Feel that South East Queenslanders? Winter has finally arrived. While we don’t have to contend with the snow and major frosts as our southern cousins do, the colder weather does bring with it some specific lawn care tasks to undertake to ensure that your lawn maintains its lush green colour and health.
During the cooler season your turf only really requires two things – some minerals and some organic matter. Get these sorted and you can truly enjoy the period of less mowing and feeding. The cooler temperatures create a slower metabolic rate in most plants and lawns are no exception. This equates to slower growth but also less water consumption and less need for nitrogen inputs. In fact, no nitrogen rich fertilisers should be applied during a cold snap. The slowing of the metabolic rate gives the lawn plants a rest from their growing phase and minimises any potential damage to soft growth if you do get any frost at your place. For these reasons stimulating growth during this time can be dangerous, making new growth susceptible to problems such as tissue destruction.
We recommend avoiding any products during the colder weather with a nitrogen content higher than 5%.
Rather than worrying about growth during Winter you can use this time to rebuild the mineral content in the soil and feed that soil with a bit of organic matter – come Spring your lawn won’t struggle with mineral deficiencies that can lead to disease and pest problems. Organic matter will feed the beneficial microbes and larger organisms such as earthworms – these fantastic helpers will convert the organic matter to humus which, in turn, helps to minimize the water runoffs, increases water retention. They also tunnel around down there and create ways for water and oxygen to flow while also feeding upon the thatch. This will reduce the need to water as often when the warmer weather returns and will improve the overall physical structure of the soil.
A mineral supplement can also be added now – a good calcium source such as a fossilised kelp, lime or agricultural gypsum mixed with soil sulphur, soft rock phosphate, and sulphate of potash magnesia in the ratio of 5:1:2:1. Apply at the rate of 4.5kgs per 100 square meters of lawn. Thoroughly water in.
Complete these two tasks while the weather is chilly and not only will your lawn survive Winter unscathed but it will be raring to go when the temperatures start to rise again.
For more tips and advice on maintaining a health lawn you can see our blogs here