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Lawn can be a great asset to your home, giving you an area outside for entertaining, and a play area for kids and animals. The trick to being ‘green’ with having a lawn is to (a) not have too much – think about what you will use. If you’re not going to use it, then there will probably be a better option. And (b) selecting the correct grass for the job.
Lawns can provide wonderful areas around the house for entertaining, and play areas for children and pets. Studies have been shown that lawn is a cooling surface around the home, reducing the need for air conditioner use. And - unlike artificial turf - real grass will last a lifetime if properly cared for.
Perth’s own “Professor Lawn” – horticulturalist Nick Bell has kindly allowed us to share his information on grasses available in Perth.
A single strain selected couch cultivar with a blue green colour, a fine, dense, soft leaf texture with high colour retention under low winter temperatures and partial shade. It has deep-rooted, dense network of rhizomes and vigorous surface stolons that enable rapid recovery from damage or drought. Wintergreen has a smooth soft hardwearing surface and has stood the test of time in all states of Australia.
Santa Ana Hybrid Couch
Has an exceptionally fine leaf and maintains good colour during winter. It is the most salt tolerant of the couch varieties and grows well in coastal areas. Being both rhizomatous and stoloniferous, Santa Ana is very hardy. This lawn is best cut low with a sharp correctly set cylinder mower to keep its surface smooth and control the development of thatch.
This lawn has a massive root system and a slow growth habit that have made it a success everywhere that it grows. It has a dark green colour, is soft and luxurious and grows well in most soil types from sand to clay. When properly managed Empire Zoysia is resistant to insects and turf diseases.
Has a finer leaf and softer texture than Empire Zoysia. Produces an unsurpassable surface when mowed with a sharp, correctly set reel mower at a height of 12 to 20mm every ten days from October to the end of March.
Kikuyu is the most widely grown lawn for home lawns and urban turf in Australia. Sometimes criticised because it invades garden beds and cracks in pavements, it has a soft surface that mows beautifully and has unparalleled recuperative ability.
Velvetene is a superior cultivar of seashore paspalum developed in Perth. It is highly drought tolerant, grows well when restricted to 2 day watering per week, and is the best choice when water quality is limited. Providing drainage is adequate, Velvetene can be watered with seawater so it is an excellent choice for coastal locations.
Soft Leaf Buffalo
Competition has driven constant improvements in the quality of buffalo lawn. The lawn that is called Buffalo in Australia is generally known as St Augustine grass. It acquired its Australian identity when it arrived here soon after settlement in the sailing ship HMS Buffalo. Buffalo lawns often adorned with a Hills Hoist are an Australian icon. The soft leaf cultivars that are now available are far superior to the original variety. However unless root zones are improved prior to establishment, or organic matter is incorporated into existing Buffalo lawns they will suffer when watering is restricted to 2 days a week without supplementary hand watering.
Queensland Blue has a distinctive blue/green colour that sets it apart from all other warm season lawns. Like Buffalo, Queensland Blue does not have underground rhizomes so it is important to improve the soil and do some hand watering to supplement irrigation during the summer months. This lawn is for the home lawn aficionado, but with careful management will reward home lawn greenkeepers with a beautiful lawn.
General Info - lawn types
Warm season turf that have underground runners called rhizomes that are capable of rapid recovery include several varieties of couch, hybrid couch, Kikuyu, Zoysia and Paspalum vaginatum. These lawns are recommended where watering is restricted to 2 days a week or less.
Warm season lawns which spread by above ground runners called stolons include all cultivars of Soft Leaf Buffalo and Blue Couch. Where soil organic matter has been increased with the incorporation of humate or compost, these lawns can be managed during summer with two waterings a week.
Otherwise, supplementary hand watering is necessary. Australian Turf Farmers are highly efficient and in most cases they have display areas of different lawns for inspection, and experienced staff is available to answer questions and make recommendations.
Improve the existing free draining sand by incorporating moisture retaining premium compost (Or our Lawn Concentrate which is especially mixed and designed for this purpose) at the rate of 5 – 10L per square metre into the upper 50mm.
Where lawns through either age or inadequate maintenance are no longer acceptable they should be replaced with the most suitable warm-season lawn for specific situations. The old lawn needs to be removed (Nick recommends spraying with glyphosate herbicide at the recommended rate and leaving for 2 weeks before removing dead turf to a depth of 4omm below the desired level of the new lawn, then incorporate 5 – 10L per square metre of premium compost into the upper 50mm
Before laying new turf apply an organic based garden (not lawn) fertiliser at the rate of 100gm per square metre and incorporate the fertiliser into the root zone by raking and cross raking, then roll with a water filled roller or plate compactor (these can be hired) to provide a firm and even surface
Providing that mature compost, Lawn concentrate and other proven products are incorporated into the root zone of warm-season lawns, and that they are properly fertilised, adequately watered and judiciously mowed they will maintain strong healthy growth under current water restrictions.
Mow the lawn at a height of 10 -20mm and remove all clipping and debris. Aerate the soil and relieve compaction where necessary with a mechanically driven hollow tine machine. The material brought to the surface needs to be mixed with 1 – 3L of compost or similar product per square metre with slow release organic based fertiliser that contains nutrients including trace elements, plus humates, zeolite, mineral s and rock dusts. This combination of recycled sand, premium compost and fertiliser is rubbed back into the interface of the lawn and soil with the back of a rake or screed where it will dilute thatch, stimulate microbial activity, increase the organic content of the root zone, and smooth and level the surface of the lawn.
Apply fertilisers in spring and autumn at the rate of 50gms per square metre. Spread the fertiliser on dry turf and water in in. Maintain strong healthy turf without excessive growth at four week intervals from October to March by spraying with liquid fertiliser that contains seaweed, fish, organic compounds and amino acids. Several brands of these low analysis fertilisers are readily available and can easily be applied according to label direction with siphon mixers attached to hoses, or ready to use spray containers.
At The Green LIfe Soil Co. we make our own special Lawn Top Dress Mix, and Lawn concentrate. In addition we stock compost, and a range of minerals (Zeolite, Bentonite, Spongolite, Rock Dust - etc), for soil improvement. Visit our store, or online shop for a range of garden supplies and organic garden products.