Mowing for winter
When the temperature drops, you don't need to mow regularly like you do in summer. Setting the mower higher in winter will really help – the longer the leaf, the more photosynthesis occurs and the healthier the lawn will stay.
With reduced mowing, now's a great time to get the mower serviced. A lot of people don't get around to sharpening the blades on the mower. Dull blades tear and rip the grass – if you look at the ends of mown grass leaves, you’ll notice little strings of fibre on the cut end where it's frayed and damaged. That’s a signal you’re overdue for sharpening your blades! Sharp mower blades make a cleaner cut and cause less stress to the grass; helping it recover faster. Also, don't mow a wet lawn, it tears and damages the grass pretty much like a dull mower blade.
How to handle frost
Keep off the grass! Frost freezes grass blades on your lawn; walking or driving over it makes them snap and crackle under your feet or car. This shows up first as black marks and later brown, dead grass. If the frost is light, when temperatures start to warm up in the day, a light spray of water can lift the frost quicker and help the grass deal with the shock/stress of the temperature. But if the frost is heavy, don't spray water on it, it can make it worse!
During winter, weeds take advantage of the lawn’s weakened state to fill every possible gap. Winter weeds germinate at lower soil temperatures, often popping up around April/Easter. Most broad-leafed weeds are easily controlled with a selective herbicide. This is the type of weedkiller that removes weedy invaders without harming the lawn grass.
Typical examples of broad-leafed weeds are clover, dandelions, capeweed, clover and thistles. Traditional selective herbicides like Yates Turfix Lawn Weed Spray Concentrate work effectively on these weeds, and play nicely with common NZ lawn types like Fescue, Browntop, and Ryegrass.
Weed ‘n’ Feed
A simple way to remove weeds and fertilise the lawn at the same time is by using Yates Weed n Feed Double Action Hose On. The Yates Weed’n’Feed range includes hose-on and dry formulations, Yates Weed n Feed Double Action Granular. Check directions to make sure that the product is right for your grass. If you don’t know what sort of grass you have, take some samples to a horticulturist to have it identified.
If your lawn isn't thick and healthy over winter, moss can quickly take over and crowd out the grass. Late winter to early spring is an ideal time to keep moss in check. Yates Weed'n'Feed Mosskiller is super-easy to apply.
Spiking and aerating
At the end of winter, lawn soil is often compacted, so the lawn will benefit from a good spiking while the soil is moist. Do this by energetically pushing a fork as far as possible vertically into the soil or, if you want to save your back, hiring a mechanical aerator. The fork method is quite hard work, but it pays off!
If your soil type is clay-based an application of gypsum will help break up the clay, improving drainage and porosity. A good trick to aerate heavy moist clay is to use a small garden auger fitted into a strong battery drill. You can drill the auger in, reverse the drill and back it out to make a nice deep spiral aeration hole, which you can then water gypsum into. In fair warning, it's a very laborious task to work your way around a lawn, but it creates an excellent result.
Let your lawn breathe
If you have deciduous trees that drop leaves on your lawn in autumn, don't leave them sitting on the lawn into the winter. A layer of leaves blocks sunlight to the grass underneath, and prevents oxygen, water, and nutrients from getting where they need to go. And that means the lawn is more susceptible to fungal diseases and pests. Leaves make great compost, so rake them up early and add them to your compost bin.
The end of winter in late August is the perfect time to feed the lawn. The development of high-performing slow release lawn foods means this task is much easier than it used to be. Yates Lawn Fertiliser Granular is a shining example of these new feeds. The specially-developed tech in its formulation means that it continues to gently and gradually release nutrients for three months.
Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Lawn Food is another great option for long-term feeding. It has the added benefit of improving the soil’s organic content. Organic content helps to break down clay soils and improves the soil ecosystem, which encourages earthworms, that in turn help to improve the soils porosity or drainage and air movement. This all makes it easier for your lawn to grow and root deeper into the soil.
When the soil temperature begins to rise at the end of winter, you can thicken tired and worn lawns by over-sowing with one of the Yates Lawn Seed packs. These come in a few different varieties, Yates Tuff Grass Lawn Seed, Yates Sun & Shade Lawn Seed, and Yates Kikuyu Lawn Seed, all formulated to suit different lawn types and situations. If you want to get stuck in earlier, go for Yates Anytime Lawn Seed which will germinate at soil temperatures above 3℃.