Autumn is a key preparational season for your lawn. By taking these simple steps now, you can ensure your lawn not only survives winter but thrives in the upcoming warmer seasons.
Most turf varieties in Australia are warm season grasses, such as buffalo, kikuyu, couch and zoysia. When the temperature drops their growth will slow down significantly and they will enter a period of dormancy.
So here’s a basic 6-step autumn lawn care guide to help you prepare your lawn for the cooler weather ahead and ensure it bounces back to its best for the upcoming warmer seasons.
1. Maximise Sunlight Exposure
It is important to ensure that your lawn receives as much sunlight as possible over the cooler months.
- Regularly prune any trees and bushes
- Regularly rake your yard to remove fallen leaves
- Take down any summer shade cloths or umbrellas, and store away any garden furniture that may obstruct sunlight
Note that, to prevent damage from the cold, some trees and bushes are best pruned in late winter or early spring. So be sure to check first whether an autumn prune is suitable for your varieties of trees and shrubs.
2. Autumn Weeding
While warm season varieties of turf will slow down in growth over the cooler months, the same cannot be said about many weeds.
- Remove weeds roots-and-all by hand and/or apply an appropriate post-emergent herbicide like Lawn Solutions Australia’s All Purpose Weed Control.
- Break the seasonal cycle weeds appearing on your lawn by applying a pre-emergent herbicide like Lawn Solutions Australia’s Oxafert Herbicide & Fertiliser.
Musturf uses and recommends a mid to late autumn treatment of Oxafert, to prevent Crab Grass, Winter Grass, Oxalis, and Crowsfoot while providing a slow-release of nitrogen for up to 8 weeks.
The best time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide like Oxafert is just before the soil temperature drops below 14 degrees, which is usually in mid-autumn. However application may be required earlier in some colder regions.
Winter Grass (Poa Annua) in particular is a weed to be wary of during the cooler months, and a combination of both pre and post-emergent treatments will provide the best results.
With any herbicide, be sure to check packaging for compatibility with your turf variety, correct application and whether it is an appropriate treatment for the species of weeds in your lawn.
3. Autumn Mowing
You can reduce the frequency of your mowing over Autumn as the growth of your lawn slows down, however mowing is still an important factor in the health of your lawn.
- For warm season grasses (e.g. buffalo, kikuyu, couch and zoysia), raise your mower height a couple of notches – a longer leaf and thicker canopy will help these varieties better absorb sunlight and nutrients, as well as block out weeds in winter.
- For cool season grasses (e.g. tall fescue, rye and bluegrass), these varieties can be mown shorter to allow sunlight into the thatch, which is particularly important for shaded areas.
Your soil base can get quite compacted over summer due to a combination of high temperatures and high foot-traffic on your lawn. Aerating your lawn in Autumn will help loosen your soil to allow better water and oxygen penetration, and stimulate root growth.
You can aerate your lawn by using either an aerator, aerator sandals or a simple garden fork. Just drive your fork half way down into the soil and wiggle it, repeating across your lawn to create fractures within your soil profile.
Particularly if you have a warm season grass variety that goes dormant over winter, autumn is an ideal season to fertilise your lawn, giving it essential nutrients to encourage repair and growth.
Musturf uses and recommends Lawn Solutions Australia’s Premium Fertiliser, a slow-release granular fertiliser that releases essential nutrients to your lawn for up to 3 months after application. For best results, apply the correct application rate for your grass variety and use a spreader for even distribution.
Given the deluge of rain we have had so far this season, you may not need to water your lawn frequently if at all.
Use the screwdriver test to check the moisture of your soil – shove a screwdriver into your soil, and if it doesn’t go in easily past 8-10 cms, you will need to increase the frequency of your watering.
Other tell-tale signs that your lawn needs more irrigation are if your grass leaf is wilting or losing colour, or if footprints are detectable when you walk across your lawn.
In general, give your lawn a deep watering 1-2 times a week over Autumn, ideally in the early morning.