Seasonal Autumn Maintenance Guide: Keep your Garden and Water Systems in Top Condition!

04/03/2019 01:00PM

March signals the start of autumn in Australia with the days getting shorter and the temperature cooling down. It’s a great time to be outside in the garden with some new plantings and renovating existing lawns and gardens.

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 Autumn is a signal that your lawn deserves some TLC following a long, hot summer but before the harsh winter months ahead. If you have been holding off establishing a new lawn now is the time to get started as the conditions are now ideal for rapid establishment.

Watering:
Keep the moisture levels up , apply water in the early morning while it’s still cool. Late watering is not recommended, as it may encourage fungal growth.
 Try aerating with a  ‘Hollow Tine’ tool or Aerator Sandals. This relieves compaction, allows air to penetrate the root zone, and increases drainage – all things a drought tolerant lawn will benefit from. Another application of a wetting agent – such as Wett Up – will also help water penetrate the soil and into the root zone.

Fertilising:
 Providing your lawn with a good feed in autumn is considered essential for ensuring it has the energy reserves and strength to survive the shorter daylight hours and colder conditions to come. This will help to promote consistent growth, stimulate strong root development, and encourage vibrant colour for longer as we approach winter, especially for warm season grasses (such as Couch, Buffalo, Zoysia, and Kikuyu.)
The best fertilisers to use are slow-releasing NPK formulas (such as Sir Walter Fertiliser) which contain optimal levels of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K), as well as plenty of essential minerals and trace elements required to maintain a healthy lawn.

Weeding:
 Despite the harsh conditions experienced during summer, one of the seasons most common and annoying lawn weeds – the bindii – tends to take hold in autumn.  You can help combat the spread of weeds by stimulating dense and healthy growth in your lawn with the use of fertilisers – this method can assist in pushing bindii out of the picture by providing less space to grow.
 If you notice any new plants beginning to take hold, applying a chemical treatment may be beneficial. Using a selective herbicide for lawn weeds is recommended.

Mowing:
 Continue to maintain the mowing height of your lawn, particularly in shaded areas of the garden. Leaving between 50-70mm of leaf on your lawn will offer an improved leaf surface zone to encourage photosynthesis, ensuring the grass is able to create essential sugars required for its general wellbeing.
 By mowing higher during the autumn months, you are also preparing your lawn for the harsh winter. Preserving leaf length allows inevitable frost to exclusively affect the tips of the grass, leaving healthy growth underneath.

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 Autumn is the ideal time of the year to give your garden some attention, because air temperatures have cooled but soil temperatures are still warm. These are perfect conditions for planting new species of flora, transplanting existing plants, or creating new plants from cuttings.

Watering:
Water remains essential for the health of your plants, but equally so is the process of delivering that water. Ensure your system is applying evenly and at the appropriate frequency. Most plants still require watering around twice a week to remain adequately hydrated.  Another application of a wetting agent – such as Wett Up – will also help water penetrate the soil and root zone.

 Fertilising:
 Applying a quality fertiliser to your garden during the autumn months is highly recommended. Utilising a well-balanced fertiliser (containing nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and calcium) will encourage plants cells to thicken, ensuring your plants are more resilient against fungal growth and disease throughout the wet, cold winter months.

Weeding:
 Depending on the size of your garden and how much of a problem the weeds present, you may require weeding. Regularly checking your yard for weeds also allows the chance to check for insect attack or disease.
 To ensure weeds don’t reappear following removal, place them directly into a bucket or bag while you work. This will help prevent seeds falling back into your garden, which will encourage the growth of new weeds and begin the process again.

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 Autumn is a shoulder period for irrigation, which means that most areas will still require regular watering to thrive. As Autumn progresses you may find that automatic cycles reduce and your garden is capable of surviving on rainfall with the occasional manual irrigation cycle.

Adjusting:
Now is the time to change the seasonal adjustments on your irrigation controller  and/or reduce the frequency of watering. Check your rain or moisture sensors to ensure they are in the correct position for collecting data and not blocked by eaves, overhanging trees, or any other obstacles.
 If you have an old controller, now is the time to consider upgrading to a new smart control system that collects weather data and can be controlled from anywhere by Blutooth and WiFi.

By introducing the new features offered by smart controllers and installing a rain sensor, you can save money and time tending to your garden!

Assessing & Servicing:
 Just because summer has passed doesn’t mean you should neglect your irrigation system. You will need it throughout the Autumn and Spring will roll around before you know it.  It is an ideal time to book an irrigation service for assessment, maintenance and upgrades on your system.
 Our friendly team at Smart Water can visit you on site to ensure everything is in working order when the warm season comes around again.

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Inspection:
Regular maintenance of your rain water harvesting is vital if you want to have a healthy household. Checks should be conducted seasonally, and the beginning of autumn is an ideal time . Any inspection must include all the elements that contribute to  the smell, taste, and look of your water. See below for more info.                                                                                                                                      

Cleaning:
 Regular cleaning of your rainwater harvesting system’s components is recommended to ensure you are receiving the best quality water possible. Check for  debris has not accumulated in your gutters or strainer baskets and that your plumbing is watertight and your  filter are clean. Inspecting and maintaining your rain heads, first flush diverters, downpipes and other fittings. Trimming overhead branches and carrying out other garden maintenance tasks can also help to prevent the likelihood of materials building up.
Checking for accumulation of sludge at  the bottom of your tank,. Siphon it out or completely empty the tank. Professional tank cleaners operate in most areas and are able to empty your tank quickly and efficiently.. See our “How to create a Rainwater Harvesting System” publication for further info.

Treatment:
 If you use your rainwater harvesting system to collect drinking water, using treatments to destroy any harmful bacteria and viruses present is essential. Animal and bird droppings, dust, dirt and decaying vegetable matter (such as leaves) can contaminate tank water and lead to the presence of dangerous bacteria, such as E Coli and streptococci. Use this time at the beginning of autumn to keep your water quality to a healthy standard.

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A correctly selected and installed water pump will give many year of trouble free life particularly when installed properly in the first place. Always install your pump on an elevated base with a ventilated weatherproof cover over the top. Install a suction strainer and make sure plumbing is of the correct size.

Keep your filters clean and observe any water or air leaks. Attend to any problems promptly. Some maintenance you can resolve on your own, while other problems may require an experienced pump technician to remove the unit for repair.

If you notice any of the following problems, contact Smart Water Shop for advice:

Reduced Water – If your water pump runs but doesn’t deliver water, there may be a fault within the pump. Pump impellers and seals may fail, and foreign matter or debris from the tank can clog the pump internals. Low water levels within a tank can also cause dry-run failure.
Stopped Pump – If your pump/motor system stops running, you may have an electrical fault or foreign matter or broken component seizure.
Cycling – One of the most common problems with water pumps is shortened run cycles. If you notice your pump runs for shorter or more rapid cycles, call Smart Water for service and support. Short cycles are often the result of faults within the pumps auto-pressure control or an indication of leaky pipes/taps and if left unchecked will dramatically reduce the life of the pump.

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 As summer comes to an end and autumn fast approaches, everyone begins spending less and less time entertaining outdoors. This makes autumn the ideal time to carry out some basic maintenance on your water garden, fish pond, or backyard water features. Thoroughly inspecting for issues or damage, ensuring filters and equipment are all in working condition, and checking the health of your fish and other wildlife are all important steps you should take before the winter arrives.

Inspecting:
 It is important at the beginning of the season to inspect the overall condition of your pond or water garden. Each piece of equipment should be thoroughly checked for wear and damage (including pumps, filters, lights, all cables, tubing, and connections.) If significant damage or wear is found, repairing or replacing the damaged components prior to winter arriving is recommended.

Filtration:
 For ponds with fish or other wildlife present, giving your filters and filtration system a thorough clean as summer ends can help prevent significant issues popping up later on during the year.
 If string algae or green water algae’s begin to appear, check your filtration system to return your water to a healthy state.

Cleaning:
 Be sure to remove all decaying leaves and flowers, accumulated sediment, soils and debris from your pond (as well as areas directly surrounding your pond) before they have the chance to decay and pollute your water.

Fish Care:
 If your pond or water garden is populated by fish, now is the time you should switch them to a lower protein diet as their metabolism slows with the approaching cold weather. They will eat less and less throughout autumn into winter, also decreasing the amount of waste produced as a result.
 As your fish’s metabolism decreases, they will slow down and become easy prey for other wildlife, such as birds. Adding a pond net or guard to your ecosystem can help prevent bird predation.

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 You should conduct seasonal inspections and maintenance on your outdoor entertaining or landscape lighting fixtures to ensure a beautiful and well-lit outdoor area year around. As the summer weather calms down and colder temperatures arrive, there is no better time than now to check that your lighting system is in top condition to survive the winter months.

Inspecting:
 Inspecting your lighting fixtures can help you identify which ones are broken, failing, or aging, and allow you the time to upgrade or replace the units before winter sets in. Pay particular attention to the wiring – check for signs of wear and replace any damaged sections of wire or heat shrink joints, in order to ensure your system remains waterproof in the wetter months.
 If you notice that your fixture is too far gone – there’s excessive corrosion, the mechanical integrity has been compromised, or the lens has broken or is missing – then replacing the light may be more cost effective than having it repaired.

Cleaning:
 Checking if any lights have been accumulating excess dirt and dust is a quick and easy way of brightening up your yard. Lumens can be lost from dirt and bug matter building up on the globe and lens, so ensuring you keep your landscape lighting fixtures clean also ensures you’re receiving the most efficient light possible.

Upgrading:
 Replace your cheap fixtures, burned out globes, or broken lamps with long-lasting LED options – their long lifetime means they require less frequent replacement, and the ensuing labour savings and low-energy consumption justify the slightly higher input cost.
 You can help prevent globes burning out from unnecessary over-use by installing timers and sensors to activate the lights automatically.