Ensure a lush lawn this summer by caring properly for your existing one or planting a new one.
We show you how
By Lynne Yates and Loren Shirley-Carr
A beautiful lawn provides a luxurious setting for the rest of your garden. When it looks patchy or unhealthy, it brings the whole garden down with it, no matter how good your garden beds look. Keep your lawn flourishing this summer by embarking on a spring lawn care regime, or plant a new one. Your garden will soon be the envy of your neighbours.
Lawn care regime
Remove old, dead grass to make way for new growth. Getting rid of this dead matter allows water, air and nutrients to get through to the roots. You can scarify kikuyu and cynodon lawns, which have runners, but not bunch-type lawns, such as All Seasons Evergreen and Shade-Over.
Step 1: Loosen dead grass with a steel rake.
Step 2: Cut your lawn on the lowest level of your lawnmower.
Step 3: Remove the clippings and add to your compost heap.
Aeration allows air to get to the roots, which aids in drainage, allowing water, minerals and nutrients to get to the roots. It also reduces soil compression and increases the water holding capacity of the soil.
Step 1: Make 10cm-deep holes in the lawn, about 10cm apart, using a large garden fork or metal rod.
Step 2: Leave the plugs to decompose, or add them to your compost heap.
Lawn dressing is a mixture of garden soil and a soil improver, such as compost, applied to your lawn in spring. It is used to improve the quality of your soil, level out an uneven lawn and stimulate the grass to produce new shoots. The amount of top dressing you use depends on your lawn type, but as a rule of thumb, the recommendation is to cover 100 square metres of lawn with 1 cubic metre of sterilised lawn dressing. Note that buffalo grass, LM and all cool season lawns do not tolerate lawn dressing.
Step 1: Place small heaps of the dressing around the lawn, specifically in any small depressions.
Step 2: Using the back of a rake, spread the dressing evenly over the lawn, creating a level surface.
Lawns are heavy feeders and need regular applications of fertiliser and water to keep looking their best. A good general fertiliser for all lawn types is 5:1:5 (36). These numbers indicate the amount of nitrogen (5), balanced phosphorus (1) and potassium (5) it contains. The (36) indicates the percentage of these three elements in the mix. Apply this fertiliser during the growing season at a rate of 60g per square metre at least once every three months. Alternatively, use a specialised fertiliser for established lawns, such as Wonder Vitaliser Lawn and Leaf 7:1:3 (15) + C (SR) with bio-carbon green boost, applied at a rate of 20-30g per square metre. You can repeat this every four weeks throughout the season, or alternate with LAN. Organic options include Talborne’s Vita Green 5:1:5 (16) or Neutrog’s Upsurge (7:1:6) followed by Neutrog’s Blade Runner in summer.
For a healthy lawn, mow when the grass is about one-third taller than the recommended grass height. If you allow it to grow longer between mowings, the grass will weaken.
As a rough guide, keep kikuyu at a height of 4-6cm above ground, finer grasses such as cynodon at a height of 3-4cm, and shade grasses such as Shade-Over and All Seasons Evergreen at a height of 5-7cm. This results in deeper roots that are capable of surviving dry spells.
Plant a new lawn
There are a few ways to plant a new lawn in your garden; your choice will depend on your budget and how quickly you want coverage:
• Instant lawn is the quickest and easiest (but priciest) option. You can buy this lawn in squares and lay it out where you want it, edge to edge. Water twice a day for the first week, and thereafter twice a week.
• Lawn plugs are a bit more cost-effective. These you plant out about 25cm apart. This grass should provide coverage within six weeks. Water daily for the first two weeks, and thereafter every second day.
• Lawn seed is the most cost-effective option. Sow in spring and summer, and the grass will be a lush carpet in about eight weeks. Sow the seed on prepared soil, fine seeds can be mixed with sand and sprinkled. Rake over the seeds to cover them lightly. Water twice a day until the plants are strong, and then once a day until the lawn starts to ‘knit’. Thereafter water twice a week.
Choose the right lawn
The most important things to consider are the climate, the amount of sunlight the lawn will receive, how much traffic the lawn will see and its ease of establishment. Warm season grasses such as kikuyu, LM lawn, buffalo lawn and cynodon prefer predominantly sunny spots, are more tolerant of traffic and are easy to establish and maintain; cool season grasses such as Lawnpro Green Domein, All Seasons Evergreen and Shade-Over offer a green lawn all year round in the coldest climate, and in shady areas, but they do not tolerate a lot of traffic, require more watering, take more time to establish and may need further seeding and care to ensure a dense mat of lawn all year round.