The Queensland climate can be hard on lawns and just like us, they have triggers for stress that we should be aware of so we can take appropriate action as soon as possible to limit the damage caused.
While it doesn’t happen all that often in Queensland, some winters and some locations do have the odd cold snap and frost which can affect lawns. The best news is that simple frost cannot kill your lawn. It may discolour it but that’s largely a temporary, cosmetic issue.
In Queensland, most of our lawns are warm season grasses and they do not contain IRI proteins which means they will freeze if it gets cold enough and of course when you freeze a plant, you damage its cell walls which is why it loses its colour.
But, as soon as winter turns to spring, your lawn will awake from its winter dormancy and begin to grow again, re-growing the blades that have been burnt so don’t worry too much if your lawn takes a colour hit this winter. There are a few things you can do to reduce the overall effects including fertilising during Autumn with a high potassium mineral fertiliser such as Emerald Green. Fertilising won’t stop discolouration entirely but it will make the lawn more cold tolerant.
The first way to help with your lawn staying healthy throughout a drought is to select and install a drought tolerant grass variety such as Sir Walter soft leaf Buffalo. Using good watering practices (even before any drought) will help to encourage a deeper and healthier root system.
Some other ways to eliminate the damage cause by drought is to ensure that your lawn is aerated as required so that water can penetrate the soil, and adding wetting agents to help your lawn to absorb the water it does receive. Keeping the lawn a little longer will reduce the effects of evaporation and stress.
Keeping your lawn prepared for a potential fire is a bit of a balancing act; you want to have the lawn fairly short and regularly mowed to reduce the amount of potential fuel but you don’t want it to be any shorter than 50mm or the weeds will take over, adding fuel. A well-kept lawn can provide a valuable, natural fire break around your home.
Most grass varieties can handle a few days of flooding without long lasting damage. If you receive flooding, the best thing you can do is to allow the water to drain away naturally and reduce traffic to avoid soil compaction.
When the water is gone, remove any debris. Often silt and soil will be left behind; if it is up to 20mm you can spread this evenly over the lawn with a rake as a top dressing. If it is over 20mm you will need to use a shovel to remove the excess and then spread the remainder with a rake as a top dressing. Resist the urge to fertilise at this time in Queensland– just aerate the soil if needed.
Flooding can make your lawn prone to weeds, disease and pests so keep an eye on it while it recovers. If the flooding last more than a few days, a new lawn installation might be your only option.