Outdoor Care Overview


A lovely healthy lawn provides a pleasant environment for your family and it's a safe and fun place for the kids to play. Lawns also provide a 'cooling zone' around your home, and they are one of the cheapest and most effective ways to cover areas surrounding your house.

Maintaining an attractive, weed-free and hardy home lawn that's also lawnmower-friendly, is actually quite easy. However, if your lawn is not exactly in good condition, don't despair. Getting it into great shape again is probably easier than you think.

Creating a Lawn


This section will give you some vital background information to help you establish a new turfed area or to create a new lawn where an old lawn used to be. As turning grass into lawn is the main name of the game for Victa, we're not promising you that this brief section is the "be all and end all" of creating a new turfed area. Instead, treat it as more of a checklist of the things you'll have to do to get the job done.

We suggest that you also contact a landscaper or visit a garden centre or nursery for more detailed information.

         

Site Preparation


Soil suitability
When you know what kind of soil you have, the choice of suitable grass types becomes a whole lot easier, because various soils are more suited to certain soils than others.

Firstly, remove the existing ground cover, then perform a simple soil test. Just take a handful of soil, mix it with a small amount of water and then knead it to start making a ball with it in your hands. If the soil ball feels sticky, it probably has a high clay content. If it feels smooth and silky, it has a high silt content. If it feels gritty then the soil has a high sand content.

Next, squeeze some of the soil between your thumb and forefinger in a sausage shape. If it holds together quite well and is fairly long then this test confirms that you have soil has a high clay content. If it crumbles or you can't make a sausage shape at all, then you have either a loam or a sandy soil.

Starting from bare soil


If you're establishing a new lawn in a housing estate or remodelling an existing lawn, it's quite likely that the area has been extensively stripped of topsoil. So you should improve the soil before seeding or laying turf. The best way to incorporate sand, organic matter and other soil amendments is to spread them over the surface and then rake or hoe them through the existing soil, to a depth of 15cm.

Ensure good drainage


A properly drained soil is a must for growing a healthy lawn. You might have to put in artificial drainage if you have heavy clay soil or if your land is sloping and prone to seepage from neighbours. To create a good drainage system simply excavate an area, fill it with rocks and then add topsoil. Speak with a landscaper if you require more detailed information.

Watering systems


For new lawns, now is the time to consider putting in an approved fixed modular sprinkling system, operated either automatically or manually. If you're happy to stick with a moveable watering system, be sure to have enough taps to provide easy sprinkler coverage over your entire lawn. However, please check your local water restrictions and regulations, and consider installing an approved rainwater sytem and tank to supply your irrigation systems.

Putting in mower-strips


Use bark chips, brick pavers, railway sleepers or split pine logs to clearly define where your garden ends and your lawn begins. It'll make lawnmowing much easier and far less messy too!

        

Grass Selection


Warm Season & Cool Season grasses
Australia obviously has far more warm climate areas than cool, but there are plenty of grass types to choose from in each category.

Warm season grasses grow best with full sun at temperatures between 27 and 30 C.
The most popular lawn varieties include couch, kikuyu, buffalo and Queensland blue couch.
Cool season grasses on the other hand are suitable for cooler areas where the temperature ranges from 16 to 24 C and can tolerate partial shade. The most common species include bent, fescues and ryegrass.

Regional Suggestions


The chart below provides you with some good suggestions for the type of grass species that will perform well in your part of Australia.

If your lawn area is shade-affected look for the grass types that perform well under these circumstances. If your land gets plenty of sun, choose a species that is well suited to these conditions. Our suggestions are for those of us who consider themselves to be average to good gardeners. Keen gardeners should also seek out advice from garden centres and nurseries.

Ideal Species Chart

Where You Live For Extensive Shading For Sun
Adelaide Tall Fescue Fescue Kentucky Bluegrass Couch
Brisbane Buffalo Creeping Fescue Tall Fescue Qld Blue Couch Couch
Canberra Tall Fescue Ryegrass Tall Fescue Ryegrass
Darwin Couch Carpet Grass Bahia Grass Couch
Melbourne Ryegrass Bluegrass Tall Fescue Fescue Ryegrass Couch
Perth Tall Fescue Ryegrass Couch Saltwater Couch
Sydney Fescue Ryegrass Couch Buffalo Kikuyu Couch

Lawn Establishment


Seeding


If you decide to seed, make sure you spread the seeds evenly over the soil at the seeding rate specified on the packet. If you underseed the growth layer will be too thin to protect against weed attack and if you overseed the young grasses will have to compete too hard for nutrients. Try not to seed when it's windy and mix a little sand with the seeds so you know where you've seeded.

Laying turf


For those who want an instant solution and chose turf, make sure you have it delivered as close as possible to the area where it will be laid. Keep rolls moist with occasional watering and start laying turf right away, starting at the furthermost point and working your way in. This way, you'll be getting closer to the turf stack as the day goes on.

Planting runners


Remove all weeds, add organic matter as compost and hoe through the soil to a depth of around 15cm to get your lawn area ready for runners. Then plant your runners about 5cm apart, eased just below ground level. Couch and Kikuyu stolons are the most popular runners.

What to do after you've sewn, laid or planted

Water regularly


Whether you've seeded, laid turf or put in runners, one critical factor applies to all three methods. And that is the fact that you must water your new lawn regularly to keep the soil from dying out. During the first two weeks, it is recommended to water twice a day for an hour at a time. In particularly warm and windy weather, watering three times a day may be required. However, this is obviously dependent on local water restrictions and regulations.

Add fertiliser


Newly established lawn has different requirements from a mature lawn. Choose 'lawn starter' fertilisers from your hardware store, nursery or garden centre. These fertilisers have more nitrogen and phosphorous than general-purpose lawn foods. Always check the packaging for the correct dosage.

Don't mow low


It's really important to give your new lawn time to establish itself before you mow it for the first time. Let the grass grow to a height of 5-6cm before the first mowing and then for the first cut, set your mower's cutting height so that it reduces the height of your new grass to 3-4cm. Subsequent mowings should also be light and frequent and you should never remove more than 40% of the leaf at any one mowing.

Enjoy it!
Now it's time to put your feet up for a while and admire your new lawn. However, don't leave it to long before undertaking some maintainence so that the grass remains lush and attractive.