Lawn Care Guide: How do you keep your lawn looking good?
By David Gordon – Baywide Dingos Napier, Hawkes Bay New Zealand
We all know of the best lawn in the street. It’s usually a retired couple who have nothing better to do all day than pick out weeds with a butter knife and manicure their lawn to perfection. While that is great and their dedication is admirable, using these basic guidelines you too can have almost the same quality lawn but without the need to spend hours a week maintaining it.
The most common themes we see around the new sub divisions after the lawns have been down a year or so will be outlined in this guide. It only takes a bit of planning and about an1hour a month to keep your lawn looking as good as it was 8weeks after planting it.
The number one problem we see is lack of water or the water not soaking in. The key to a good lawn is sufficient water. Depending on the season, you need to be soaking your lawn at least twice a week. It will require more in summer and less in winter. It is best to water 1st thing in the morning so as to not promote disease. Especially for fine lawn varieties such as brown top in which the watering timing is crucial. It certainly is a lot easier with automatic irrigation or even manually switched irrigation, where you don’t have to drag a hose and sprinkler out and constantly move it about. The advantages of automatic irrigation outweigh the initial cost if you want a perfect lawn. They usually have a seasonal adjustment %, rain sensor and when you go away in the summer you know that your lawn will be perfectly watered. Contact us for advice on installing a system or for a free quote.
If the soil is clay based you may have a problem where the water is running off and now actually soaking in. You will need to apply a liquid soil conditioner to help break down the clay layer or get your lawn cored/punched to help with drainage. Again, automatic irrigation helps because it is a gentle misting rather than a concentrated flooding.
Lack of mowing or mowing the lawn too short is problem numero two. Mowing promotes healthy growth. By mowing the lawn routinely and as regularly as possible encourages a healthier lawn. For a show lawn you need a roller mower to give the precise stripped effect. A normal Rotor-cut mower will do fine for most other lawns and will give that normal lush effect. Ideally, if you are serious about a perfect lawn mowing twice a week is essential in the high growth seasons. You should stop watering the lawn for a few days to give the soil time to dry so the mower doesn’t sink in or clog up. It is important to only cut about 1/3 of the growth off at any one time, reducing the height gradually so as not to stunt any growth or shock the lawn too much. Maintain the height of 40mm for the 1st dozen cuts and then mow to the height you prefer. Be careful not to ‘scalp’ your lawn by mowing it too low. Some varieties of grass will handle a short cut but it is easier and more forgiving if you mow higher. It also helps to hide any undulations and holes more effectively. Mowing higher also naturally eliminates weeds such as ‘onehunga’ or the little prickles that get in your feet when you walk over it.
Problem number three: most lawns are under fertilized. The tell-tale signs are a yellow tinge to the colour or the most common, small circles of lush green grass on an otherwise baron lawn. These circles are most likely from dogs marking in which the urea from their urine fertilizes the lawn. This is a sure sign that your lawn needs a feed.
There are so many different fertilizer products out there – how do you choose?
Use a Premium organic lawn fertilizer with slow release nitrogen to reduce the risk of burning the lawn. The exact NPK rating required will depend on your soil type. As a rule of thumb, buying in bulk is a lot cheaper than your local Mitre 10, but we do offer a DIY mix that has a blend of slow release & boost which will last a while. Ideally you should look to fertilize your lawn at least 3 times a year, early spring, early summer and early autumn. This will help your lawn be healthy and strong throughout the tougher seasons.
The final problem we most commonly see if the weed factor. Clover especially has flowers which need to be mowed short in order to make them go away which in turn reduces the quality of the lawn further as discussed previously. The first defense against weeds is to keep the lawn healthy using the above guidelines. It can be tempting to mow your lawn very low to eliminate those clover flowers and other common weeds that pop up. But by doing this you are encouraging other weeds to take over the lawn very quickly – e.g. Prickles! They can dominate lawn grasses and eventually reduce the quality of the lawn if they are not kept under control. General products available at Mitre 10 like Turfix are good for most common broadleaf weeds and clover and you don’t need a Gro-cert to buy or apply. It gets tricky with other stubborn weeds like couch, paspalum and summer grasses which need to be sprayed in crucial time windows to control them. Even clover can be hard to eliminate without the use of a hormonal herbicide such as Tordon. These products are only available to certified sprayers, are expensive to buy and will kill your roses if you don’t know what you are doing. We offer a selective herbicide and fertilize package if you prefer to leave it to the experts.
If you would like us to maintain your lawn or have any questions, feel free to give us a call on 0800 234 442 or email here.