Quick guide to the perfect lawn
A well maintained lawn is still a very popular feature in Australian gardens, and can be a source of great pleasure and pride. Once established maintaining your lawn is fairly easy, and with a few simple steps you can keep your lawn looking lush and green all year round.
- ‘Dethatch’ your lawn in Spring by cutting quite low, right back to grass runners, then top dress and fertilise to promote healthy root systems in your grass. Rake up grass clippings after mowing and compost them or use them to mulch around the base of trees and shrubs as they will harm your lawn if left there to break down. Mow once in Autumn, use a higher setting than usual as the grass is not growing as quickly.
- Mow more regularly in Spring and Summer when growth is faster. Mowing heights vary depending on the type of grass and the amount of direct sunlight the lawn receives but a good guideline is to cut 1/3 of the blade, leaving roughly 2/3 of the blade of grass. Always use a sharp blade when mowing and do not mow when the grass is wet. Alternate the direction in which you mow to keep your grass healthy and thick. Do not mow newly established lawns until they are roughly 8cm high to allow your new grass to establish properly.
- Follow mowing with a light feeding and topdressing, especially in Spring and Summer. Use equal portions of River sand, manure or compost and blood and bone to make your own topdress for your lawn, or alternately there are many premixed topdressing products available which are suitable for lawns.
- In Spring and Summer you can seed new grass to fill out any thin or bare patches in your lawn. Aerate the soil by poking holes and loosening the top soil with a rake before seeding new grass, this will help to avoid problems with soil compaction. This will help water penetrate and help your lawn to establish a strong root system. Water about once a week through summer, preferably twice subject to your local water restrictions. Seed in new grass in Spring after mowing and top dressing, water regularly while the grass is getting established. Choosing a drought-tolerant grass will help to conserve water and ensure your grass stays lush through the harsh Australian summer.
- Use a selective weed killer to control serious problems in your lawn, however be careful when selecting a product to choose the right one for your lawn, as many of these are aimed at broadleaf weeds and will also kill Buffalo and Kikuyu grass which are common lawn grasses in Australia. The best way to maintain your lawn and control weeds at the same time is simple. With regular mowing and seeding of grass when necessary you should be able to keep the weeds down and keep your grass looking lush and inviting.
- If you are starting from scratch it may be best to purchase turf for a head start on establishing a lawn. Seeding grass to create a lawn takes patience as the grass takes time to root and established and will require regular maintenance and attention until it has grown into a well established and even lawn. There are many kinds of grass available as turf, and if you want the look of an established lawn without the wait laying turf is the way to go.
Choosing the right grass or combination of grasses for your area is one of the most important things to consider when establishing a new lawn. Check out Angus’ tips on the Five Best Grasses for Australian Lawns for more on choosing the right grass for your lawn.
About the author
Angus Stewart is the author of several horticutural books including "Creating an Australian Garden". Angus also appears regularly on Australian television and radio shows. Angus's website is called "Gardening with Angus".