Lawn & Gardening Tips for October

Once the initial burst of spring growth has settled down then summer active lawns can be scarified to reduce thatch. Irrigate immediately afterwards and fertilise a week later.

This month is ideal to plant couch and kikuyu sod, stolons or seed, or to repair thin patches in a lawn.

High traffic lawns are subject to soil compaction which restricts required gas exchange in the root zone, reduces water infiltration and percolation, and decreases water holding capacity of the soil. Hollow tine core aeration is recommended to alleviate the compaction problem and should be performed while there are several weeks of good growing conditions remaining before summer. Leave the pulled plugs on the turf surface until they are dry and can easily be broken up by raking or dragging a piece of chain link fence over them. The soil from the plugs will help thatch decomposition by providing an environment for plant tissue-degrading microorganisms.

Dandelions are in full bloom. Dandelions are best controlled in the autumn with herbicides with spring treatments being second. If treating for dandelions this spring, control is best achieved after the dandelions have bloomed. Herbicide applications early in spring before bloom are not as effective. Maintaining a dense turf through proper fertilisation, and mowing at the proper height of cut can reduce dandelion populations over time. Thin, low-density turf mowed at a low height encourages large dandelion populations.

Pop-up sprinklers: This is a good opportunity to service lawn irrigation sprinklers, so that they are ready for the warmer weather. Grass roots grow into the pop-up canister around the piston gland seal, preventing the piston from “popping up”. Unscrew the cap and remove root growth, and wash the filter screen in the base of the piston. Check that grit or ants do not obstruct the nozzle holes. Reset irrigation controller run times if the back-up battery has discharged as programs will have reverted to built-in default times.  This month, summer active lawns will require about 9mm per week of supplementary irrigation to survive.

Mulching is useful to conserve soil moisture and reduce weed growth, but do not continue the mulch right up to the plant stems, as this encourages collar rot disease.

Hedges of privet and Plumbago are in active growth through until March. Regular trimming every two to four weeks will keep them tidy, and encourage a compact bushy habit. Ivy is also growing strongly, and needs to be kept clipped.

Lavender responds well to a hard prune now, to bring it to a more desirable size and shape. Further trimming can be performed in late summer and again in early winter. Lavender seems to flower almost continuously in Adelaide, and it is difficult to decide when to prune. This is why we see straggly bushes in almost every garden.

Most forms of daisy bush (Marguerite, Euryops, etc) have almost stopped flowering.  They are best kept lightly pruned to prevent leggy growth. Cut them back now and they will be flowering again during December. Trim them back again as soon as flowering slows down around the end of autumn.