Common winter lawn problems

(and how to solve them)


Our lawns can look every bit the picture of perfection in the summer months. They’re a vibrant shade of green, the sun’s shining, and the kids are enjoying making daisy chains in the luscious green grass. Then winter hits, and it’s almost like a switch has been flicked.

Rain can turn your previously perfect lawn into a temporary swamp, moss and its distant relations make an unwelcome appearance, and the grass to mud ratio is a little overwhelming. Lawn mowing also becomes a distant memory too as you swap the sunhat and mower for a pair of gumboots and a jacket.

There’s no denying that winter can test our lawns to their absolute limit, but there are ways in which to reduce the impact it has. Keep on top of lawn care and don’t let winter win the battle. Here are four common winter lawn problems and how to solve them.

 

Moss

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No matter how many times you give moss its marching orders, it seems to keep coming back. Not only can moss be an eyesore – crowding your grass and making lawn mowing all the more difficult – but it can also be dangerous. Moss works its way into your lawns, pathways and any crack it can find, creating a slippery layer that heightens the risk of slips and falls. Therefore, getting rid of moss sooner rather than later is crucial not only for your lawn’s appearance and health but your own safety as well.

It’s helpful, first, to understand why moss grows. It doesn’t appear without reason, and you’ll notice a lack of it during summer and in well-lit areas. Moss thrives on shade and dampness, so the more of that you have, the higher the instance of moss. You’ll most likely notice it around the base of trees, around edges of your lawn where fencing creates pockets of shade, and around shaded pathways as well. Anywhere that doesn’t have sun or light is a breeding ground for this unwanted guest.

The problem is, you can tackle the problem with sprays and chemicals, but if you don’t address the cause, you’ll never get rid of the moss. What’s more, spraying your lawn without knowledge of correct lawn care can be a recipe for disaster.

There are many things you can do to give moss on your lawn its marching orders, but it takes time. Firstly, take a look at your lawn area as a whole. Can you rectify the problem by removing the items creating the shade? Where possible, prune trees to allow more sunlight through, and this can dramatically reduce the instance of moss.

If fencing or neighbouring properties are the problem, you might have to take a more proactive approach. Instead of keeping those moss-laden areas as lawn, why not turn them into a garden area with plants that love shade? Alternatively, rake up the moss, add lime to it if previous soil tests show the area is acidic, then fertilise the grass to encourage prosperous growth. 

 

 Shown here - liverwort with moss

Shown here - liverwort with moss

Liverwort

If winter casts a dreary shadow over your lawn, or your soil has poor drainage, you may begin to notice that Liverwort, a dreadful cousin of moss, starts to take over your yard. You may only see it during lawn mowing, but when you do, you’re sure to let out an audible groan. Liverwort is a terrible flat green and stemless plant that causes no end of grief for homeowners. It grows on pathways, lawns, and anywhere with shade or moisture. However, with adequate lawn care, you can remove the problem.

Try to reduce the shade by cutting back plants, aerate the soil to improve drainage, and try to avoid walking on the grass when it’s wet. It may also be beneficial to undertake a soil test as Liverwort tends to grow where nutrient levels are low, and acidity levels are high.

You can then hit Liverwort where it hurts and buy a moss killer. For best effect, apply this before winter or in autumn, and avoid cutting your lawns for at least a week. Once the Liverwort has died, rake it out and use fertiliser or a similar product to promote grass growth.

 

Further reading for lawn articles
- How to prevent lawn frostbite
- What grass is between your toes
- Signs you need to hire a lawn mowing professional

 

Poor drainage

Many sections in Auckland and surrounding areas are sloped. While this can allow us to flex our creative muscles regarding landscaping options, it does create some problems with poor drainage. It can cause your lawn to become patchy, create pooling that doesn’t drain away, and of course, creates a boggy mess you’d rather be without.

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Poor drainage is not something you should leave to get worse. With torrential or relentless rain – particularly in winter months – it can create problems for both you and your neighbours. Therefore, it’s crucial to get on top of the problem sooner rather than later. The most common way to fix poor drainage is through aerating your soil.

When your lawns become compacted, or you have trees dotted throughout your property, the soil tends to clump together and loses its ability to drain water. Trees are by far the biggest problem. If removing the trees is not an option, use a garden fork to create drainage holes. Doing so can encourage rain to go into the ground rather than pool above it.

 

Pet urine stains

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When you’re lawn mowing, you tend to take notice of all the imperfections in every part of your lawn. If you have a dog, you may notice them even more. Aside from little holes dug with little paws, you may also see brown spots burned into the lawns. These burn patches are caused by nitrogen in your dog’s urine. While it might only be a small amount, it’s enough to scorch your lawn to look as if it hasn’t seen water in years.

 

In summer, these burn marks are easily fixed by rapid grass growth, but in winter when the grass sits dormant, the repairing process can’t begin straight away. Before you know it, your lawn looks like a desert wasteland. However, you don’t have to put up with these burns forever as there are many different ways in which to solve the problem. After your dog urinates, you can spray the area with water to dilute it, or you could encourage your dog to either pee in one spot or drink more water to dilute the nitrogen levels. Then, once summer hits, rapid grass growth will solve the problem entirely.

 

There’s no denying that winter can cause no end of trouble in our backyards, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be the ones in control.
Stay on top of lawn care and reap the rewards of a lawn area that stands up to the elements all year round.

If you need a bit more help around the garden this winter - be sure to get in contact with Crewcut for some helpful advice. 


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7 Safety Tips to Teach Your Children before They Mow Your Lawn

It’s a rite of passage for some children to learn how to do the lawn mowing. Some entrepreneurial kids want to mow your lawn as well as everyone else’s in your neighbourhood to make money mowing lawns.

And yet, before your son or daughter turns on that mower for the first time, there are some safety precautions you need to teach them.

In this article, you’ll learn seven safety tips that you need to show your children before they start mowing your lawn.

 

1: Make Sure Your Child Is the Right Age

You may have a son or daughter who wants to help out with chores at home. Some parents even set up a chore chart and give an allowance.

But you need to consider your child’s age before you allow them to start the mower.

Just like you won’t let your child drive your car until they’re 16 and has their learner licence, you shouldn’t allow your child to operate a push lawn mower until they’re 12.

The American Pediatric Society recommends that the minimum age to start using a push lawn mower is 12, and the riding mower is 16 years of age.

 

2: Teach Your Child to Wear Eye and Hearing Protection

As a homeowner, you know how loud lawn mowers can be, so it’s reasonable to expect your child to wear hearing protection.

Since stones and twigs found in the garden can become projectile missiles, it’s imperative that your child wears eye protection too.

Additionally, it’s vital that your son or daughter wear closed-toe shoes. The mower blades are going about 257 kmph and will easily injure them if they’re barefoot or only wearing jandals while cutting the grass.

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3: Teach Your Child to Pick Up All Garden Debris before Mowing

A garden tidy is important to think about before the lawns are mowed. Rocks, twigs, children’s toys and lawn furniture should be picked up or moved before your young mower starts working in the garden.  Little children or pets should either be moved indoors or to another area of your lawn before your pre-teen starts mowing.

 

4: Only Use Mowers That Automatically Turn Off

Whether it’s your 12-year old using the push mower or your 16-year old driving the riding mower, your mower should stop as soon as your son or daughter lifts their hand off the handle or gets off of the riding mower.

 

5: Make Sure You’re Home When Your Son or Daughter Is Using the Lawn Mower

Don’t tempt fate by leaving your home while your child is using the mower. Even if your child is trustworthy, anything can happen. And you want to be there in case of an accident or injury.

 

6: Read the Mower’s Instructions and Teach Your Child to Follow Them

To prevent a disaster, always read your lawn mower’s instruction book. Then teach your child how to use the mower based on the instructions. Your child will need to learn how to fill the gas tank too. So, you’ll need to teach them to turn off the mower and let it cool down before adding more gas.

 

7: Safety Trumps Perfection Every Time

Finally, you may need to make an exception to the rule for the perfect mowed lawn. Your child is learning a new skill and it takes time to make sure all rows are even.

Your grass will continue to grow, and you’ll still need to get the lawn mowing done every week. So give your kids a break if they missed a row or two on your lawn.

 

Whether your daughter or son wants to cut only your lawn or they want to earn some extra money by starting a grass cutting business for all the neighbours, make sure they’re at the right age and maturity before they turn on the ignition.

On the other hand, if you’re a busy family and your kids don’t have time to cut the grass, you may want to consider a professional lawn mowing service, such as Crewcut. We only use the best mowers, and you don’t have to worry about our operators getting hurt either.

At Crewcut, we provide hedge and tree trimming services as well as gardening services. We’re located throughout New Zealand. Check out our “Your Backyard” tab on our homepage to find your local Crewcut service provider.

Do you need professional lawn mowing services? If you live in New Zealand, call us free at 0800-800-286, or you can fill out our contact form.

At Crewcut, we serve the following New Zealand regions: Auckland, Bay of Islands, Christchurch, Dargaville, Franklin, Hawkes Bay, Hokianga, Hutt Valley, Kapiti, Manawatu, Nelson, New Plymouth, Otago, Rodney, Rotorua, Taupo, Tauranga, Timaru, Waikato, Wanganui and Wellington.


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Signs you need to hire a lawn mowing professional
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The end of summer is nearing and scorching hot days are now replaced with muggy, humid, tropical weather. Not so good for you, but great for your lawns and gardens which are thriving. However, it’s hard to keep up the lawn maintenance when any free time you have; it’s either raining, or you’ve succumbed to the humidity and fallen asleep.

It may be time for you to hire a professional to look after your lawns – and to keep you sane.

If you’re the one mowing lawns in the house, you know the struggle and preparation required to keep your lawns looking good. But you’ve convinced yourself it’s the cheaper option, and it may be all you’ve ever known. But, when you look at it this way, DIY lawns firstly involves investigating for hours the best type of mower to purchase. Then figuring out and purchasing what else you need - weed eaters, clippers, regular blade sharpening and a whole lot more you come across on ventures in the garden. Grandad may frown upon getting a lawn professional rather than doing it yourself – but this is 2017! Who has the time for it? Especially you Aucklanders who spend more time in traffic than you do at home.

Imagine, no more fearing of what that clanging noise is coming from the mower, or wondering whether you’ve gotten too close to the rock wall and ruined the blades. You can now look at your lawn and enjoy it rather than counting down the days until it’s next trim. No more nagging, or rushing to get home and tend to the garden before guests arrive.

If you have experienced the feelings above, you should know a professional lawn mowing operator will relieve all of this. A professional will have top notch equipment, experience and is only a call away. If you still don’t believe it’s time for you to step away from the mower, you’re most likely in denial with these common excuses:
 


1. It’s ‘exercise’

Sweating it out doing the lawns may seem like a good idea at the time, but heading to the gym can be just as effective and will leave you without the t-shirt tan lines. A quick mow can often take longer than expected in the heat, leaving you red-faced and regretting spending so much time in the sun.
 

2. It’s the ‘man’ thing to do

Your time is precious – if you’d rather be elsewhere on a nice day do it! Rest easy, You shouldn’t need the excuse of having mowed the lawns to have a cold one! Put your feet up to some cricket while you watch someone else do the hard work, or better yet - get out and about on a nice day.
 

3. ‘It teaches my kids character’

You’ll be lucky if you can get your kids to mow your lawns, and if you do it’s for a price. As always, it will be left half-done, or not quite to your standard- much as it is when they wash your car. Soon enough they’ll learn about inflation and you’ll be wondering why you ever let them have control in the first place!

4. Too pricey

As said before, the equipment alone is expensive, the upkeep and especially if you think paying your kids is the way to go, then there's always money involved. By paying a professional you’re spending that little bit extra for top quality cuts every time and peace of mind – which is well worth it.


So, have you been convinced that getting a professional may be worth it’s while? Some people simply enjoy mowing their own lawns. If that’s you, keep up the good work by all means. There is a great pride in a bit of physical labour, especially when rewarded with a beautifully manicured lawn. But if you want to save some money, time, and stress, you know what to do. Let the lawns be someone else's responsibility.

 

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Contact Crewcut today to organise your free lawn mowing quote. Our operators are servicing backyards all around the country!

 

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What To Do With A Dry Lawn
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Ahh the famed Kiwi Summer. Days out playing backyard cricket, wearing jandals and gathering around the BBQ. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, you gaze out and notice the lawn is slowly drying out and getting brown! It’s the last thing you want, when you’re spending time out in the sun - but fear not it can be fixed!

 

 

Here are some tips to help prevent your lawn from drying out even further. 

 

  • Continue to cut it, but don’t cut it too short
    When you cut your lawn too short, it hinders the grass’ ability to produce energy for growth. However if you leave it a little bit longer, the grass will have a better chance of growing thicker and stronger roots which will keep it lasting better, even in extreme climates. Our Crewcut operators know the perfect height at which to cut your lawn, just be sure to check with them when they next come over. 
     

  • Time it right with the watering
    Often when people see their lawn drying out, they think the best thing to do is to saturate the lawn in water every day. This can be very risky. Instead, do a deep soak of the lawn a few times a week. Make sure to do this in the evening as it will give the water time to soak the roots - instead of evaporating during the day. 
     

  • Be careful with the fertiliser
    While a bit of fertiliser can help with the lawn growth, make sure not to be too heavy handed. This can often burn the lawn.

    With all these things in mind - we know how difficult it can be to keep the lawn looking its best. Trust us, we have over 25 years experience. If you're thinking you need a little bit extra help, be sure to contact the friendly Crewcut team - we can offer advice or extra garden services. 


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How to prevent lawn frostbite
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It’s quite chilly these days in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Lucky for us, we can turn up the heating. But just think how it must be for your grass out there. Our grass puts up with a lot, but sometimes the colder weather can be a bit too ‘nippy’.

Many plants go into dormancy over the colder periods and can lose their green colour. Freezing temperatures can turn your lawn brown, but don’t fret, this is perfectly normal. Don’t fertilise your lawn during winter, instead wait for the natural cycle to occur during the spring season. Remember to water your plants and grass as they still need to keep hydrated during the colder months. Drought even in winter can cause the roots to dry up and die. 

‘So, when should I water my plants and grass’ you might be asking?
The simple answer is: do it in the morning. This way the moisture has plenty of time to soak into the soil. If it’s done at night, sometimes it doesn’t evaporate well at night which means it stays on the blades and encourages fungal growth. You don’t need to water as much as you would in summer, about half of what you would have done. 

Another tip is to cut your lawn perhaps longer than you normally would. This reduces the risk of ‘scalping’ which is cutting the lawn too short and making it susceptible to weeds and further damage. 

These simple tips will keep your lawn happy in the colder months and prevent those unwanted brown leaves.


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What grass is between your toes?
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You may think that grass is a one type suits all, but you’d be mistaken. In New Zealand alone there are about 6 common grasses that are typically used in backyards. It’s important to know what type you have or type you want as this will determine how often you need to water, or if it’s appropriate for children and pets.

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Tall fescue

This is the lush green carpet stuff that tolerates shade. It needs plenty of watering throughout the summer months. Tall fescue is the most recommended for Auckland. 


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Fine fescue

This is similar to the tall fescue except that it has a very fine leaf. It doesn’t live well in humid environments as it easily attracts fungal diseases. Therefore it doesn’t work too well in Auckland but instead in Christchurch.


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Couch grass

This is the rugged grass that is becoming more popular. It needs to be in the full sun as it doesn’t cope well in shade and frost. In these conditions the grass can become dormant, but will flourish again when soil temperatures increase. This is the most ideal for children and pets as it grows sideways - making it quite sturdy. It would be good for any location with full sun or by the beach as it manages with high salt concentration. 


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Kikuyu grass

Very similar to the couch grass but is available in an instant form.


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Rye grass

This is popular as a sports field grass especially during winter as it has a positive recovery. Doesn’t like the shade too much and it needs ongoing watering. This is good for full sun exposure. 


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Mixed blend

This can be one of the more undesirable breeds of grass as it has a blend of different seeds. As a result there can be a mixture of weeds and it can become expensive to maintain. 


Whatever grass you have, Crewcut can keep it tidy. We have the know-how and the skills to keep it in top condition, year round!


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