How Often Do I Water My Turf?
To ensure that the roots develop a deep root system well it is better to apply one deep watering in lieu of frequent shallow watering. Water requirements for an established lawn are considerably less that what is required during the establishment period, and in an average summer you should apply 2 deep waterings a week and 1 per fortnight in winter depending on conditions.
Once a lawn is full established generally in 12 months, one deep watering of 15mm in summer should be sufficient each week – use a plastic container or rain gauge under the sprinkler to estimate how long it takes the sprinkler to apply 15mm. Avoid watering in the evening and at night as the lawn will remain wet and this can encourage fungus and disease – the best time to water is early morning when less water will be lost through evaporation.
Fertilising your lawn
Lawns require regular feeding with a quality fertiliser to keep them looking good and growing strong.
The ideal is to fertilise three times a year – Spring, Summer and Autumn, but if once a year is your thing, then make it Spring.
Using a quality fertiliser such as BT Eco Fertiliser has many advantages:
- The average lawn will only take around 10-minutes to fertilise.
- One application will last for up to three months
- As it’s slow release you can rest assured that you are not flooding your soil and surrounding waterways or bushland with excess nutrient runoff; because the formula is concentrated you get excellent coverage from a small bag.
Most of the lawn grasses we grow in Australia are warm season varieties that don't do well over winter. Chances are your lawn’s looking a bit worse for wear leading into spring. Browning is typical, as is thinning. This will have the flow-on effect of making any bare patches look worse than they actually are. On the positive side, your lawn is about to bust back into lush, green life.
- Rake vigorously to not only clear fallen leaves and twigs but more importantly; to strip out dead and brown grass ("thatch") to allow more light through to new shoots.
- Fertilise. This is the critical time of year to give your lawn a balanced, slow release feed. Fertilising now provides the nutrients to reinvigorate the lawn so it can power into summer. If you only fertilise once a year, do it in Spring!
- Watch watering. This can be a tricky time of year for watering. The soil hasn’t warmed and nights may still be cool, so a deep watering may last for longer than expected. Burrow your finger down into the lawn. If it’s damp, don't water.
- Mowing. Now’s the time to get your mower serviced and the blades sharpened or changed. If you’ve been mowing with a catcher over winter, switch to mulch mowing now.
- Weed watch. Weeds are coming to life too! Fertilising the lawn to thicken it up will help keep weeds at bay. Very sparse areas are the most likely to become infested with weeds.
Dethatching. "Dethatching" a lawn refers to the mechanical removal from a lawn of a thatch layer that is too thick. Dethatching is not nearly as big a part of lawn care as is mowing. You may have noticed your lawn has a build-up of dead organic matter, excessive roots and stems that have developed within the profile of your grass. This is a natural process caused by your lawn producing more organic matter than what can be broken down. Some turf varieties will thatch more than others and overtime the height of your lawn can increase and can become quite unsightly.
Dethatching will help to remove this layer so that air and nutrients are able to reach your soil base and can more effectively feed your lawn. Reducing thatch also prevents water log in your roots and allows proper drainage, this will help to prevent the risk of fungal issues. Getting in a couple of low-mows and gradually reducing the height of your lawn will reduce the thatch layer in your lawn. A good time to do this is towards the end of spring when the lawn is establishing quickly and will have time to recover. Do not do this in the cooler months as you will cause significant damage to your lawn and it will not be able to recover during winter.
This is potentially the most challenging time of year for your lawn, with extreme heat, wind and dryness all getting thrown at it. While you can’t do much about the weather, you can make sure your lawn is well set up to survive these trying conditions.
- Fertilise. Apply slow release BT Eco Fertiliser again in early Summer - three months after the first feed. Avoid fertilising once daytime temperatures reach 30 deg C.
- Get water-wise. Lawns can dry out very quickly in Summer. Water early in the morning while it's cool so your lawn gets a chance to absorb the maximum amount of water. Late watering may induce overnight humidity resulting in fungal problems.
- Mowing. Growth usually slows down in hot, dry weather due to stress. Raise the cutting height of the mower to leave the grass longer, providing shade and natural cooling to the roots and soil. Mulch mow as this helps insulate the soil and roots and reduce evaporation. Mow early or late in the day to reduce the incidence of the grass developing burned tips.
- Weed watch. Weeds may continue to thrive in Summer, especially dandelion and cats-ear that have large tap roots that help them survive drought. Take care using lawn weeding products - many brands suggest avoiding use in hot weather.
You can almost hear lawns and gardens, not to mention gardeners, breath a sigh of relief as evenings become cooler and days shorter. Now’s the time to make good any damage done by Summer and, more importantly, set your lawn up for the cold times ahead.
- Fertilise. If you only feed your lawn once a year, do it in Spring; if you only fertilise twice a year, do it in Spring and Autumn. Feeding now will green your lawn up ahead of winter also make it stronger and better able to resist damage from extreme cold, even frost.
- Watering. It can be easy to overlook the lawn drying out at this time of year. Windy weather can be just as drying as a hot day. Make the most of any rain or water you do apply by using a wetter will improve water penetration significantly.
- Mowing. Mowing frequency will decrease as growth slows. In Autumn, your lawn is storing energy for Winter so and growth/mowing frequency should drop. Ensure you clear leaves to allow your lawn as much sunlight as possible leading into the harsh winter.
TIP: If your lawn doesn’t need mowing but leaves are a problem, raise the cutting height of your mower to the limit, fit the catcher and use it like a vacuum cleaner.
- Weed watch. Weeds are generally not problematic in Autumn but there's one pesky variety that needs to be dealt with now.
- Bindi's. Did you find your lawn full of bindii prickles in Summer? Now is the time to take action - it’s an annual weed that starts its growth in Autumn. The easy way to treat bindii and other lawn weeds is with Bin-Die weed killer.
Read the label carefully to ensure your lawn is a suitable variety before use.
Lawns hibernate through Winter, with maintenance demands are lower.
- Fertilise. Fertilising the lawn in Winter is not generally recommended, especially if you have already fed it three times since the start of Spring. There is little point in feeding because growth has slowed and the lawn will not take up nutrients.
- Watering. It’s surprising how dry the lawn and garden can become in Winter. Keep an eye on the moisture levels by feeling deep into the thatch. If it feels moist, don't water. In winter it's best to water in the morning. If you water in the afternoon before a cold night water may freeze, causing damage. Don't over water because a lawn that stays wet can rot when it's cold.
- Mowing. In most places, you’ll probably only need to mow two or three times across winter. Switch to catching rather than mulching because clippings left on the lawn may cause fungal problems. Keep the lawn clear of fallen leaves and trim back overhanging branches that may be restricting light.
- Weed watch. Most weeds are dormant over Winter but there are a few to watch for. It’s still not too late to treat bindii and this should also deal with broadleaf weeds, thistles and oxalis (clovers).
The most conspicuous weed is likely to be Winter Grass. It will stand out lush and bright green. Winter grass is best removed by hand - selective lawn weeders will not kill it. Hand removal is easy - use an old fashioned daisy grubber then throw the plants into a bucket. Dispose of them in your green waste bin.
Mow at the right height for your grass type
The proper height for mowing your lawn depends on your grass variety, season and growing conditions. Below is a rough guide for the correct mowing heights for the major different varieties of lawn grass:
|Turf Variety||Lawn Mowing Height|
|Sir Walter DNA Certifed Buffalo||30 - 50 mm|
|Sir Grange||10 - 50-mm|
|TifTuf Bermuda Grass||10 - 30 mm|
|Platinum Zoysia Grass||20 - 30mm|
|Nullarbor Couch||20 - 40mm|
|Empire Zoysia||20 - 30mm|
Don’t mow your lawn too short
Don’t mow your lawn too short as this can put your lawn under extreme stress. It can leave brown or bare looking patches on your lawn, and if cut too short regularly, can seriously deplete the lawn’s energy reserves and is an open invitation for weeds to invade and seed.
Reduce mowing height gradually
If your lawn is overgrown, gradually reduce it to the correct height over a few mows. Avoid taking too much off the leaf blade in one go as this can stress the grass and it may require additional irrigation to recover. Taking no more than one-third of the blade length each mow is a good general rule.
Mow your lawn regularly
Avoid long periods between mows – regular mowing is best. Keep in mind that your mowing routine may also need to change with the seasons. Sir Walter DNA Certified, for example, loves hot summers and will have vigorous growth during this time.
Keep your lawn mower blades sharp
Keep your mower well maintained; shape blades are crucial for a good cut. Blunt blades tend to tear, rather than cut the lawn.
Interested in learning more?
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