Great skiing weather at the moment! .........although it appears that half of New Zealand's population have sought out the charms of warmer climates with many "Posts" coming in from either Europe or the Pacific islands at the moment ..... if only!
However, these cold conditions also keep the soil temperatures low. This has some important implications for the care of your lawn as low soil temperatures effect the manner in which plants uptake nutrients. As a result these are the tips I suggest for having your lawn looking great at this time of the year;
- Once ground temperatures drop beneath about 8oC plants will struggle to uptake nitrogen in the form of ammonia or urea. In this instance it is better to apply this nutrient in the form of nitrate or nitrite. As a result apply Turf Supreme rather than Turf Gold fertiliser. This will also be more effective at controlling the fungal disease "red thread" which tends to be prominent at the moment because of the exceedingly wet conditions.
- Mowing management is important as this time of the year to mitigate the risk of disease and plant losses. It is preferable to ensure that the plants are dry prior to mowing. This may mean waiting until the afternoon or for a windy day when dew is less of a factor. Cuts to leaf blades are far easier for the plant to seal if they are dry rather than wet. These take longer to seal and this extended period just increases the risk of fungal invasion.
- It is important to remove litter so that clumps of wet clipping do not lie on the surface suffocating plants.
- Also it is important to recognise that plants respond to day length. As the middle of August approaches the days stretch out quite a lot relative to those short days associated with the middle of June. The outcome is that plants respond by starting to grow more rapidly. Lawn managers need to respond by increasing mowing frequency otherwise long lawns will remain wet longer and will create their own shading effect.