House Design

how to grow a gorgeous lawn for summer

Written by The ReReport

QUESTION: I get lawn envy every time I walk down my street. How do I select a great lawn for my yard and how do I maintain it? ANSWER: They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but with a bit of planning and effort, that doesn’t have to be the case at all. Having a beautiful green lawn is achievable, but you do need to put in some groundwork.And with spring an ideal time to be planting grass, now is the time to decide on which one to use.Horticulturalist and Victa ambassador Adam Woodhams (below) says it’s important to select an appropriate grass for your area.media_cameraHorticulturalist and Victa ambassador Adam Woodhams.“The real secret to a good lawn when you’re starting from scratch is in the groundwork before you put the turf down, and selecting the right variety, not just for your particular climate and location but for your uses as well,” Adam says. TOUGH TURFFor homeowners with children and pets, Adam suggests buying a lawn that can handle wear and tear.“If you are going to have any really vigorous activity taking place on the lawn, you need lawns that are generally described as self-repairing,” he says.“They’re very good at repatching themselves.“There are two types of lawns that are the best at self-repairing — the ones that are very vigorous growers, which obviously means more maintenance and time on the mower, and the ones that have a tendency to be horizontal rather than vertical growers.”media_cameraIt”™s important to select an appropriate grass for your area. GRASS ROOTS MOVEMENTAdam says preparation is key when it comes to turf.“Turf tends to have its roots very much in the top five centimetres of soil,” he says.“Most turf grasses aren’t deeply rooted and that’s why a lot of them respond badly to dry conditions, because their roots are sitting close to the surface and they quickly get scorched.“In clay situations I recommend people lay a quality soil down and then put turf on top of that which gives the grass something decent to grow into.”He says sandy soil can be easier to grow grass on.“It’s very easy for the lawn to get its roots down in and the underlying soil doesn’t become depressed over time,” he says.“It does tend to lose water very quickly, but if it stays dry for too long it can became water repellent.” STARTING OUTIf you’re starting out, Adam generally recommends laying down a quality turf mix soil.“There are lawn establishment fertiliser blends that are designed for spreading underneath turf and they help the root get started,” he says.“Spread those and then water it in with one of the seaweed solutions that come in hose-on packs because that will stimulate the microbial activity in the soil, which then helps to release lots of nutrients and it forms good associations with the grass and the grass establishes faster.“The biggest thing when you’re getting new turf down is to ensure you’re applying the right amount of water for the conditions. You don’t want it wet and you don’t want it to dry out so it is very much a juggling act for the first two to three weeks.”Adam says using a slow-release fertiliser with an in-built soil wetting component a couple of times a year can help grass establish really strong roots which can help it survive adverse conditions. CUTTING EDGEAdam says there’s no need to mow the lawn at all when it’s becoming established.“You don’t need to do any mowing generally for the first three to four weeks,” he says.“The giveaway is you’ll start to see definite growth in the lawn itself and generally the biggest sign is that the joints between rolls start to disappear and that means the turf is starting to knit together,” he says.“Give it a light haircut for its first few mows and let it settle in properly.” Find an Expert Best Lawn. Images of lawn from Victa. WHICH GRASS GOES WHERE?“Some grasses like to grow up and some like growing sideways,” says horticulturalist and Victa ambassador Adam Woodhams.“Soft leaf buffalo lawns are probably the most popular in Australia today and the most popular of those is Sir Walter.“There’s another soft leaf buffalo called Palmetto which is very similar in appearance to Sir Walter but a big difference is Sir Walter tends to be more of a vertical grower whereas Palmetto tends to be more of a horizontal grower.“Palmetto tends to be better at self-repairing than Sir Walter is. The way they grow can make a lot of difference in the way they self-repair and look after themselves.”Adam says both are excellent choices for homes with children and pets.“From the point of self-repairing, one of the best is still kikuyu — it’s one of the big, old classic lawns,” he says.“But the problem for home gardens traditionally is it’s been way too vigorous, it does tend to grow very quickly.“It does tend to also like a lot of sun and the simple fact is most backyards are a variable situation when it comes to sun and shade.”Adam says there are some new kikuyu that are horizontal growers and one that’s growing in prominence is zoysia.“It’s quite a fine leaf grass, some of them almost look like a couch (grass),” he says. “They are extremely soft to touch and a lot have very good shade tolerance.“A new zoysia has been released by the people who brought out Sir Walter, they’re calling it Sir Grange and it’s much finer in its texture than a buffalo.“It’s said to have extremely high drought resistance, which is what I’ve found with zoysia in the past.”Adam says Sir Grange is a low-maintenance option.“You virtually don’t do anything to it across winter and in summer it’s something you mow every four to six weeks, as opposed to every two weeks, so there’s a lot less maintenance,” he says.“Sir Grange is also said to have good wearability, so it’s likely to be a very good family lawn.“The other thing with zoysia is many of them have very good coastal tolerance so they’re good if you’re somewhere near the beach.”

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