The weather is getting cooler. The days are getting shorter. The first signs of winter are rearing their head. Autumn is on its way.
The performance of your lawn will change with the seasons. As such, it’s important that your lawn maintenance routines change too. Preparing your lawn for the different conditions will go a long way toward not just allowing it to survive the often harsh winter conditions that parts of Australia experience, but to thrive in them.
So what does an astute lawn owner need to think about in the lead-up to autumn? Here’s a complete guide to getting your patch of turf autumn ready.
Preparing your lawn for autumn is, by extension, preparing your lawn for winter. The healthier and happier you can get your grass during what is a fairly mild time of year will result in a far greater likelihood of your patch getting through the depths of winter unscathed.
Autumn watering is very important in the more temperate parts of Australia. In places like Perth and Adelaide the beginning of autumn can actually be one of the hottest periods of the year, with the temperature often hitting 40C. It’s also very dry in these places for the most part, so irrigation is vital in quenching your lawn’s thirst. Water your lawn deeply 2-3 times a week during the dry periods of autumn; this will promote strong root growth and get your lawn as strong and healthy as it can be before winter hits.
If you choose one time of year to fertilise your lawn, make it autumn (ideally you’ll choose two, and make the other one spring!). Autumn represents a great time of year to fertilise because the cooler weather will slow down the growth rate of the grass blades, but the warm soil will still have your roots and rhizomes growing well. A hit of fertiliser will give your lawn the best chance to generate a strong and healthy root system to help it through winter.
Wait until the heat has died down a little – mid-April through mid-May – and apply a Nitrogen-heavy fertiliser to the grass.
Your standard mowing routine will suffice during autumn, although those with warm season grasses – i.e. most of Australia – will find that their lawns will need a more regular trim than they may at other times of the year. Autumn is peak growing season for warm-season grasses like Couch, Kikuyu and Buffalo, so you may need to be out there every weekend in order to stick to the “never take more than 1/3rd of the blade off” rule.
Autumn Aeration and Raking
Prepping your lawn for the colder months ahead means doing some lawn maintenance that might otherwise be forgotten about. One such task is aeration. While aerating your lawn may seem like a job that can be put off indefinitely, with the winter rains approaching it’s a great time to open up your soil to allow both water and oxygen in. As with irrigation and fertilisation, aeration serves to strengthen the lawn’s roots.
Autumn means falling leaves, and this plant debris can deny your lawn of life-giving sun. Be sure to rake your lawn regularly to avoid it browning off.
Guarding Against Pests
Grubs, beetles and worms love autumn. The milder temperatures can result in epic outbreaks of pests looking to chow down on your precious turf, and stopping such events before they occur should be at the top of your list of priorities.
The only way to solve a problem is to first recognise that you have one. You need to be on the lookout for pests whenever you’re doing any work on your lawn. They can often be hard to spot, so make a concerted effort to look in different patches of your garden for signs of an infestation. If you find any pests, try to rid them of your lawn first with a mild, natural pesticide. If that doesn’t work, upgrade to something more industrial.
Just be careful with the stronger pesticides – you don’t want to kill off the good bacteria and helpful bug life that assists your lawn.
Have you got any other queries relating to autumn lawn care? Don’t hesitate to contact the friendly team at McKays!