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Sprawling green lawn with outdoor furniture.

Overview

When the cooler weather of autumn starts setting in, it’s time to shift your lawn care focus and give your grass a helping hand to prepare for winter. We're sharing expert practical tips to care for your lawn during autumn.

Safety tip: Always wear the appropriate safety equipment (safety glasses, gloves, and a mask, for example) and always follow the instructions for the product or equipment. Always wear gloves and a mask when handling potting mix, mulch and compost, and store products out of the reach of children and pets.

Steps

1Rake up the leaves

It’s important to clear the leaves from your lawn periodically to allow the grass to breathe; this helps to keep your lawn healthy. You can use a rake, leaf blower, vacuum or lawn mower catcher to remove leaves, based on what works best for you and your lawn. (Be mindful of your posture to prevent physical strain.)

Begin raking in one corner and work your way methodically across the lawn, using a gentle pulling motion to collect the debris into piles. Dispose of the collected material in compost or yard waste bags.

A man raking the leaves.

2Change the setting on your lawn mower

As temperatures cool, it’s important to let your grass grow longer. Keeping the grass blades longer in cooler weather will create more insulation and keep the roots protected from the cold. It will also help keep weeds at bay and suppress their growth.

Adjust your mower blades to avoid cutting it too short. Specific grass types like buffalo, Kikuyu, and couch grass have recommended cutting heights and frequencies depending on the season. Remember that your location and climate will also help determine your mowing frequency.

Buffalo grass:

In warmer months: Mow to a height of 3.5cm to 4.5cm every seven to 10 days.

In colder months: Mow every three to six weeks, maintaining the same height.

Kikuyu grass:

In warmer months: Mow to a height of 2.5cm to 5cm every seven to 10 days.

In colder months: Mow at the same height every three to six weeks.

Couch grass:

In warmer months: Mow to a height of 2cm to 4cm every seven to 21 days, depending on your fertilisation frequency.

In colder months: In many parts of New Zealand, couch grass will go dormant and doesn’t require regular or seasonal mowing. The best approach is to mow as required and remove no more than one-third of the blade height to minimise the risk of scalping.

Ryobi lawn mower with person's thumb on the start button.

3Identify areas of thatch

Thatch is a build-up of dead grass and organic matter. It creates a thick, spongy layer that prevents water, air and nutrients from efficiently penetrating the soil. To check for thatch buildup, look for spongy areas, a brownish layer at the grass base, yellowing, weak growth, or overall lawn decline.

To address it, mow the grass shorter than usual and vigorously dethatch with a dethatching rake, which will loosen and remove the thatch layer. In colder climates, thatch is less of a concern, but in regions with no harsh winters and long, hot summers, thatch can become a problem for your lawn.

A person using dethatching rake on lawn.

4 Aerate your lawn

After a busy summer – barbecues, backyard cricket games and active kids and pets – your lawn’s soil may become compacted from all the wear and tear. This is when aeration becomes essential. For smaller areas, you can use a garden fork, while larger areas may benefit from a lawn aerator, like a scarifier.

It’s important not to aerate bone-dry soil, so ensure your soil is adequately moist. Wait a day or so after rain; in tropical areas, give your lawn a good watering a day before aerating. Additionally, consider applying a top dressing. Follow the packaging instructions to apply a thin layer of the mix over the aerated surface.

A man holding a garden fork.

5Know when to water

Depending on your location and grass type, it's important to monitor soil moisture to determine when watering is necessary during the autumn months. Some regions might still experience hot days, requiring more frequent watering. Experienced gardeners can observe leaf blades for dryness, wilting, or discoloration, or you can perform the footprint test to see if the grass bounces back quickly after walking on it. The most accurate way to gauge when to water your lawn is by using a soil moisture meter or by touching the soil. If the soil feels dry to the touch, it's probably time for a water.

A person watering the lawn.

6Apply a lawn fertiliser

To keep your lawn healthy and thriving, it’s essential to select the right lawn fertiliser and use it correctly. Begin by selecting the appropriate fertiliser for your grass type and the season.

To revitalise buffalo lawns after the stress of summer and prepare them for colder weather, use granular PowerFeed. In hotter regions, select a PowerFeed that supports deep root growth, boosts drought resistance, and enhances overall health. In all other regions, prioritise cold tolerance, sustaining winter colour and overall lawn health when choosing a PowerFeed product.

Follow the instructions on the package for the specific product you're using. Ideally, apply the fertiliser with a fertiliser spreader, ensuring even coverage across the lawn. Walk at a consistent pace to prevent overapplication in any areas. It's essential to water your lawn immediately after application, which helps the fertiliser penetrate the soil and prevents any risk of burning the grass. Remember to keep pets and children off the treated area until the fertiliser is watered in and the grass is dry.

Person using Scotts Handy Green Fertiliser Spreader.

7For more seasonal lawn care advice...

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.