Autumn is a season of great change for plants. The cooler temperatures and ever-shorter days have trees dropping leaves, flowers wilting and grasses beginning to hibernate. This is particularly the case in the more temperate areas of Australia, where the simple wet/dry seasonal heat of the north is replaced by a more complete calendar of seasons.
So what should the lawn owners of Australia that live below the sub-tropics be thinking about as autumn approaches? What risks do their lawns face, and how do they go about mitigating these issues?
Let’s take a look at some of the most common lawn issues in autumn, and how to go about fixing them.
Loss of Strength and Vitality
The plentiful sun and warm soils that are offered up during summer can get your lawn looking super healthy, but by the back end of autumn this vitality has all but worn off. The daylight hours drop dramatically through the middle of autumn, and when you combine this with cooler soils, your lawn may not be fully prepared for the stresses of winter.
You need to make hay while the sun shines, so to speak. The start of autumn, with its warmth and sun, will be the peak growing period for most Australian lawns. Use this fact to strengthen your grass. Apply a slow release fertiliser to offer it the nutrients that it needs to get up to full strength as winter approaches.
Broadleaf weeds explode towards the end of autumn, and a patchy and thin lawn will be a prime target for them. To drown out the weeds, you want your lawn to be as thick and as dense as it can be.
While the above fertiliser regime will be as good a place to start as any to encourage thick growth, you also want to mow your lawn regularly. This serves to reduce the amount of stress on the grass, and get it to grow thick and low. That said, towards the end of autumn you’ll want to allow your lawn to grow out a little, as a greater amount of blade will allow it to photosynthesise the limited amount of sun better. Keeping an eye out for any invading weeds is also vital, as one unwanted visitor can turn into tens or even hundreds in very quick time. Try to remove the weeds by hand if there aren’t too many, as the use of a herbicide could weaken your lawn.
Grubs and beetles absolutely love the temperate conditions of autumn. Cutworm, sod webworm and armyworm in particular go gangbusters from March through to May, so it’s vital that you stay vigilant. Part the grass when you’re mowing, and check the roots for any signs of a grub or beetle infestation.
The fix will depend on the particular pest you’re trying to get rid of, but it’s advisable to initially try a basic and light-duty pesticide, perhaps even one that’s homemade, like a liquid soap/lemon oil combination.
Build-up of Debris
The leaves falling off of your property’s trees may be annoying, but they’re not exactly hurting anyone, are they? The fact is that unraked leaves and debris can indeed hurt your lawn, by denying it sun.
With Australian warm-season lawns traditionally not too tolerant of shade, it’s important that you ensure your lawn is raked regularly over autumn. A build-up of leaves that sit in one spot for days on end can create a brown patch in your turf, and this will get harder and harder to fix as autumn turns into winter.
In reality, autumn lawn care is just an extension of your year-round lawn care routine. There may be some slightly different things that you’re on the lookout for, but the foundation still rests on a solid lawn maintenance regime.
And if you’ve got any further questions on how best to care for your lawn in autumn, don’t hesitate to contact the friendly team at McKays.