Beautiful spring is well under way and it’s so nice to see a flush of new growth, splashes of colour and everything greening up. It’s no secret however that winter can be quite harsh on the appearance of our lawns, especially now that the summer grasses such as Buffalo, Couch and Kikuyu have become hugely popular. They go into dormancy over winter in colder areas such as Melbourne, and unfortunately that can cause a “browning” or “yellowing” to what was once a healthy, green lawn. It can also cause the lawn to become “patchy”. The good news is that now that the temperatures are warming up, so too are our lawns, and now is the perfect time to bring them back to life.
Below are some helpful tips to ensure your lawn is in great condition coming into the warmer months:
1. Start from the bottom – Soil quality can play a big part with the health of your lawn. Soil types will always vary depending on your location, so there is no one solution that will be suited to everyone. However, aerating your lawn will reduce soil compaction and help with air circulation and absorption of water and nutrients. Aerating is especially important if you have a clay base. You can hire an aerator from your local hire operator, or here’s a good article on how to aerate effectively and easily yourself.
2. Weeds – If you see a few weeds around – pull them out! It’s a simple, healthy and energetic way of ensuring they don’t overtake your lawn, and it also eliminates the need for using sprays (which come at a cost to you and the environment).
3. Thatch build up – Taking a quick walk across your lawn is an easy way to determine if there is excessive thatch build up (layer of dead grass that lies above the soil and roots), as it will feel very spongy to walk on. You can treat early beginnings of thatch build up by mowing your lawn a little lower the next time it’s due. This is a great deal easier and cheaper than hiring equipment. You can also use a metal rake for smaller areas to remove excess thatch. Be careful not to over fertilise as this can also cause thatch build up.
4. Fertilisers – A good way to ensure your lawn thrives is to fertilise it in spring (or autumn). There are many varieties on the market, so speak to your local nursery about what is best suited to your lawn variety and soil. If you really want to get a little technical, you can test the soils PH levels with a basic soil PH testing kit. This will help determine whether your soil is lacking in nutrients it requires to thrive. Check with your local nursery or garden supplies as to the recommended PH levels for your area. The optimum level is usually around 6.5 and they can advise you of the correct products to use if the levels are above or below this.
5. Beetles and Grubs – October is the month prone for bugs and grubs hatching. A simple way to test for them is to pull up dead grass. If it comes away easily, then it’s usually a good indication that something is eating away at the roots. If you also notice a lot of birds flocking to your lawn, it’s a good sign that there is some tucker down below! You can purchase safe treatment beetle and grub killer products to send them packing.
6. Treating patches – You can fix up patches in your lawn by removing the old grass and sowing some seeds – don’t forget to use the same type as the rest of you lawn however, if you want/need to replace lawn with instant turf there are a variety of choices suited to different areas.
7. Mowing according to growth – Try to keep your mower blades relatively high until the weather is more consistently warm and the grass levels have evened out. Aim not to mow over a third of the height of your lawn each time. ‘Crew cuts’ can weaken the strength of the lawn and give the weeds more power to punch on through.
8. Watering wisely – Different varieties will require different amounts of water and hand watering or using irrigation will simply depend on how much rain fall we have had and how much sun the area is open to. You can check the leaf of a lawn, and if this is wilting, it’s a good indication your lawn needs a little water. The key is to reduce the amount of water your lawn needs by not over fertilising or mowing the grass too short. If using an irrigation system, ensure that your sprinklers are free from surrounding grass or any soil build up. When fertilising, check the instructions on whether you should water before or after application. Don’t forget to also check if there are any watering restrictions in your area first.