Winter conditions vary greatly in South Africa. Some areas experience mild, frost free winters. However Highveld, Free State winters can get extremely cold. These areas are also very dry in winter.
Conditions like this can wreck your carefully manicured lawn. Winter can leave you with a dry and dusty patch where your lawn used to be, unless you have a lawn that is indigenous to your area. At best, you will have to prepare for dry, brittle, grass where your green lawn used to be.
You can’t stave off winter. However, you can take some well-timed precautions to minimise the damage to your lawn from the cold and frost. Preparing your lawn for these conditions will lessen the effort and of time needed to restore your garden grass in spring.
The following are the most important steps that you can take to help your lawn survive winter.
Winter lawn preparation:
- Remove debris: Rake your lawn to get rid of autumn leaf litter, twigs, detritus and weeds. Do this diligently until the lawn area is free of any detritus and other plant matter that might outgrow the lawn over winter.
- Fertilise one last time: Help your lawn get the most out of the last growing weeks with a layer of lawn fertiliser. Organic fertiliser is always best.
- Stop mowing the lawn: Let the grass grow longer than you usually in the last couple of weeks before the real cold of mid-winter sets in. If you live in an area that gets frost, time this to a few weeks before the first frost.
If you live in an area with no frost, estimate the time according to date. Or ‘play it by eye’. You should mow for the last time at least a month before the grass stops growing. You should also time the last mow before the lawn gets brown and patchy if you live in a very dry winter area. Letting the grass grow a little longer than usual just before winter will help your lawn withstand drought, cold and the short days.
Finally, if you can keep your lawn over winter, you can keep it looking good until the weather warms and your grass starts growing again – healthy and green.