Gee..... what happened to the month of March and the end of the financial year?? This is a particularly busy time of the year on the turf farm and March kinda' came and went without a newsletter being published .....my bad!
So, autumn is now upon us accompanied by cooler day time temperatures and that distinctive nip in the air in the evenings and early in the mornings......boo hoo!.....I already miss summer! However, this is a great time of the year to address any issues on your lawn So, here is a list of some recommended activities;
- It is important to manage water applications carefully at this time of the year. Many districts will have received sufficient moisture to allow irrigation systems to be turned off. However, in several areas ground water is still limiting meaning that irrigation is still a necessity. The key is not to over water as it is important to ensure that the soil is not overly wet or saturated going into winter as this hinders winter growth rates and can create further problems.
- Mowing management is important in autumn and particularly through April as this is a time when plants tiller profusely. So, the more often the lawn is cut over this time the denser the lawn will become.
- If the lawn is being mown more regularly then it will be important to replace the nutrients lost and removed as clippings. Therefore, this is an important time to apply a fertiliser dressing also.
- For cool season grasses this is a great time of the year to correct any areas damaged over the summer months. Often this may involve over-sowing with additional seed. This can be applied using a tractor mounted seed drill, however for most residential sites this process is a manual proposition as the areas are too small to access with tractor driven equipment. The best results occur once the height of the existing lawn has been gradually reduced over several mows. Remember that the "rule of thumb" is to remove no more than 20% of the total leaf area per cut. Then the area should be scarified using a rake. Apply the seed and a light dressing of freshly screened topsoil or turf sand is then advisable. Complete this task by applying another layer of seed and finish by rolling and compacting the treated area using a garden roller.
- Warm season grasses such as couch and kikuyu will respond very well to light applications of gibberellic acid over the cooler autumn months. They will "colour up" and look significantly more attractive if this is accompanied by regular nitrogen treatments. This will promote growth later into the winter season and the extra gibberellin also tends to improve the colour characteristics of the turf. Note that gibberellins are naturally occurring plant growth hormones that act to increase growth by increasing cell elongation.
- Keep an eye out for flocks of starlings on your lawn as this is a clear indication that the lawn has an issue with grass grub larvae.(which is covered in further detail alter in this newsletter).
- Autumn rains normally bring a flush of unwanted broadleaf weeds. These should be controlled now so that turfgrasses have ample opportunity to re-colonise these areas before winter. If this treatment is delayed it can lead to a proliferation of poa annua later in winter. For cool season grasses common treatments include products that contain 2,4 D & dicamba (sold as Banvine) dicamba, MCPA & mecaprop (sold as Broadsword) or a combination of Picloram and Triclopyr (sold as Triumph, Victory, Brushkiller). Please note that for warm season lawns that are comprised of couchgrass or kikuyu these latter products cannot be used as they will cause significant damage to these lawn species.