Perhaps you plan on planting a new one? Now’s the time to make your move.
A good lawn is a reflection of its foundations so, if you are laying a new lawn, it’s important to get this part right. Remove any pre-existing lawn, or clear the area of weeds and any kind of debris. If the soil is hard and compact, hire a rotary hoe to break it up, which benefits root establishment. Level the area, spread a ‘lawn starter soil mix’ over the top (up to 10cm deep) and broadcast some organic fertiliser. Keep in mind that the final soil level should be at least 2-3cm below any adjoining pathways and patios.
Lay your turf on the day it’s delivered by the turf supplier, and make sure you water the soil beforehand. Follow the perimeter first, then fill the voids, ensuring each roll butts up nicely to the next. Stagger the arrangement of the roll ends for a better finish. Going over the laid lawn with a roller – which you can hire – ensures good contact with the soil, which helps the lawn to establish quickly. Give the lawn a deep soak immediately after it’s laid and keep the area moist, watering daily initially, then reducing the regularity as it establishes. In a few weeks, if you can’t lift the turf off the ground, then you know the roots are established and you can give it its first mow.
Sowing lawn seed is a fast and economical alternative to laying turf. Use a hand-spreader to distribute the seed evenly over your prepared soil, and then cover it with a 3-5mm layer of topsoil. Water it in well, and keep the soil moist for even germination. Tie off the area to keep foot or animal traffic out and, if weeds appear, be vigilant about removing them. Mow when the shoots are about 10cm tall, but only remove cutting grass 2cm of growth, leaving grass to thicken up.
Modern Turf Varieties
Tolerance to drought or shade, and low maintenance, are the factors driving modern turf breeding and development. Here’s a wrap-up of some of the latest options available:
Sir Walter Buffalo Grows in up to 70 per cent shade.
Palmetto Buffalo Drought tolerant. Good winter colour.
Sapphire Buffalo Finer leaf than other buffalo grasses.
Zoysia Slow growth, so less mowing. Good winter colour.
Kenda kikuyu Recovers well from frost and damage. Great for dogs. Drought tolerant.
Liriope Muscari ‘Isabella’ For 100 per cent shade. Lush year-round. Mow in August.
Now is the time to control weeds that establish in lawns over winter. Bindii is a common culprit and, if it flowers, you are in for nasty spikes underfoot. Others, such as dandelion, capeweed, plantain, cat’s ear and wintergrass, enjoy collective domination of turf areas. If you use a hand weeder, make sure you get all the roots. Specialised lawn weeder products kill the weeds in 7-10 days.
Moss often establishes in cold, shady areas. To treat, dilute powdered iron sulfate in a watering can, following packet directions, then apply.
In high-traffic wetter areas, soil can compact, so you’ll need to loosen it up. Plunge a garden fork deeply into the soil at 20cm intervals and wiggle it back and forth. If that just screams impossible, you could try aerating shoes or hire a corer.
To fix bare patches, plant lawn seed, or runners from adjacent areas, or lay turf (see ‘New Lawns’), which you can buy from most garden centres.
Regular feeding keeps your lawns healthy and green. It’s ideal to fertilise lawns in spring and autumn. Modern slow-release lawn fertilisers last about 10 weeks and are easy to apply. You don’t need to water them in as they won’t burn the lawn. Broadcast by hand, or buy or hire a fertiliser spreader (left) to ensure even distribution.
If your lawn is lumpy and uneven, or lacking vigour, then top-dressing could be just the thing to smooth it out and bring it back into shape. Order a top dressing mix from your landscape supplier that’s sandy and high in organic matter. Spread it over the areas in need, and rake it level with a steel rake or lawn leveller, which you can hire. Make sure the leaf tips still poke through – it should be no deeper than 10mm. You should see results in one week to a month.
This article was penned by Ally Jackson Gardening Australia Magazine,