Seasonal Lawn Care

Lawn Care Tips for August


Nitrogen can Make or Break your Lawn

Early spring temperature fluctuations can cause sporadic turfgrass growth. Proper mowing is critical to the maintenance of a high quality lawn. If rapid turfgrass growth occurs, infrequent mowing will result in scalping of the turf. The frequency of mowing should be timed to remove no more than 1/3rd the leaf tissue. A week of 18o days and mild nights and the couch grass wakes up from winter dormancy.

Around 2 to 3 weeks after almond blossom appears is about the time that kikuyu emerges from dormancy. Assess the volume of clippings removed each cut. If it is significantly more than your previous cut then you should increase mowing frequency immediately.

Dog urine & faeces
Urine damage from dogs occurs occasionally in some home lawns. Often these spots are quite apparent in the spring. Homeowners often complain that the spots never recover and remain barren.

Dog urine and faeces can often be a frustrating problem related to lawn care. Small amounts may produce a green up or fertiliser effect while larger amounts often result in lawn burn or dead patches. While most burn spots will recover with time and regrowth, dead areas can be large enough in some cases to require reseeding or sodding. For homeowners who are also dog lovers, this can present a dilemma, particularly when one family member prefers the dog and another prefers a well-manicured lawn. An understanding of the interaction between dogs and the lawn can keep the yard (and family) at peace, not in pieces.

The fundamental problem with the presence of urine or faeces on the lawn is related to the nitrogen content and concentration of these waste products. Urine is a problem for lawns because it is applied all at once as a liquid fertiliser.

The primary concern in addressing urine damage to lawns is minimising the nitrogen concentration added to the lawn at any single time. The addition of any of dietary supplements has enough potential to cause harm, with limited to no known benefit for the lawn, and are not recommended. When owners have reported successes, as is sometimes the case on internet forums, liquids likely improved the situation because the urine concentration after treatment was diluted.

The most consistent solution to dog spots on lawns is to provide multiple fresh water drinking points around the garden to encourage the dog to drink more often. Watering the spot after urinations will accomplish the dilution with no ill affects on the dog. A fertiliser effect rather than burn was noted when the site was watered at any time up to 8 hours after urination. Routine watering of the grass in early mornings may not be sufficient to prevent all urine burns.

What fertiliser do we use?
Not all fertilisers are the same, and to steal a phrase from Castrol… Some fertilisers aren’t fertilisers. Ask us about it!

Pests and diseases
As the temperature rises above 16 degrees aphids become active, feeding on new plant growth. The most effective control is weed control – aphids breed on many species of thistle and other preferred weeds, then transfer to the young shoots of ornamentals. If spraying is considered necessary, a systemic insecticide that enters the plant sap stream is most suitable.

Seasonal Lawn Care

Lawn Care Tips for July


Healthy Lawn is the Best Weed Defence

Lawns: Now that the soil is as saturated as it probably will be this winter, apply gypsum to improve the texture of most soils. Gypsum has the action of causing clay particles to aggregate and form bigger lumps, increasing void space in the soil and improving drainage. Gypsum will assist to overcome the tendency of many garden ‘loams’ to water-log readily and become hard setting when dry.

Kikuyu lawns will green up with a very light application of water soluble nitrogen – 1 to 2 grams of nitrogen per square metre, plus an equal amount of Potassium is plenty at this time of the year. Couch is fully dormant so there is little point in fertilising it now as it is unable to absorb the nutrient. Respect the fact that it needs a period of dormancy.

Lawn Weeds Are Often Signals: If weeds are growing in your lawn, this may indicate a problem. In order to grow and compete with weeds, lawns require light, water, nutrients, air and proper temperature. If even one of these basic needs is missing, the quality of your lawn may rapidly decline and weeds may prevail.

Each weed in your lawn produces many viable seeds. You help weeds out with close mowing. Extended drought and high or low temperature extremes injure lawns, too.

The best defense against troublesome weeds is a healthy, dense and actively growing lawn. You create this type of lawn by mowing often at the right height, fertilising and liming according to soil test results and core aerating to reduce soil compaction. You can increase the amount of light reaching your lawn under tall, isolated trees by pruning limbs below 3 metres. Air movement across the surface of your lawn may improve by thinning, transplanting or eliminating selected shrubs growing nearby.

Increasing attention is being paid to autumn fertilising of warm season turfgrasses. The aim is not to extend grass growth further into winter, but to provide adequate nutrition that will enable the turfgrass to emerge from dormancy with a vigorous spring green-up that retains root dominance. We want new feeder roots even more than we want lush shoots. Old ideas of bringing grasses out of dormancy with massive doses of nitrogen in spring are being superceded by judicious applications of potassium nitrate in autumn.

In a domestic lawn, hybrid couch grasses are especially prone to thatching when mown at the customary two week schedule. The hybrid couches were really designed for high maintenance golf greens where daily mowing is considered normal. Thatch development is a natural consequence of grass growth. In nature it is an ecological adaptation that allows for nutrient recycling and the retention of moisture in the root zone.

If your lawn feels spongy to walk on, or if mowing leaves yellow “scalped” patches, AAA can provide affordable dethatching, also known as scarifying.

Seasonal Lawn Care

Lawn Care Tips for June


Beat the Winter Weeds & Frost

Cool seasons turfs should be mowed until shoot growth ceases. This provides a uniform looking turf going into the winter months. Letting the grass “go” into the winter can cause matting, and long matting turf is more susceptible to fungal diseases during the winter months.

Turf grasses can be the biggest weed of all when they invade garden beds, flourishing around young trees and sapping their energy. While glyphosate is highly effective in the warmer weather, weed control during the colder months, when some weedy plants are near dormancy, does not work so quickly. By adding a small amount of a complimentary chemical to glyphosate, we can ensure a more effective eradication of these plants.

Do not fertilise warm season grasses (couch, kikuyu) in winter when the grass is dormant. There is barely any sap flow in the grass, which is unable to absorb the fertiliser. Raise the mowing height to retain more green leaf on the grass. This increases the photosynthesizing area of the turf leaf, compensating for fewer hours of sunlight that reach the plants. It will not overcome the effect of colder weather that forces the summer active grasses into dormancy (couch and kikuyu grow most rapidly in soil temperatures between 23 and 32 degrees celsius). 

The effect of frost on the grass in the early morning can be alleviated by running the sprinklers for one or two minutes every morning. The irrigation water is warmer than the frost, and this does help to maintain the soil temperature a little higher, and so keep the lawn green for longer through the winter months.

Fescue turf grasses are in active growth now. Rotary mowing height should be at least 4 to 5 cm and they respond well to frequent, light applications of Potassium nitrate fertiliser. Never apply phosphorus (that’s the “P” on the analysis label) as fescue is quite intolerant to even small doses of phosphorus.