We are already half way through winter and spring is quickly approaching, and thoughts turn to lawns. No matter if you’ve just built the house of your dreams, or you want to redesign your garden space, a lush green lawn will complete your home’s overall look.
When it comes to growing a lawn, there are two options – you can opt for the quick fix of turf or take your time and grow it from seeds. Here are the facts about both:
Grass seed is an option that offers more control and less expense, often recommended for large areas. However, it can also be the most work intensive and has a high risk of being eaten by birds, or being blown away by the wind.
To successfully grow grass seed, first you need to determine the type of grass that grows best in your climate, it is generally a choice between cool-season or warm-season grass. Once you have established the best grass for your climate you need to determine the best time to sow the seeds. For cool-season grasses it is ideal to plant them in late summer to early autumn, when the ground is still warm enough for them to germinate and they have the winter months ahead to allow them to become established. Spring is the best time to sow warm season grasses, giving them a few months to get established before the hot weather sets in.
Before sowing the seeds make sure that the ground is level, well watered and don’t forget to use a starter fertiliser which will give the seeds a nutrient boost. After sowing the seeds rake them through the soil to ensure even coverage, next it is best to net the area immediately to protect the seeds from being eaten by birds.
Grass seeds require a regular water until the lawn becomes established; however you need to be careful not to over water and cause the seeds to rot – it’s best to let the soil dry out about half to two-thirds – then water again. To avoid washing away the seeds and creating puddles ensure that you apply the water gently, a gentle spray is best. And lastly when you are watering the seeds look for any sparse patches that need more seeds and take the time to pull out any weeds.
Grass seeds are much cheaper than turf and are ideal if you have a big area that you need covered. Expect a lush green lawn in around 6-8 weeks.
Turf is great if you need a lush green lawn immediately or only have a small space to cover; courtyard gardens are a great example of where to apply turf .
As long as the weather isn’t too cold, turf can be laid at any time of the year. Turf comes in squares, however can be cut to fit the size and shape of your yard. Initially, it can be work intensive, and for the best results, turf should be laid within 24 hours of receiving it to ensure the proper moisture levels are maintained.
When laying your turf, you will want to make sure that the ground has good drainage and is properly prepared. A good ground will help ensure a lush lawn, so take the time to level, weed and water the soil before you get started.
To get started cultivate the soil with a spade to a depth of about 15-20 cm and consider mixing sand into the soil if you need to build the soil up. Then smooth out the soil with a rake and before you lay your turf, prepare your soil with a fertiliser to help the grass grow and prevent weeds.
If you will be laying your own turf, work from the outside in, with the paths and borders being done first. Each piece of turf has ends that you should press together firmly, this will prevent gapping. A heavy lawn roller can help settle the turf into the soil and push out any air pockets, giving your lawn a smooth and even finish.
Once you have your lawn in place, it’s vital to keep it watered every day until it becomes properly established. When your lawn is established you should ensure that it gets about 25mm of water weekly, and don’t allow it to dry out. Organic fertilisers during the winter can help to prevent weeds and keep your grass healthy.
Don’t mow your lawn until you know that it has taken a firm hold and cannot be lifted from the ground. Give it a tug to determine if it has established. Mow on the highest setting for the very first mow, and lower it a little each time you mow after.
At the end of the day whether you choose turf or grass seeds, if maintained properly, both will provide you a lush green cover of grass. It really just comes down to a matter of your personal preference and budget.