Now that we’re getting into the season for soups, blankets and chestnuts roasting on the open fire, it’s time to consider what the springtime will bring for your garden. Whilst it is typically associated with the natural aspect of rebirth and purification of the world, it also is going to mean drastic changes in temperature and weather conditions. With that in mind, it always pays to have a top-notch lawn to help wow any passers by and to just to increase the general vivaciousness of your garden. So without further ado, and before your nosy neighbour can lend their opinion, here are our top tips and tricks to help you in planning and preparing your lawn for the year ahead.
READY ROLL VERSUS SEED?
A question that I too have had to ask myself in the past. Whilst ready-roll seems so much more convenient, is it in fact better or worse in the long run? Is all that cultivation and time spent on seeding a new lawn, ranging from aerating it and dethatching it through to the top-dressing and general maintenance, really worth it? Well let’s start with a ready roll lawn. The benefits include that it can be tailored to suit any shaped property given that you can trim the edges and so neatly fit it down the side of dividers or pathways. Although it can be more time consuming than simply sowing seed, it really is instantly aesthetic (even before it’s in the ground) and is a conventional and easy way to have an instant lawn. This can definitely be a top choice for those who want an instant lush lawn and upgrade to their property. The downside however is that it is more expensive to purchase and maintain.
Seed on the other hand is cheap and preferable for larger areas of soil. It is the traditional and most common means of growing a lawn, being you can simply scatter the seeds and then rake them through the soil. In comparison to the ready-roll however, it takes approximately 4-6 weeks to appear as lush and beautiful as the turf lawn and needs a lot more maintenance in the early stages. In the long term however, a seeded lawn will take root and continue to grow for many years to come without failure.
In terms of weeds, the seeded lawn will be at greater risk of becoming covered in weeds rather than the turf lawn as it is growing alongside them rather than already being fully grown. It is also advisable, with a seed lawn, that you cover it in net for the initial stages, otherwise you will be hosting a banquet for birds to enjoy the exposed seeds.
Whether you opt for ready-roll or seed, they both require the same conditions in order to be able to grow. The section of soil that you have designated to become your new lawn, must be raked through and you must ensure that any existing plants have been removed. This is to make sure that the roots do not strangle your new ones or take up room which could prevent healthy growth. Ensure that you are scrutinous with your raking so that you catch any rocks or stones and can remove them from the area also.
You’ll want to ensure that you also have enough soil in the ground, and if not you may want to consider whether you need a clay based soil or a sand based soil. A quick top up is always preferable and can add much vigour and life to your soon-to-be lawn.
Next, you’ll want to flatten and roll/tread the ground. Treading can simply be done with your feet (in gumboots). If you choose to roll the lawn however, grass rollers are readily available from hire centres. Make the soil firm and eliminate any soft spots which may become exposed. Repeat this process of raking and treading until the entire section is level and firm.
A healthy layer of compost raked through the soil prior to seeding, can help stimulate the growth and get your lawn up and running in no time.
If you choose to do so, and it is advisable to consider, you can now sow some fertilisers or compost into the ground to help prepare it before the seeds or ready roll is laid down.
WHICH GRASS GROWS BEST IN WINTER?
If you’re like me, then chances are you would just think that all grasses grow in winter, owing to the abundance of rain and cold conditions, however, some do in fact grow better than others. There are three varieties that are best suited for growing in the colder New Zealand seasons:
- Chewings Fescue
- Kentucky Bluegrass
Chewings Fescue is a turf grass. It contains long strands and often comes out in tufts, almost resembling pom-poms. It is usually mixed in with ready-roll turfs to give it a softer and finer look, yet most commonly is just grown straight from seed. It requires low maintenance and can be easily cared for in the colder months.
Kentucky Bluegrass, despite its name, is in fact green. It is what most of us would identify as being a very common type of grass and is in almost every seed mixture. It is tolerant of shade, meaning that it is a good choice for growing around the back of the house where the sun is less likely to frequent. It does, however, require copious amounts of water in the summer, especially during heat-waves and when the sun is at its peak. Top-dressing and/or coating the lawn in a small layer of sand, can assist with the retention of water and help you keep on top of your irrigation once the warmer months roll around.
Ryegrass, is a member of the bluegrass family, and the most common type of grass available. It covers almost every surface of land in New Zealand and is low maintenance, fast growing and durable. For those of you who are looking to just grow a lawn, then this is the best bet for you. In the dry periods, it requires quite a bit of watering, but can survive through harsh winters and scorching summers and bounce back just fine. This style of grass is also quite resilient to treading, meaning that it will recover just fine if you opt to mow or walk over it in the winter when it is wet and muddy.
NEW ZEALAND'S HARDIEST GRASS
Kikuyu is a very particular strand of grass, seen in a lot of New Zealand backyards. Do you remember, as kids, going to a field or a lawn and pulling on one of the roots in the ground which would shoot off into the undergrowth and keep going? Almost like pulling thread from a jumper? Well that is what Kikuyu is. A very hardy style of grass which spreads in all directions and usually grows underneath other plants, tiles and even bricks. It shoots up at an alarming rate, and in winter needs to be mown back, usually, every fortnight. In summer it is advisable to mow it weekly.
Check out this great video beneath, for more tips and tricks on getting your lawn winter-ready: