Spring spruce-up: Here's how to get a great lawn
Spring is here, and that means it's time to give your lawn a bit of a spruce-up and re-seed any patchy spots.
In the warmer parts of the North Island lawn seed can be sown all year round, although germination will be slower during winter months. For the rest of the country, spring (August to November) and autumn (March to May) are ideal sowing seasons.
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*A lawn to love: Trott's Garden in Ashburton
FIND THE RIGHT MIX
How your lawn is to be used will determine the best type of lawn seed mix for you. Is your lawn primarily a play-space for the kids, or is it intended as a manicured backdrop to your fabulous garden? Tough or hard-wearing grasses are better for areas that get lots of wear, while more delicate varieties can be used for a show lawn.
A mix of a coarse leaf perennial rye and fescue grass is a good option for a lawn that will have to endure hard use and a certain amount of benign neglect. Think of this as ideal for a full-on family who spend more time playing footy (or fetch) on the lawn than mowing or watering it.
A mix of perennial rye grass, fescue and browntop is recommended for a good quality, hard wearing lawn. This is the go-to mix for most situations.
A mix of fine turf grasses including fine leaf rye, fescue and browntop is recommended for a putting-green sort of lawn that you're happy to spend a bit of time maintaining. This is the lawn for the gardening enthusiast.
To keep your lawn healthy, mow it regularly. Set the blade high rather than low to encourage new growth. If the blade height is set too low, grass will be weakened, which enables weeds to become established. But, remember if the blade is set too high and you don't mow regularly, coarse grass can become dominant. In periods of growth, the average lawn should be cut to a height of 2.5cm. In slow growth periods cut to 3cm. And please, stop mowing the lawn in the rain. Grass droops in the rain. This means blades of grass get pushed over, not cut, when you try to mow. Furthermore, wet grass can stick to the mower's undercarriage. Eventually it will get thick enough to impede the mower blades and slow their rotation, further diminishing the mower's cutting ability.
To maintain your lawn over dry periods it is essential to water it. A good soaking once a week in summer will be sufficient. Light sandy soils may require watering every two days. A sprinkler system or soaker hose is the most efficient way to water lawn, and the best time to water grass is in the early morning. Wind and heat are usually minimal at this time, and the majority of the water will reach the lawn. Plus, the grass leaves and stems will dry by midday, lessening the chance of disease.
Feeding a lawn at regular intervals greatly reduces the chance of weeds appearing. Use a specially blended lawn fertiliser high in nitrogen every 8-12 weeks to keep your lawn growing strong. Apply a dry fertiliser to a moist lawn – after rain is ideal. Water lawns after applying fertiliser to prevent burning.
Despite every effort, weeds grow in even the most manicured lawns. The best way to eradicate broad-leaf weeds is to use a selective spray that will not kill grass. Moss can be controlled by applying lime or sulphate of iron or by spraying with an appropriate moss killer.