Many buffalo lawns can tend to go brown or straw coloured over the winter months. This browning off can make the lawn unsightly for many homeowners, who then seek to find a solution to this occurring. So what is winter brown off in lawns and why does it occur?
There three main reasons for this happening, the first is the type of buffalo grass being grown, some buffalo grass types are more prone to going brown, and sometimes even purple over the winter months. So choosing a good quality turf type is the first priority to avoid winter brown off of buffalo. Next is the fact that as our climate gets cooler where we live, then the more likely it is for buffalo to go brown over the winter time. For example, buffalo grown in Perth is less likely to go brown over winter as a buffalo lawn would do in a colder climate such as Melbourne. And the last factor in considering why buffalo browns off in winter time is correct applications of fertiliser done at the right times of year.
Now considering if we already have a buffalo lawn established and growing on our property, and we can't do anything about the weather where we live, then we really should pay careful attention to our last option in keeping our lawn green for as long as possible through winter.
Why Lawns Go Brown In Winter
Not all lawns will go brown in winter, and there can be many factors which can attribute to a lawn either going brown or staying green over the winter time. But the main reason is that lawns naturally become dormant or semi dormant over winter, and in doing so - some will naturally lose their green colour and brown off.
Healthy Lawns Less Likely To Lose Winter Colour
Going past this initial reason for loss of lawn colour in winter, is the health of the lawn itself. A lawn in good health prior to the onset of winter will maintain its colour better throughout the winter, as it is able to more successfully defend itself from the effects of the cold weather.
The key here for most buffalo lawn owners who want a greener healthier lawn in winter, is to ensure the lawn is in the best health possible prior to winter arriving.
While there isn't a lot that can be done in Autumn to bring a lawn to good health before winter, we can pay careful attention to our fertilising program at this time of the year.
Fertilising Buffalo Grass Before Winter Arrives
While we always recommend a good year round lawn fertilising program, in the case of maintaing winter colour, the practice becomes even more important.
An application of a good quality winter fertiliser in MAY, will do wonders to keep the lawn in a better state of health through winter than anything else we can do.
We have two options in applying winter fertilisers to our buffalo grass.
The first option involves applying a standard winter fertiliser in MAY, and then again in JULY. Winter fertilisers are blended a little differently to normal fertilisers, and contain less nutrients for growth, and instead contain nutrients aimed more at leaf greenness and health.
The second option involves using a high quality slow release lawn fertiliser once in MAY, which will then last throughout the entire winter, with the next application of slow release fertiliser being due when Spring first arrives.
Winter Growth Rates
Applying fertiliser in May and July will have almost no impact on growth rates for buffalo grass in winter because the lawn is already in semi dormancy at this time of the year, and is growing extremely slowly.
Even if growth rates did improve from the application of fertiliser at these times, then this would actually be a very good thing. The overall growth rate in winter would still be minor, but would improve that the lawn would repair more readily from any damage at this time of year, as well as this same growth putting forward new shoots of green leaf, which is exactly what we're aiming for.
Quicker Lawn Green Up In Spring
While there can never be any guarantee of keeping a buffalo lawn green throughout winter, we can do our very best to lessen the worst of the browning off which may occur. Because even if we do fertilise as recommended here, cold weather, the brand of buffalo grass being grown, or even poor lawn health earlier in the year can all still contribute to winter brown off with little that many of us can do to prevent it.
However, fertilising in preparation for winter can lessen the impact of cold weather on our lawns.
On top of this is the added benefit that a lawn which has been fertilised as suggested in this article, will green up in Spring and return to full health much faster than would otherwise be the case if this fertilising program were not undertaken by the homeowner.