Lawns provide us with valuable open space to stretch out and relax, play or entertain, making them an essential component of most gardens. But there can be some challenges in keeping lawns in good shape.
As lawns come into active growth, some additional maintenance now will set the lawn up for the summer months ahead.
Over winter broad leaf weeds may have established and a build-up thatch and soil compaction in the lawn can lead to weak growth.
Aerating the lawn can assist with removing thatch, especially if you have a large area that's compacted. You can hire a lawn aerator to make the task easier.
A garden fork can be used for small areas by pushing the tines into the soil and gently rocking the fork backwards and forwards a few times. Once it is aerated, spread a fine layer of sand or a top dressing over the lawn and use the back of the rake or a level lawn to spread topdressing evenly.
Fertilising the lawn once every three months with a pelletised chicken manure will keep it healthy, apply fertiliser to a moist lawn and water in well after application.
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Mow regularly, but keep that cutter height high. For the softest green lawn keep the sward length to 30mm or even higher. By encouraging this leafy growth lawns can out compete weeds.
The most popular lawn these days are the soft leaf Buffalo varieties, they are the best all-round turf for most climates and are more tolerant of shade than other turf varieties. Buffalo varieties are also more resistant to several turf diseases and require fewer cuts than the other common lawn, kikuyu.
There are however some turf varieties such as Sir Grange zoysia, a delicate, fine-leafed grass that is soft underfoot and requires less maintenance than some of the more traditional turf varieties. Renowned for its ability to withstand heat, cold, droughts and high levels of foot traffic, zoysia varieties are suitable for those regions with tough weather conditions. Zoysia Nara is the most salt tolerant native grass on the market, which makes it ideal around swimming pools.
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For a truly low maintenance or no-mow lawn area, a synthetic turf may be appropriate. With its lifelike appearance and minimal maintenance requirements synthetics are becoming popular.
They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but with synthetic turf at least you don't have to mow it.
- John Gabriele is a horticulture teacher with a love for green spaces.