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Buffalo Lawn Care
How To Water And Fertilise Warm Season Turf
For warm season turf types like Buffalo, Couch, Kikuyu and Zoysia lawns
The following advice is so you can learn how to water and fertilise warm season turf types like Couch, Kikuyu, Buffalo and Zoysia lawns and won’t be suited to cool climate lawns such as Fescue, Rye Grass, and Blue Grass.
In many parts of Australia, it is critical to water really deeply and not frequently. It is just in places like Perth (because of its extremely sandy soil) that this is a bit more difficult.
For Most of Australia
Watering on a weekly basis in summer is normally enough, provided the water is a deep one. It’s safer to saturate the lawn utilising a sprinkler for roughly an hour or more. This will guarantee the water gets in deep and it will encourage the roots to follow the water down and grow deeper, making your lawn more drought tolerant.
After a lawn has been in a few years and it becomes very drought tolerant, you’ll be able to water heavily every two weeks in summer in some parts of Australia. When it rains, take that into consideration and water less. If rain occurs occasionally during the cooler months lawns rarely need watering.
A lawn will actually inform you when it needs watering. The leaves will start to wilt slightly. In the event that this happens, it is time to water. Water restrictions make deep watering harder, as you are only allowed to water occasionally, and many times manually. In a way, more frequent hand watering actually wastes more water than deep infrequent watering, nevertheless you can only work to the rules. When the rules make it hard to do deep infrequent watering, then just do your best within the rules.
With warm climate turf like Buffalo, Couch, Kikuyu, and Zoysia, they may brown off without any water and water restrictions prevent irrigation, however, when it rains again they will usually come back. In low rainfall areas like inland Australia, grasses with underground runners will survive longer periods of drought. Buffalo is the only one without underground runners, it is a little more important for Buffalo to not allow it to thin out due to long periods of drought. Make an effort not to leave Buffalo brown from drought stress for more than one week whenever possible.
As Perth has sandy soils, the water will quickly leach through the root zone. Getting the roots to grow deep is just as important, so during spring, winter, and autumn, try deeper, less frequent watering. Often you will get away with once weekly in the less hot periods. In the warm summer months, lawns in Perth do better if watered twice a week, which under the regular water restrictions is often all that is allowed.
Often soil becomes hydrophobic, meaning it repels water. If you utilise a wetting agent, it will allow the water to soak in again. Wetting agents are available in liquid forms that may actually be sprayed or hosed on, e.g. Yates Waterwise Hose On Soil Saturator.
Yates Waterwise Soil Saturator for lawns is a product which has dynamic lifter and other elements, so it will also provide some nutritional benefits. Combination products like these make life easier. Another combination product is Scotts Lawn Builder with Wetting Agent. This has a slow release fertiliser, which feeds your lawn for around ten weeks.
Fertilising Your Lawn
Research conducted By Ozbreed Pty Ltd has proven that autumn is the main time to fertilise your lawn. Fertilising in spring for most lawn types is not enough. The minimum fertiliser needed by a lawn is twice every year, but that is only if you are using a slow release fertiliser, like Scotts Lawn Builder, or Yates Lawn Master. These fertilisers last ten weeks per application. So a fertilise a few weeks into autumn is critical, as too is a fertilise in early spring.
Unfortunately, most fertiliser types wouldn’t have special blends for appropriate times of the year. Recently, Ozbreed Pty Ltd released a special Slow release Spring Blend, as well as a Slow Release Autumn/Summer Blend. Spring needs higher nitrogen levels, while autumn and summer need lower nitrogen levels and increased potassium levels for better root growth.
These can only be bought online.
Summer fertilising is also important, but in summer it is very important to not use a fertiliser high in Nitrogen. If you cannot get the special Summer Blend from Ozbreed, then use half rates of the Scotts or Yates slow release fertiliser during summer.
Excessive Nitrogen simply means extra mowing for no benefit. Too much Nitrogen in summer makes the leaves of turf grow really fast, and worse, it can make it more susceptible to some diseases.
Why Slow Release Fertiliser More Suitable
Non slow release chemical fertilisers can burn lawns if not watered in well, but worse still, they quickly dissolve and oftentimes only work for a few days, with the unused portions generally washing away from the lawn and frequently ending up in storm water.
Slow release types dissolve over a long period, which means they are safer for the environment and better value as they simply keep fertilising week after week. Organic fertilisers are better than easily dissolved chemical fertilisers, however, they still release much quicker when compared to a slow release fertiliser, meaning they do not function for as long.
Never Use Weed and Feed Fertilisers
Weed and feed fertilisers are definitely not good for your lawn. Lawn professionals often do not agree on many issues, but this is one matter that finds common ground—they do not like weed and feed products. Weed and feed products have high rates of soluble nitrogen fertilizer that quickly leach into your soil.
They not only disappear quickly, often get washed into drains and storm water and they do very little for the health of your lawn. They simply encourage upward leaf growth and provide a quick green up. They actually do very little for the roots, stolons and rhizomes.
They can cause damage to the soil and the microorganisms within the soil. The ones that work by burning the flat broad leaf weeds can burn your law if they happen to be applied on a hot day without watering in.
If you do in fact water them in quickly they won’t kill the weeds. The ones with chemicals can sometimes hurt Buffalo turf and are highly inefficient. You spread the weed and feed all over the lawn instead of just killing the weeds that need killing in the spots that are infested. It is an overuse of chemicals.
In fact, it has been reported that Canada is banning these kinds of products. Australia probably will not go this far, but if people avoid them, it could be that companies will start to concentrate on their better products.