There’s nothing quite like a lush green lawn to enhance the look of your garden. Lawns are the pride and joy of many New Zealand gardeners, so if your lawn is not as it should be follow these steps to have the best looking lawn on the block.
If you want to make your tired lawn look brand new follow the steps below, however, if your lawns looks pretty good, but you just want to give it a boost follow the spraying, fertilisers, mowing and watering tips below.
Spray the existing lawn with a selective weed killer, this will kill broadleaf weeds but not the grass. There are a lot of weeds and lot of product to choose from. It is always best to bring in a sample to ensure you get the correct spray. To spray your lawn but not to kill the grass some top two products are Yates Turfix or Kiwi Care Turf Clean; both will kill broad leaf weeds, clover, daisies, and prickle weed (Onehunga), without harming your lawn. Yates Woody Weedkiller is also very good, but you will not be able to re-sow grass in that spot for about 6 months. Diseases can also occur on lawns, but once again a sample always goes a long way to fixing any problems once it has been identified.
If you have weeds that look like grass you will need to use a non-selective weed killer like Kiwicare ‘Weed Weapon’ or ‘RoundUp’. Because this spray will kill everything, including lawn grass, you will need to spot spray it onto the grass weeds.
The sprays then need to dry for at least one day before either rain falls or watering is done, after that you can resume your normal watering practices with your lawn.
When the weeds are dead mow the lawn to 2-3cm (making sure you catch and remove your lawn clipping). The next step is often omitted, but in my opinion is one of the most important. You need to hire a de-thatcher. This is an amazing mower-like machine that puts teeth into the ground and removes the layer of organic matter on the soil surface and all the old, dead blades of grass. This is important because the soil must be exposed for new seed to grow.
Use top soil to fill up any major dips or holes where puddles tend to form, and heel in.
Spread seed over the entire lawn at 30g per square metre. Follow with a light raking to work the seed into the soil.
Two top brands of lawn fertiliser are Oderings Lawn Replenish and Scotts Lawn Builder. Both will control their release of fertiliser for a 3-month period and although usually in smaller bags will go further distance for a longer period than cheaper brands. You will see the results in 7-10 days and do not have to water the product in immediately. Two of the cheaper brands are Tui Lawn Fertiliser and Oderings Lawn Fertiliser. You need to be more careful to get an even coverage with these two, as burning can occur if over applied, and they should be watered in immediately. However both are still good middle of the range products and you will definitely see your lawn getting a nice lush green within a couple of weeks. Oderings have a fertiliser spreader at each branch for hire for your convenience.
More mowing equals vigorous growth and high quality lawns. A commonly asked question is “Is it ok to leave the lawn clippings on the lawn?” If you do they will recycle over time or you can use Thatch Buster to break them down more quickly, either way will produce food and moisture for the lawn. It must also be said that poor air circulation and disease are another result.
Depends on the season and your weather. Like your garden you can tell when your lawn is becoming stressed and when it needs water so don’t ignore it, water it. Now you can take your shoes off and enjoy a luxuriously green, weed free lawn.
Lawns - To do it yourself or have someone do it for you?
With water restrictions around much of the country in recent times a lot of lawns are looking the worse for wear. Currently ours is so bad we are discussing whether we are going to refresh our existing lawn, kill the existing lawn and re-sow it with seed, or ‘bite the bullet’ and replace it with ‘Ready Lawn’ or spray on grass.
How much time and money you have will shape your options.
As a fair estimate after some internet browsing, and a few emails here is list of likely prices for you (as of autumn 2013)
Costs from $6-10 per square metre to lay it yourself (plus the time to kill of any existing lawn, and prepare for the’ Ready Lawn’ with a new layer of levelled top soil). To have all the work done for you where a company does the preparation, levels the lawn, provides a small follow-up after care service and lays the lawn for you, prices start from $19 per square metre.
Spray On Lawn:
Costs $280 for a 100 square metre lawn, but this did not include the preparation work that was needed so an average of $2.80 per metre square.
Grass Seed Costs:
$0.48 for a budget seed up to $0.94c for a premium brand per square metre of lawn.
Note that you will need to follow preparation steps listed below if you are going to do your own lawn preparation.
Do it yourself
Preparation: The best advice is to do it right the first time. Growing a new lawn requires careful preparation and hours of dedicated work. Your time and effort will reward you with a healthy lawn that will be a delight to the eye for many years to come.
Spray: You will need to start by using a spray to kill off the whole existing lawn such as ‘RoundUp’ or ‘Weedout for General Weed Control’ or Kiwicare ‘Weed Weapon’. Then wait two to three weeks for the lawn to completely die off, the warmer the weather the quicker this will happen. If using the ‘Weed Weapon you will only need to wait 7 days as it is a fast acting product.
Soil: As the area starts to die you will need to cultivate the soil to eight centimetres or scrape away the dead grass. The best option is to incorporate the dead grass with a rotary hoe or garden fork, adding fresh screened topsoil as you go. This limits the amount of new top soil needed to level the lawn surface. If you decide to scrape off the dead grass, a shovel is going to be your new best friend.
Level: This is where the real work begins and this needs to be done properly. Level out the cultivated soil with a rake. Find any soft spots by “heeling in” (taking small steps on your heel), or use a roller to go over the top and compress soil. When you are satisfied that the area is level, compacted, and all holes are filled, rake the soil surface so the grass seed can set root.
Sow: Select a seed according to the situation, if you are unsure your Oderings staff will be able to advise you. Most grass seed is coated, providing fertiliser in the immediate vicinity of the young seed. This enables it to take up nutrients as soon as the seed has germinated. Coated seed also protects from fungal disease and bird theft during establishment. Sow seed at the rate of 30grams/sq. metre. Add ‘Scotts New Lawns & Repair Fertiliser’ when planting.
Select: There are five main types of grass seed to choose from: two from Oderings and three from Tui Superstrike. The latter comes in three choices – you pay a higher price for this product, but it is worth it. It takes seven days to germinate instead of the normal 21 so you get a faster established lawn.
Do not mow a new lawn until it is 7 to 10cms tall, then remove the top one-third of the grass, gradually lowering the blades on your mower over the next few months until the grass is 2.5cm (this is the optimum height for your lawn). Keep the seed moist, but not wet, until it has germinated, and then water for half an hour every day until established. Deep watering is important as shallow watering produces shallow roots and invites weeds to invade the area.
Weeds and moss thrive in lawns that are poorly maintained, try some of the following suggestions to reduce this problem.
If you still have a problem with weeds, take a sample to your local garden centre for the correct advice on what to spray with. Do not spray weeds in new lawns for the first two months; thereafter use a weaker dilution of Yates ‘Turfix’ or KiwiCare ‘Turfclean’. After the lawn is six months old you can use full strength solutions.
With new lawns less than six months old fertilise using Scotts ‘New Lawns & Repair’, as this will not burn the seed or young grass. Premium brands such as Scotts ‘Lawn Builder’ or Oderings ‘Lawn Replenish’ can be used after the six months has passed. These fertilisers release slowly over three months and do not require watering in. Other cheaper brands of fertiliser can also be used after the lawn is six months old; they do not have a controlled released of fertiliser and can burn your lawn, therefore, it is always advisable to water your lawn after applying these fertilisers. Fertilising should be done in spring, summer, and autumn. Always follow the recommended application rate to ensure you don’t burn your lawn.
Note: Whether you pick a ready lawn, a spray on lawn, start from scratch, or renew your existing lawn, if you don’t keep up the maintenance you will end up right back where you started within a year.