lawn treatment

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5 steps to creating the perfect new lawn

A new lawn can add a great deal of kerb appeal to a new home landscaped garden, as well as providing a recreation area for kids and dogs.

It is often a dream of home owners to have a beautiful patch of bright green lawn in their backyard. There is a lot that can be learned from professional landscapers and professional turf managers that can help make this dream a reality.

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In some cases you can apply professional landscaping techniques to your backyard lawn, but there are important differences.

New Lawn in Public Spaces.

In commercial landscaping, lawns in public spaces are often subject to heavy pedestrian traffic. For this reason there is a lot of effort put in to make the lawn area free draining. Usually public spaces like sporting grounds will have the benefit of full sun, whereas you backyard might not. Also resources like plentiful supplies of recycled water and a large maintenance budget might not apply to your backyard lawn. There are still some techniques the home gardener can apply which will result in a great looking lawn.

Planning a New Lawn

 The first step with any garden project is the planning. Sketch your garden on a piece of paper include any large trees and shrubs. Plan out where the drainage and irrigation will be installed as this will be the first step in the construction of your garden lawn. Check the area after rain to ensure the water drains away freely.

Plan the level you want the finished lawn to be and any lawn edging to be used. Decide the direction where you want the surface water to drain towards. New lawns will require regular watering, so if possible avoid planting in summer. It is also important to plan the irrigation system at this early stage.

Take note of any areas of the lawn that have only a few hours of sunlight. These areas may require a shade tolerant grass or may be unsuitable for lawn. If you have high traffic areas which will result in wear patches in the lawn, use some pavers. Permeable concrete pavers are good for this application.

Should you consider the alternatives to lawn?

If your yard is steep or very shady, consider using a non mowing solution instead. This might mean using mulch, pebbles or gravel.

pebble garden

Pebble are a great eco friendly alternative to lawn for shady areas.

Another solution is to use low growing ground covers or succulents.

Two native Australian sustainable alternatives to lawn grasses are Dichondra repens and the Native Violet, Viola hederacea.

Some exotic herbs can also be used such as mint, thyme or chamomile. If the area is difficult to access with a mower, or if it is too steep for even the Honda self propelled mower, then the alternatives should be considered.

Dichondra repens

Dichondra repens is a great low maintenance alternative to lawn grass.

 

Viola hederacea

Viola hederacea has small mauve and white flowers. Like viola Banksii it is native violet that creates a dense ground cover with flowers for most of the year.

Topsoil for your new lawn

Sporting grounds will normally have a thick layer of friable topsoil with a thick drainage layer underneath.

The grounds are usually quite flat so sub soil drainage is very important. For your backyard or frontward lawn, the ground can be sloped a bit more to aid with drainage. Depending on how well you can cultivate your subsoil, you might be able to get away with as little as 100mm of friable topsoil.

Cultivating the subsoil

Depending on the usage and the makeup of the layers below, you could probably get away with as little as 100 to 150mm of topsoil for your garden lawn. For example green couch, Cynodon dactylon, the roots will penetrate the ground up to 1.5 metres deep with much of the root mass at around 600mm deep. For this reason the layer below the top soil needs to be suitable for root growth if you want your lawn to be drought tolerant. This can be achieved by cultivating organic matter into the subsoil and, in some cases, adding gypsum.

Organic Matter for the subsoil

It doesn’t matter whether your soil is acid or alkaline or if it is a sandy soil or a clay soil, organic matter will help. If you are digging in organic matter for a lawn, make sure it is really well spread. We have done this in the past with a rotary hoe. If your organic matter is in pockets in your soil, it will rot down over time and leave dips in your lawn. Try to keep the extra organic to less than 20% for this reason. Some sources of organic matter would be mixed animal manures, cane mulch, a manure crop or stable manure. You can even use potting mixes. Ideally the organic materials will be well composted before applying. Applying organic matter will help to reduce water usage and feed your lawn grasses. You will not see much use of organic matter on sporting fields as the priority is to create a safe even surface.

 

 

 

Soil Profile showing showing the topsoil layer.

Soil Profile showing showing the topsoil layer.

Levelling the topsoil

If the lawn is not reasonably flat, mowing will create bald patches on your lawn. Once a friable sandy loam topsoil has been laid, it can be levelled out using a pine retaining wall sleeper with a rope attached with screws.

Aim to level the topsoil around 12 millimetres below the edging to allow for the height of the grass. The actual allowance will depend upon the variety of grass and whether it you are using a roll out grass or growing lawn from seed.

 

Sowing the new lawn

Lawn-grass from seed.

 Following the aeration, lawn seeds can be spread over the parts of the lawn requiring repair. Look for grass seeds species suitable for your location. In South east Queensland like Green couch or Bermuda grass Cynodon dactylon or Queensland blue couch Digitaria didactyla. These varieties will take about a month to grow.

In Melbourne look for a selection of grass seeds that includes couch grass. Fast growing Rye grasses can be used if you are planting in shady areas in the cooler months, but generally cool season grasses will not be a long term drought tolerant sustainable solution.

Top dress the lawn with a sandy loam. For smaller areas, a fine potting mix makes a good lawn top dress. The lawn can then be fertilised with chook pellets like Neutrog Rooster Booster  or with Neutrog Seamungus soil and plant conditioner. Is necessary, top dress with some gypsum. Water with a fine mist using a soil wetter or a soil conditioner like Neutrog GOGO Juice.

Roll out Lawn

For instant effect, a roll out lawn can be used. This should be rolled out on even topsoil as soon as it is delivered. Start with laying the lawn along any straight lawn edges you might have in your garden design. Take care not to stretch the lawn rolls and push each roll firmly together without gaps.

instant lawn

Instant lawn

Top dress after rolling with a sandy loam or sand. A lawn roller will help to even the surface and keep the lawn roots in good contact with the soil. Another advantage of the roll out lawn is that you can use drought resistant hybrid varieties that cannot be grown from seed.

a lawn roller

A lawn roller will help flatten the lawn and keep the seeds in good contact with the soil.

 

Hydroseed

For large commercial landscaping projects, or large residential landscaping, hydroseeding is often used. Hydroseeding is a method wher a mixture of water, fertilizer and grass seeds are sprayed over the area. Some local councils have seen problems with grass taking off with this method, so it is probably best to do this in Autumn.

Lawn Maintenance

Your new or repaired lawn will need watering every day for a month. To save water use a soil wetter to minimise run off. Water in the evening to reduce losses due to evaporation. A liquid fertiliser high in nitrogen and iron will keep your lawn looking green.

5 steps to creating the perfect new lawn

  1. Plan the area and note the drainage, irrigation and shade.
  2. Cultivate the subsoil with organic matter. If it is reactive clay soil, use gypsum.
  3. Use at least 100mm of friable topsoil for the lawn. Flatten with a wooden sleeper or large rake.
  4. Use grass varieties suitable for your area and the amount of shade.
  5. Maintain the lawn with frequent top dressing, wetting agents and liquid fertilisers.

 

Related Landscaping Ideas from Red’s Landscaping and Civil

5 Steps for a Great Melbourne Lawn

 

New Home Construction Landscaping

 

11 Best landscapers of all time.

 

© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil quality commercial landscaping Melbourne

Alternatives to lawn

http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s1148898.htm

 

 

http://www.edinburghgardenschool.com/2014/10/flocculation-dispersion-soils/

 

 

http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s1676965.htm

 

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/earth-sciences/impact/geology/london/ucl/materials/clay

 

 

 

 

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5 Steps for a Great Melbourne Lawn

Lawn renovation is best done in early Autumn in Melbourne gardens. Take the  time to assess your lawn and plan for some renovation and repair work. Start by walking over your lawn and checking for any bald patches, or high spots or dips.

Lawn Irrigation Systems

Turn on your irrigation system and check if all parts of the lawn are getting adequate water. If you cannot push the tines of a fork into the bald patches, then the soil might be compressed or the irrigation is not reaching that spot. Also check for weeds and other pests and diseases whilst you are there.

What is the best treatment for grass?

Step 1 – Lawn Weed removal

The first step in a successful lawn renovation is to remove the weeds. If the weather is sunny, you could use a selective spray, but do not be afraid of digging the weeds out by hand.

lawn care melbourne Removing weeds

Lawn care Melbourne. Broadleaf weeds can be removed by hand or with a selective spray.

Step 2 – Aeration of the Lawn

To make this job easier, give the grass a really good soaking or do it just after a good rain. Using a granulated or spray on soil wetter will help too. The slugs of soil should come up the aerator tines and drop out onto your lawn.

Mechanical Lawn Aerator for large or commercial lawns

Mechanical Lawn Aerator for large or commercial lawns. Aeration is an essential part of lawn repair.

 

If you have a smaller area of lawn, then Bunnings have a hand held aerator that is reasonably priced. You can get a  cyclone aerator at around $55 – $60. This is money well spent.

Hand Held Aerator. Great for renovation work.

Hand Held Aerator. Great for renovation work.

The holes made by the aerator, will allow oxygen, water and nutrients to quickly get to the roots. This is especially important if you have some high traffic areas that may have had some compression and wear.

 

Lawn topsoil profile shows the effect of aeration.

Lawn topsoil profile shows the effectiveness of aeration in getting oxygen and nutrients to the lawn roots.

Step 3 – Over sow grass seeds.

If you have hybrid roll out grass then you will not find grass seeds of the exact same type of grass. Your local plant nursery will be able to suggest something that looks similar. Sowing Lawn seeds in early Autumn, means that the new lawn grasses have all winter and spring to get established before the next hot summer.

Oversow lawn

Oversow the lawn with new lawn-seed. Ensure seeds go into the aeration holes.

 

Step 4 – Top dress the lawn.

Top dress  with either a high quality sandy loam with a little organic matter, or a course sand. The course sand works well in high traffic areas, but a topsoil high in organic matter is better at holding  moisture. For real problem areas, try top dressing with a cheap fine textured potting mix. When topdressing, take care to fill any low points and bring the level up evenly to any paths or edges. Protruding pavers can make a real mess of your mower blades if the lawn is lower than your pavers. Depending on the type of topsoil you have you may want to top dress with some gypsum to break up the clay.  The gypsum will penetrate deep into the lawn through the aeration holes.

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Topdressing with cheap potting mix

For small bald patches in your lawn, a cheap fine potting mix can be a good alternative to sandy loam. The whole nature strip below has been repaired this way, and the rapid growth in the grass is amazing.  The potting mix helps to keep the grass seeds moist for germination and can give some protection from birds.

top dressing with a cheap fine textured potting mix

Top dressing with a cheap fine textured potting mix. This is a great solution for small problem areas or bald patches in your lawn.

 

Step 5 – Apply Soil Wetter and Liquid Fertiliser to your lawn.

Give your grass a liquid fertiliser like Neutrog Seamungus as well as some more soil wetter. The liquid fertiliser will encourage plant and root growth. The soil wetter is required as often the top dress soils are hydrophobic, resulting in the water just running off the soil. If you repeat this last step for 3 or 4 weeks the results will be amazing.

hydrophobic-hydrophilic

Hydrophobic versus hydrophilic. A surfactant will help if your lawn topsoil has become hydrophobic and is repelling water. In hydrophobic soils water will tend to run off and not find its way to the lawn roots. Aerating and some garden lime will help as well.

 

The Lawn Topsoil Conundrum.

For hard wearing lawn the topsoil needs to be a sandy loam. This type of soil should also be used when topdressing the high traffic areas of your lawn. This will also mean that the area will require regular watering or an irrigation system to stay green as the soil moisture content will be lower in these areas. One solution to this problem is to use a product like Neutrog Seamungus after aerating to help the soil retain moisture. We have had some success using this product on some of our commercial landscaping lawns.

Soil moisture

The ability of your soil to provide moisture will depend on the soil structure and the amount of organic matter.

Restoring Commercial Landscaping Lawns

When restoring commercial landscaping grassed areas many of the same principles apply as they would to a very large residential area.

The use of mechanical spreaders and mechanical aerators is required to do economical  restoration to a large area. Many lawns in public spaces need to be very hard wearing, so sandy loam topsoils and irrigation systems using harvested rainwater are often used. Often there is a trade-off between green attractive grass and sustainability with areas browning off a little over summer. Couch grass will often brown in the colder months, but this is not a major concern either.

commercial landscaping lawn

Commercial landscaping grass just starting to green up after the application of soil wetters and Neutrog Seamungus.

 

Many commercial landscapes will use a hard wearing kikuyu in either an instant roll out or using hydroseeding or hydromulching. 

Related Landscaping Ideas from Red’s Landscaping

Melbourne Landscaping Topsoil Types

 

Commercial Landscaping of Public Spaces.

 

5 tips for Drought Tolerant Landscaping in Melbourne

 

Landscaping Melbourne with Climbing Plants

 

Screening Plants for Garden Privacy

 

New Home Construction Landscaping

 

5 Melbourne Garden Weeds and how to prevent them.

3 Best Types of Concrete Retaining Wall

 

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