HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR LAWN

Laying Your Turf

Watering Your Turf

Watering your lawn

Fertilising Your Lawn

Mowing Your Lawn

Mowing Your Lawn

Weed & Pest Control

LAYING TURF

Before  Laying Turf

After picking up or having your turf delivered lay it as soon as possible. In cooler weather it may be left in the shade and the rolls kept moist for a few hours longer.

Soil Preparation

Before laying your turf make sure your underlay is at a depth of 60-100mm and is kept 30mm lower than your driveway, paths, or fence to allow for an even finish. The ideal soil for your underlay is sandy loam.

For areas where the sand ratio is much higher add in a sandy loam topsoil at 60-100mm or if only slightly higher add a wetting agent to improve the soils water holding capacity underneath the turf. Soils with a higher clay content will need the drainage improved. This is done by removing 100-150mm of the clay soil and replacing it with sandy loam and gypsum. Using a rake spread out your topsoil over your area and with a soil spreader (not detrimental) level out your topsoil for an even and finely ground finish.

How to Lay Turf

  1. Begin by rolling out your turf against the longest straight line in your yard which may be a footpath, driveway, fence etc. If your area is a square, start by laying the turf in one corner butting it up nicely against the edge to minimise water loss. When laying the next roll down make sure to place it firmly against the end of the last roll so the edges are butted up nicely, again to minimise water loss and dying off.

Note- do not kneel or stretch the turf as to not disturb the root system.

  1. When you have finished laying your first row and are starting the next, be sure to roll out the turf in a brick-like pattern. Start the roll half-way up the first roll to avoid the joins being in the same position helping to retain moisture and again minimise drying off. It is important to lay the turf across any slopes not down to prevent soil run-off.
  2. Continue laying in a brick pattern and using a sharp spade or knife, cut the turf to fit.
  3. To ensure there are no air pockets between the turf and soil, smooth out the turf using a light water filled roller or use the back side of your rake gently push the turf down. This will ensure there is adequate contact between the roots and soil.

Apply a starter fertiliser making sure to follow the application instructions as too much can burn the lawn. It is important to get an even coverage of the fertiliser so make sure when spreading to start from one corner and work your way back. Thoroughly water in the fertiliser, see watering below.

laying turn in maitland

WATERING

Watering your new lawn

Watering your lawn within 20-30minutes after installation is critical. Your lawn should receive atleast 20-25ml of water making sure no corners or edges are missed as they will dry out and die off quickly, especially in warmer weather. To make sure you are providing your lawn with enough water, place a straight sided container or rain gauge onto your lawn to get an indication of how much you’re watering.

If you are laying turf over a large area on a hot day, start watering after you have laid a small section or half the area. The idea is to keep the soil underneath the turf moist until the root system has been established into the underlay- about 4-5 weeks in cooler months and 2-3 weeks in warmer months.

A correct lawn care watering program for new lawns will always remain the judgement call of the lawn owner when following the most important rule of maintaining a moist lawn at all times.

Warmer months

In warmer weather, especially during hot summer days, newly laid turf will require a lot more water than if it were laid during the cooler months of winter. It is crucial during the initial establishment stage to monitor your soil moisture making sure the first 10cm of soil beneath your lawn is always moist. In very hot or windy weather your turf will require more water than on still, cooler days so it is vital to watch the leaf of your grass looking for any thinning out. If thinning out occurs, you will need to increase your watering.

Week 1-2:  2-4 times a day (early morning, mid-morning, late afternoon, evening)

Week 3-4:  1-2 times every second day (weather and soil dependent)

Week 5-6:  2 times a week (deep soaking)

Week 7+:  Once a week (deep soaking 15-20ml)

Above is a guide to watering your newly laid turf in the warmer months, however, it must be noted that weather conditions and soil properties will play a major role in the water requirements for your lawn.

On windy days, your lawn will dry out quicker as it increases the evaporation rates of the grass blades so will require more frequent watering to maintain moisture in the soil and grass roots.

Be aware the type of soil you have will determine how fast or slow the water you put onto your turf will drain away. The ideal soil ratio for your lawn is a 60% sand 40%soil combination and soils will higher sand percentages will mean your soil will drain quicker and dry out before soils with higher clay content.

Cooler Months

The idea that turf cannot be laid in the winter months is an idea that many people have gotten wrong over the years. In truth turf can be laid all year round with there being benefits to laying down a new lawn during the cooler months.

The fact that your new lawn will require significantly less water in cooler months compared to summer is attractive to those with busy work schedules and family life. Although a new lawn still needs some water to establish successfully in winter, the amount required is nearly halved meaning less water usage, time, and effort to maintain a healthy new lawn ready to thrive in the spring.

Week 1-2:  1-2 times a day (early morning, mid-afternoon)

Week 3-4:  Once a day– every second day (weather and soil dependent)

Week 5-6:  once a week (deep soaking)

Week 7+:  Once every 7-10 (deep soaking 15-20ml)

Once your lawn has established it root system you can begin to follow the “Watering established lawn” below.

Watering Established lawn

How do you know when to water your established lawn? It’s easy, water your grass when you see these three signs:

  1. Curled up leaf blades in the evening (wilting blades during the highest heat of midday sun is not a good indicator – always check the condition of the leaves in the evening).
  2. Blue-grey colour instead of green.
  3. Footprints or lawn mower tire tracks remain visible long after being made.

But remember none of the above signs indicate your lawn is about to die. Your turf has the ability to turn brown and go dormant but stay alive for three to four weeks during periods of long dry.

However, if you go for three to four-weeks without rain, water the grass long enough to moisten the top 12cm of soil – this keeps the grass alive.

Watering at the right time

The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning before it gets hot.

Most of the water will be absorbed to the roots, and the grass blades will dry quickly, preventing disease problems.

The rule to remember is infrequent and deep watering in the early morning for 10 to 15 minutes is preferable for your lawn because the roots will only grow as deep as the most frequently available water supply.

Watering in Drought Conditions and Water Restrictions

Many lawns across Australia will at some stage suffer from drought or water restrictions. You water your lawn during drought conditions when the leaf blades start to wilt. A dormant lawn will respond to deep watering or rainfall. By watering your lawn thoroughly and deeply you encourage the development of strong root growth in your lawn. Many lawns across Australia will at some stage suffer from drought or water restrictions – but there are easy tips that help keep watering to a minimum. In Australia, most lawns are warm season grasses meaning they are very hardy and need very little water to survive. Warm season grasses include, Buffalo, Kikuyu, Couch and Zoysias. When temperatures are high turf naturally enters a state of dormancy where they start to shut down tissue growth to prevent moisture loss.

Water restrictions are a constant burden on lawn owners in Australia. The good news is you can still maintain a healthy lawn during water restrictions. It is important to always check with your Council regarding the level of your water restrictions and how often you can water.

Is your lawn dormant or dead?

Dormancy is the natural survival mechanism that allows your turf to stay alive longer when under stress. Generally, most warm season grasses will sit dormant until the next watering or rainfall. Most importantly – the difference between dormant and dead turf is found by looking at the lawn’s crown at the base of the leaves. The crown generally sits at the soil line and is also where the shoot and root section of the grass meet. The turf’s crown is a highly active growing point that pushes the stem (the leaf blades) upward. If the lawn’s crown is white to off white, then there is a high chance that the plant is still alive (see image left). A dead lawn appears dry, brown and brittle across the plant from the leaves down to the base of the crown.

Water less frequency – thoroughly and deeply

By watering your lawn thoroughly and deeply you encourage the development of strong root growth in your lawn. Lawn stays moist and hydrated for longer when watered deeply. If you are short of water only water parts of the lawn that are drying out and under stress. It is advised to water your lawn early in the morning between 6am and 10am. Evening watering can induce humidity to occur overnight resulting in fungal problems.

If water restrictions occur in your region, make sure you adhere to the watering requirements based on your restriction level – check with your local water authority for more details.

Apply a Wetting Agent

Apply a wetting agent to your lawn to improve water absorption. After long periods of dry, lawns become dehydrated and the soil struggles to absorb water. A wetting agent helps break down the soil’s surface tension and allow water to soak through.

Watering with Grey Water?

Grey Water is a very viable alternative to watering your lawn during summer or more importantly water restrictions. Grey Water consists of wastewater from your showers, baths, spas, hand basins, laundry tubs, washing machines, dishwashers, and kitchen sinks.

Grey Water DOES NOT include the water from your toilet.

FERTILIZING YOUR LAWN

Best fertiliser results occur when feeding your lawn at least three times a year:

  • early spring
  • early summer
  • mid to late autumn

If you decide to only feed your lawn once – this is best done during late spring or early summer.

Fertilising in Spring

Springtime is go-time when it comes to fertilising your lawn and the best time for lawn care.

The soil beneath your precious lawn has warmed up and your grass is starting to grow again after winter and responds well to fertiliser. Spring fertilising jumps-start your lawn for the rest of the growing season and aids its growth progress following the effects of winter, such as browning and thinning.

Spring lawn application rates

It is important that you tell your local garden centre what sort of grass you have before purchasing your spring fertiliser, so you buy the correct one.

A good piece of advice before spring fertilising is to aerate your lawn as winter often causes a lot of compaction. Aerating addresses compaction by putting small holes into the lawn therefore allowing the fertiliser to access the soil and improving air circulation –aiding your lawns growth.

Lorn turf fertilizer rates

Slow release fertiliser

Most lawns respond well to a slow release fertiliser which can be found at any local garden centre. Using a slow release fertiliser twice during spring also allows you to stretch out the application process.

The first application of your slow release fertiliser should occur during early September (when the weather warms up) and the second application 6 to 8 weeks later – during November.

Key features of slow release fertilisers are that:

  • The nutrients slowly release and continuously
  • All of the fertiliser’s nutrients are utilised following watering in
  • Use of low application rates (saves money)
  • There is only the need to apply three times during the year (twice in spring and once in autumn)

Another benefit of a slow release fertiliser is that a consistent level of growth and greening occurs across the life of the application with no spike in growth and no nutrient-run off.

It is important not to use cheap slow release fertilisers as these products tend to initially release a lot of nutrients and dwindle off quickly with nutrient delivery, resulting in an initial surge in growth and greening – however, consistent growth will not be maintained.

maitland lawn fertilizer rates

Traditional lawn fertiliser

Traditional lawn fertiliser is often the cheapest lawn food choice but not necessarily the best.

Key features of tradition lawn fertilisers are that:

  • They require high application rates
  • They only supply your lawn with short-term feed
  • They create a crystalline or powdered appearance
  • A spike in growth and greening occurs (rapid initial response which tappers off quickly)
  • They require frequent applications

Traditional fertilisers also tend to dump their nutrient load immediately after watering in which often leads to high nutrient run-off into waterways and drains.

Application rates for traditional fertilisers are every 4 to 6 weeks and rely on the lawn being able to absorb the nutrients as they move through the soil. However frequent applications of traditional fertiliser can have detrimental effects on the soil chemistry and therefore health.

Organic lawn fertilisers

A ‘true’ organic fertiliser is one that has been certified as 100% organic – so be sure to have that guaranteed when purchasing.

The simplest way to check that it is 100% organic is by looking for the Australian Organic Certified logo on the bottle or pack.

A recommended organic fertiliser is a blend of both a natural (organic) and synthetic (manufactured) fertiliser.

Therefore, the use of an organic lawn food and soil improver combines the features of both a slow release fertiliser as well as natural ingredients such as seaweed, fish, manure and bio-stimulants.

Since organic fertiliser are natural products it is hard to over-fertiliser and in fact, they make your soil and plant health strong. As organic fertilisers can be more expensive than other fertilisers it is possible to make your own by composting manure – such as from cattle or chooks.

The best time to apply your organic fertiliser in spring is either late September or early October. Another application of organic fertiliser during winter – preferably late June.

MOWING YOUR LAWN

Proper lawn mowing heights are important for all lawn types, and especially for Buffalo grasses such as  Sapphire & Shademaster.

The differences in mowing heights for Buffalo grasses can mean big differences in lawn health, thatch control and water usage. Normal weekly mowing is the rule, but some lawns need cutting more often.

Generally, when mowing your lawn don’t cut off more than one-third of the grass blade.

CARING FOR YOUR LAWN

Mowing your lawn

Lawn mowing heights for Soft Leaf Buffalo grass should be higher than for other turf varieties, typically a height of 25mm – 50mm is desirable to maintain a healthy lawn. Where as varieties such as kikuyu should be kept between 30mm-40mm as a guide. Mowing heights should be increased in shaded areas, to between 50mm – 70mm, ensuring a longer leaf blade which absorbs more sunlight and allows the lawn to stay healthy with less light.

For those concerned with mowing a Buffalo lawn too high and causing heavy thatching – don’t be! Buffalo grass is a low thatch variety this means the lawn is less spongy and looks healthier.

Other grasses, such as Kikuyu and Couch, can have a high build-up of thatch preventing new roots from penetrating as deeply into the soil making the grass less tolerant to hot and cold conditions – this is NOT the case with Buffalo grass.

Additionally, the thick thatch can increase the lawns susceptibility to fungal disease by staying too moist in cooler conditions – again, this is NOT the case with Buffalo grass. If Buffalo thatch does begin building-up, then a short cut back of the lawn in spring will usually help the problem and keep the thatch under control.

It is also important to keep your mower blades sharp to ensure you are cutting and not tearing the leaf as you mow. Tearing can leave the turf susceptible to diseases.

Mow your Buffalo grass every 7-10 days in the hot months and every 3-6 weeks in cooler months.

WEED AND PEST CONTROL IN YOUR LAWN

Killing weeds can require various types of weed sprays which may also be used differently, and with different guidelines for safety and application from their manufacturers. While there can be many different variables in their use and application, there are some universal lawn care tips which will greatly increase the effectiveness of many weed treatments.

Common Lawn Weeds

Weeds may be green, but they are plants growing where they’re not wanted within your lawn. Weeds can take any form and can vary depending on where they grow and typically produce large numbers of seeds, assisting their spread. Unfortunately, weeds are often excellent at surviving and reproducing and are commonly the first plants to colonise and dominate.

The most common lawn weeds are:

  • Wintergrass
  • Crowsfoot Grass
  • Crabgrass
  • Oxalis Weed
  • Summer Grass
  • Mullumbimby Couch
  • Nut Grass
  • Paspalum
  • Dandelion Weeds
  • White Clover
  • Bindi Weed

Lawn weeds are pesky and troublesome at the best of times so myhomeTURF has a great lawn weeds guide of the main culprits and how to control them.

Measure your lawn

Before you can safely apply, not only herbicides but also pesticides, insecticides and fertilisers to your lawn, you will need to measure the lawn area so all products are safely applied within manufacturer guidelines.

Fertilise before spraying weeds

Weed killers work much better, and with far greater success, following an application of fertiliser to the lawn. Applying a good quality fertiliser 3 to 7 days before weed treatments is recommended, and ensure the product is well-watered into the turf. An application of fertiliser at this time will also allow your lawn to grow healthier and to naturally fight off many weed invaders on its own during this same treatment period.

Span out treatment times

Often multiple treatments for the same weeds are required and there is a real risk of damaging the grass if we’re not careful. If treating the same weed type with the same product, the second treatment should occur 2 to 3 weeks after the first. This gives the weeds a good dosage in a short amount of time and allows the second dose to work on an already weakened weed. Wait at least a month, at minimum, before applying any further treatments past the second. This allows the lawn to fully recover to good health in between treatments. Without waiting between treatments, you could cause damage to your lawn.

Plan spraying around mowing

You don’t want to spray for lawn weeds one week before mowing, or one week after mowing. By spraying too soon after mowing the grass will still have fresh open wounds from being cut which will then absorb the poison and damage or kill the grass. Mowing too soon after weed spraying could remove much of the weed’s leaf material which contains most of the poison – thus the effectiveness of the weed treatment falls considerably.

Mow all lawns with a catcher for the following 2 to 3 mowings after weed spraying, and then throw the clippings into the bin. Most of these grass clippings will still be holding onto active herbicide, and by recycling them into garden beds or compost you run the risk of causing damage or death to other plants in your garden.

Common Lawn Pests

How do you know if your lawn is full of pests?

Common signs included brown spots, dead and dying grass patches, wilting or bite marks on leaf blades. Underground lawn pests often leave holes in the soil and can be detected at night. The most common lawn pests are:

  • Mole crickets
  • Army Worms
  • Cutworm
  • African Black Beetle
  • Two Spotted Mites
  • White Curl Grub
  • Sod Webworm
  • Ants
  • Couch Grass Mites
  • Grasshoppers

We have a great lawn pests guide which covers all of the above culprits and how to treat them