The backyard tends to get neglected in winter as cool weather keeps people indoors. When there’s less sun to produce chlorophyll, grass growth is slowed and the lawn colour fades.
1. Give it some air
The lawn compacts when people or vehicles move over it regularly and wet soil is even more prone to this problem. Test by pushing in a garden fork, if it won’t go in far then the lawn needs aerating.
FOR SMALL LAWNS Wiggle a fork into the soil across the entire area every 100mm, opening up the soil so oxygen and water can get to the roots.
FOR BIG LAWNS aerate the soil by hiring a lawn corer, for about $85 for four hours, from Kennards Hire.
2. Check the pH
Measure the acidity or alkalinity of the soil using a pH test kit, $13 from nurseries or hardware stores. The ideal level is between 6.5 and 7. Below 6.5 means soil is acidic and needs a handful of dolomite for every square metre followed by a good soaking. Above 7 means the soil is alkaline.
3. Feed the lawn
Use a fertiliser spreader for even distribution of a slow-release lawn fertiliser such as Yates Lush Lawn Lifter.
Also add a soil-wetting agent in preparation for warmer, drier weather. Always water lawns well after feeding as the fertiliser can burn the grass if it’s left on dry.
TIP To avoid disease and rot from too much moisture, water in winter only after a long period without rain.
4. Cut for growth
Mow the lawn every three to four weeks. Set the blade height to cut weeds and just the tip of the grass to leave a larger leaf surface area to capture sunlight, increasing the photosynthesis process.
5. Zap the weeds
Weeds flourish in weakened winter grass so dig them out of small lawns with a trowel or garden fork. Spray larger areas with weed killer.