How is your turf looking after a long hot summer? Does it look abundant, well cared for, manicured and loved? Or is it like mine, which shows the signs of a busy summer, and hectic outdoor-entertainment season with the odd burnt patch (caused from embers falling out of the pizza oven)? My lawn has worked hard all summer and now it is getting a major makeover.
With the final month of autumn here, it is your last chance to give an established lawn some love and care before winter. And it is your last opportunity to sow a new lawn before spring.
1. Feed it & reap
Lawns are hungry living things. They do a lot of work that often goes unnoticed or recognised. At the moment you need to be feeding your lawn. It’s the last month to do so before the soil temperatures drop away, preventing grass from being able to take up and absorb as many nutrients.
Feeding your lawn is simple. If you use a dry fertiliser it is as easy as wandering around the lawn sprinkling it as you go. A fertiliser spreader makes the job even easier. Liquid fertilisers do an amazing job as well, and simply snap onto the end of your hose and are then watered on.
TOP TIP: Avoid mowing your lawn after you have applied granular fertiliser. Otherwise, most of it will end up being sucked into the lawn catcher or get blended into the lawn clippings.
2. Lawn seed, invest in the best
No one ever regrets buying quality and when it comes to grass seed it is no different. Choose a type of seed that will suit your lifestyle, soil conditions and outdoor space. You will notice a price variance on the shelves and this is mostly due to how or if the seed has been coated with a bird repellent and a germination enhancer. Yes, birds love grass seed, so to prevent them chewing through your fescue or brown-top blends, choose a coated seed, which is normally pink or blue. The coating also makes it really easy to see when you are sprinkling it on the soil, enabling you to be aware of where you may have too much or too little seed.
If your lawn will be in a shady area, choose a shade-loving blend, or if your kids and all the neighbourhood are likely to play cricket on your back lawn throughout summer opy for a hardwearing and more robust blend.
May is the last month to sow a lawn before spring.
3. Ready lawn
When time is an issue and you really do not want to wait weeks for your new lawn to establish itself, book in some ready lawn. If you factor in the time and expertise required in sowing a new lawn versus the quicker outcome of ready lawn, it can be easy to justify the value. Most ready-lawn or instant-turf suppliers offer on-site visits, a laying service and a support network to help you navigate your way through any issues. So, you do not need to be a lawn expert in any way, shape or form. It is also easy to lay yourself, but the rolls of turf are reasonably heavy, so it’s not a job for anyone lacking muscles.
4. War on lawn weeds
If you have weeds in your lawn, knock them on the head now, and eradicate them before winter. If you have a lot of moss, clover or onehunga weed, for example, look for a specific lawn weed spray, but if you have a broad range of lawn weeds and the infestation isn’t too bad, consider using a weed-and-feed-type product. The latter are particularly easy to use; they snap onto the end of your hose, and you literally just spray and walk away!
5. Ask an expert
Never be afraid to get in some expert help with your lawn. Take some photos of your lawn problems and either send them in to the team at Kiwi Gardener, or show them to your local garden centre. Sometimes, it’s best to present a physical sample of the pest or disease issue to your problem-solver of choice.
6. Mowing heights
Over the colder months aim to keep your lawn a little longer. Lift the height of your mower blades now. This change will help keep the soil warmer, which protects the roots from the colder weather. Scalping your lawn now will cause major issues, and more than likely create a muddy patch in that area over winter.
7. Look after your mower
As the lawn growth slows down a bit, take time to get your mower serviced. An average service is anything between $100 and $200 and could take up to a week, depending on where you go. Some companies offer mobile lawnmower servicing. Check your local community social network pages, you may be able to coordinate getting a few done in your neighbourhood with a local person. Get the usuals done: blade sharpening, fuel-line check, greasing of all moving parts, oil check and change, and sparkplug clean.
8. Rake up your clippings
Leaving clumps of freshly mown grass certainly doesn’t do you lawn any favours. It limits the soil’s ability to breathe and take in oxygen and moisture and seriously limits worm activity. Put the clippings into bags, your green waste bin (if you have one) or blend them into the compost bin bit by bit.
9. Wet patches
Avoid mowing these wherever possible, even though they can be hard to avoid over the winter months. Where possible, wait until the water has drained away, or try lifting the mower blade height to avoid the grass getting too damaged. If the problem keeps occurring, consider getting some drainage put into your lawn.
10. Artificial grass
Are you prepared to fake it until you make it? Sometimes the idea of sowing new lawn in autumn and having the area roped off through the wettest months can be daunting and not overly practical, especially if you have a young family or pets. This is a good time to consider using artificial grass. You will find it in the hardware and garden shops, and can simply buy what you need and roll it out. Once spring comes, roll it up again and sow your lawn seed.
11. Weed sprayers
In an ideal world you would have a couple of weed sprayers, one for generic weed sprays that kill most plants (glyphosate), then you would have another sprayer for specific weed sprays, e.g. lawn sprays and so on. If this isn’t the case, you need to be diligent and wash out your sprayer in between uses. Recently, a neighbour didn’t do this and the residue from his previous weed spraying was still in the sprayer and it killed parts of his lawn.