them, as well as provide an environment for fungal disease to grow.

Clean up leaves either by raking them up and adding the leaves to your compost pile/bins, or mulch mowing the leaves so they are broken up finely, the mulched leaves will break down much easier and return directly into the top soil layer (Recommended for large properties).

Aerating soils and over seeding lawn during early autumn will help strengthen and invigorate lawns. Broad cast seed by hand or distribute seed using a seeding machine/spreader. By doing this you will increase lawn thickness and provide new healthy spring growth that is more disease and pest resistant.

An application of high phosphorus winter fertiliser just as the weather gets cold in late autumn, follow up two weeks later with an application of lime on soils that are high acid (Never fertilise and lime at the same time). The application of lime will help stimulate root growth. The roots on most grasses continue to grow even as the top growth has slowed down.

On the last cut before winter really kicks off, mow grass at a height of approximately 4-5 cm. If you leave the grass any taller it will tend to cause the grass to fall over in wet and frosty situations, forming matted clumps of grass that can harbor fungal disease.

Watering is also essential to your lawns health during Autumn/Winter. When rainfall is lower through the autumn and winter months, the soils can dry out considerably. Water your entire lawn to increase moisture content in soil for over winter. Generally soils that are moist to a depth of 15cm are perfect. Take care not to over water your lawn as this may lead to further problems with soil structure. During dry periods water at least every 7-10 days. Avoid walking on saturated grass as this will cause compaction of soils and turns lawn into soggy, muddy, sludge. Provide clearly marked paths and driveways for pedestrians and motorists.

Areas of your lawn that have become compacted over winter can be aerated before the weather warms up and growth starts. Use a garden fork to aerate the soil and keep foot traffic off the aerated areas.

Following these basic guidelines will help you produce stunning, lush, green lawns all year round.

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