With spring finally here, daylight hours and temperatures are starting to increase which only means one thing - growth season is on its way!
There are no set rules when it comes to lawn care in spring time as it is purely a personal thing. Some people may decide to renovate their lawn others may want to just fertilise and maintain their existing plot.
If you’re one of the many Aussies who take pride in the presentation of your lawn, take a look at our 10 top tips for renovating your lawn this spring.
Prior to lawn renovation, make sure those winter nasties have been taken care of; the last thing you want is unsightly weeds making an appearance after your renovation is complete. To help keep the weeds at bay, use a good quality post emergent that is suitable for your turf.
Dethatching is a simple and effective way to remove the dead and decaying matter that has built up in the canopy of your turf. Removal of the thatch also helps to create easier pathways for air, sunlight, water and nutrients to access the soil.
Thatch removal can be done with either a machine or simple use of a rake. Of course, a machine makes the process easier and faster but if you don’t have access to one, a rake will work just fine. If using a rake, really put some effort into it and go your hardest in multiple directions to bring all that built up matter to the surface. Some turf varieties (such as couch) allow you to go crazy and really attack the canopy. If you have a Buffalo variety, be mindful your turf does not have rhizomes meaning you shouldn’t go over the top as this could damage your above ground stolons. Once you’re happy and your canopy is free from obstructions, jump on your trusty rotary and make multiple passes to ensure all material is cleaned up.
Now you are free from thatch, it’s time to have a look at compaction. Does your water just run off when it rains? Is it a heavy traffic area? If you’re struggling with hard soil compaction and evidence of moss has appeared, now is the perfect time to aerate your soil. Coring or solid tine aeration is best performed by machine. In saying that, if you have the time and a pitchfork, go for your life! Aeration will help with the transfer of oxygen, allow easy path for nutrients to access the rootzone and aid water retention through the galleries that have been formed during the process.
Do you know what your pH level is? If not, it’s best to figure this out now so that corrective measures can be put in place. You can get a simple pH test kit from your local garden shop and/or hardware store. Knowing your pH allows you to make the right adjustments to correct your soil and get you closer to that neutral figure of around 6.5 to 7. Additives such as Lime will help increase your pH, whereas Iron Sulphate will help decrease your pH. Gypsum is also another product to look at if you suffer from a heavy clay base.
Once you have aerated your lawn, it is now full of open galleries that allow easy access to the root zone - the best place for your fertiliser to uptake nutrients. Don’t just buy any old bag of fertiliser though; ensure you check the NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) and look into whether it’s a quick or slow release. Fertilisers that offer continual feeding for three months are far more beneficial then an instant nitrogen drop. By fertilising now, you will be feeding the plant everything it needs to help recover from this renovation and return it to great health before summer kicks in.
Don’t undo everything you’ve done thus far by forgetting to prevent those nasties that tend to feed on your lawn throughout the growing season. The surface is open and access to your sub soil is at a premium after aeration, hence this is a great time to create that residual barrier through use of Acelepryn. This will allow the plant to uptake the insecticide and give you protection for up to 6 months. Acelepryn and other insecticides are not turf specific so keep that in mind. Prevention is better than cure.
With onset of the warmer climate, we can be faced with a new array of weeds that tend to thrive if not controlled. So, if you’re going to great lengths to enhance your lawn, why not look into a preemergent as well? Pre emergents are a herbicide that form a residual barrier in your soil and prevent the germination of weed seeds, giving you peace of mind while you enjoy your beautiful, healthy lawn.
Remembering that they are best applied after coring so that barrier isn’t disturbed, pre emergents can provide 4 to 6 months protection. If you’re looking at sowing your grass with seed, skip the pre emergent at this stage as they will prevent any germination from occurring. Pre emergents are not turf specific and come in granular or liquid form.
Top dressing is just as important as any other step and, in most cases, the most important as this is your chance to sort out any imperfections and/or undulations in your lawn. What to use, well that’s completely up to the individual and circumstance. Some prefer organic, some prefer sandy loam, and some go straight out sand. By now, you should have a fair understanding of your profile and what you need. The best is USGA sand that’s blended with amendments. A fine washed sand is also particularly beneficial as it won’t contain weed-forming seeds. Washed sand contains no nutrient content yet, once spread, it works its way into the galleries you have created during aeration. The advantage of sand is that it doesn’t compact and allows the water and nutrients to flow freely to the root zone. The downside of a soil based top dress is that you really don’t know what your going to get these days and it could well be full of weed seeds.
Watering is definitely not something to be overlooked. The last thing you want during the recovery stage after a renovation is for your lawn to dry out. Unfortunately, no single watering schedule fits all suburbs and lawns; watering times depends purely on your location and climate. You will find that the longer and hotter the days are, the more you need to keep an eye on your lawn and make sure it has the required water and moisture retention. If the weather becomes dry and windy, that can be just as bad as a heatwave. Make sure you maintain your watering regularly during recovery then you can possibly move to a deeper, less frequent watering schedule. Remember that you can cause as much damage to your turf through over watering as you can under watering. Moisture meters are handy, but nothing beats the old finger in the soil to feel it for yourself.
We made it! By this stage, you should have given your chariot a service and ensured the blades and/or reel are sharp. Regular mowing will increase the plants health and help it thicken into a more luscious-looking formation. For those that have used sand, a very light water before you mow will keep the sand from ending up in your catcher and/or going through your reel.