Winter is upon us with the average temperature down slightly. We have experienced a few frosts which have made everything stop growing. We are expected to get average rain fall over the next 4 to 6-week period. Hopefully, we start to see some warmer and longer days which will see Spring around the corner very soon.
Winter Issues in Your Turf
Moss is ever present at this time of the year; with the shaded areas of your property the most susceptible. Now is the time to prune back hedges and plants that shade and reduce air flow on your lawns. Iron Sulphate can be used but be careful not to get it on concrete as it stains badly. Surrender, a chloride-based spray, works well. One spray or application isnât enough to control it though, you would need multiple applications to get on top of it.
Red Thread â (Fungi)
Seen for its obvious red colour, Red Thread can be very prevalent in lawns these days. It can take hold especially at this time of the year when fertility gets low and it is continually wet. Whilst it looks bad, it doesnât generally kill the grass. Spraying a fungicide and applying fertiliser will get this under control. You may need to spray the fungi 2 to 3 times to achieve total control.
The best control measure is to maintain a good supply of nitrogen in the turf to promote growth. This enables the disease to be mowed out. A fertiliser containing some potassium is best as this will harden up the plant.
- Remove clippings after mowing
- If you water, water deeply and infrequently and only if conditions start to dry.
- Anything you can do to improve drying will help e.g. reduce shade, improve air flow.
- Once the disease has ceased, aerate and possibly scarify the lawn to improve drying and remove thatch that harbours fungal spores.
The spraying of fungicides only gains a short-term result, it doesnât aid in the grass building up its own resistance to the disease and you will get locked into an annual cycle of treatments. Personally, I prefer to combat Red Thread with good lawn care practices and a well-managed fertiliser programme to reduce the affects. Once conditions improve the lawn will recover with no lasting damage.
Worms are important for the soil ecology, but an over-active worm through these wet winter months can cause lawns to become very bumpy once the castings dry. When the wet castings are smeared over the grass, it can cause an open lawn. We actively apply worm pellets to all our clientsâ lawns at present but if you would like extra, please phone the office to place an order. Worm pallets are an organic tea extract, so are very safe to use.
Mowing height through the winter can be lower than your summer height which is 50 to 70mm at present. By November, be sure to lift your mowing height to help prevent your lawn drying out. Donât over-mow either, at present every 2 to 3 weeks is plenty. Excessive traffic of mowing the lawn will make the lawn regress and struggle through the cooler months.
Winter Sown Lawns
Many people ask if itâs okay to sow lawn in the Winter. We are fortunate in the Waikato as we have a temperate climate with soil temperatures ranging from 6 to 11 degrees Celsius through the winter months. Areas that are shaded or low lying can struggle to get established in the short term. Lawns with soil put in through the Winter can get very wet and soft which is normal for any new lawn and will take time to gain soil structure again. This takes time as the grass roots and soil micro-organisms need to develop. Your lawn will dry out and firm up with the seasons. Once the lawn dries out in the Spring it will firm up.
Lawn Yellowing Off
This is common with low soil temperatures through the winter. Fertiliser applied will green up your lawn.