A well fed and groomed lawn is an asset.
All living organisms, lawn and plants require nourishment to stay healthy. A well-maintained lawn will have healthy turf, rich in needed macro and micro elements with a lush green carpet that will smother any weeds that tend to invade the lawn, by smothering out the weeds before it can get a stronghold in the lawn.
Vegetation can absorb only so much fertiliser over a given time period. The excess will most probably be leaching past the plant roots when watered.
Overfeeding can also cause an excess of tender new sprouts which is highly susceptible to insects and require more watering and mowing.
It will possibly burn the lawn, thus leaving it discoloured. The golden rule is to ALWAYS READ THE LABEL prior using the product.
Do not ignore the quantities recommended, as it WILL destroy your lawn.
Slow release fertilisers are great for homeowner use due to their longer lasting ability and the less likelihood of burning the grass with over fertilisation. Check the label and local garden centres for recommendations on your particular grass species. Recommended application rates are generally based on the amount of fertiliser required to supply a given amount of 500g Nitrogen per 300m2 of turf
Always apply the correct amount of fertiliser product to plants. Do not assume by doubling a dosage that you are hastening a plant’s ability to grow better in a shorter time frame. Apply fertilisers and immediately water the garden area after application to wash the fertilisers off the plant tissues and onto the soil. Never apply fertilisers when a plant is stressed from disease or drought, as it may be more sensitive to the drying effects of fertiliser salts. Also do not apply fertilisers onto wet leaves. Particles of fertiliser salts may dissolve on wet leaves and instantly act against the healthy plant tissues they come in contact with.
The best way to avoid weeds is to have an actively, healthy growing turf that grows vigorous to form a dense canopy that keeps light from the soil surface. Weed infestation will be kept at bay if you follow a fertilising and watering program and mow the lawn regularly. Make sure you understand the use of herbicides and insecticides. It is best to make use of specialist information on the kind of product to be used.
Aerating and Lawn Dressing
Make use of a spike roller to aerate compacted turf. It allows air, fertiliser and water to penetrate down to the root zone of the turf. On smaller areas use a garden fork. Push the fork all the way into the soil and lift it slightly to allow for better aeration.
Cover turf with 20mm of quality weed free lawn dressing to fill all hollow places. To avoid that grass die, it is better to use a little soil over time to fill deep depressions.
Alternatively, the turf can be lifted, soil put underneath it before it is put in again. Water turf thoroughly after spreading lawn dressing.
Never put lawn dressing on LM lawn or evergreen seeded turf.
Fertiliser content is listed numerically in order of:
- Nitrogen N: Stimulates growth in the leaf blades and gives the turf the green colour in the leaf blades. Application of Nitrogen must be balanced with other plant nutrients. In the right amounts, Nitrogen will stimulate the plants' usage of Phosphorus, Potassium, and other plant nutrients. Nitrogen in excess will cause weakening of the plants and decrease it’s resistance to diseases. (Leafs & shoots)
- Phosphorus P: Stimulates early root growth and development, and helps to increase soil bacteria. Unlike Nitrogen, an excess of Phosphorus does not have the harming effects when applied in excess. (Stems & roots)
- Potassium K: Encourages a healthy root system, promotes steady growth, counteracts the harmful effects of Nitrogen, promotes disease resistance, and helps to balance the effect of Nitrogen and Phosphorus.
- Calcium: Calcium has several useful benefits. It indirectly increases the availability of Nitrogen, helps to form cell walls, neutralises harmful acids, and generally aids in the efficiency of fertiliser. Calcium rich soil aids in the availability of Potassium to plants and grasses. (Flower & fruits)
When to Fertilise
Typically, an ideal time to fertilise your lawn will be in autumn one to two months prior to the first frost. This will help to winterize your lawn and promote early growth and root development, once the winter dormant periods are over. Late spring fertilising is also acceptable and sometimes necessary once the spring growth surge is over. This will usually be around mid-Oct to late Nov. You may also apply small amounts of fertiliser throughout the year whenever turf appearance is starting to decline. You should confirm though that the decline is from lack of nutrients and not from normal dormancy due to periods of drought.
It’s best to use some form of broadcast spreader rather than applying the fertiliser by hand. You will receive a more uniform application by using a spreader with an adjustable application rate. Spreading fertiliser by hand can create areas with excessive fertiliser concentrations, which can lead to burning the grass. This can disturb the soils PH and create additional problems besides the dead spot in your lawn.When using a broadcast spreader, try to apply half of the amount required in an up and down pattern, and the other half in right angles to the first half. This helps to give the lawn a uniformed application.
When using a broadcast spreader, try to apply half of the amount required in an up and down pattern, and the other half in right angles to the first half. This helps to give the lawn a uniformed application. Apply fertilisers just before a good rain, otherwise water thoroughly after application to help the fertiliser absorb into the soil. This will also help to prevent burning the grass.
Lawn Mowing Tips
It is hard to believe something as simple as mowing lawn can play such a major role in lawn care. A properly mowed lawn is essential for maintaining a proper balance between all the key factors in a healthy lawn.
During periods of excess rain, it is easy for the lawn to get out of hand. In this case, it is important not to attempt to catch up in one mowing session, to mow higher and more frequent. Remove only 1/3 of leaf blade per cutting session until the grass is under control. It is a good habit to match mowing schedule to growth rate. It might be necessary to mow the lawn twice per week during times of active growth.
Properly mowing height depends primarily on grass type. The general rule of thumb is never removing more than 1/3 of leave blade during a mowing session. Mowing to short will cause the grass to use stored food and nutrients for regrowth. During periods of heavy stress, it can result in turf lost. Scalping can produce thinned or bald patches, which makes it easier for weeds to become established. Frequent mowing will also keep the length of clippings to a minimum.
It is a common misconception that grass clippings cause thatch buildup. Mowing only 1/3 of the blade, produce smaller clippings. Grass clippings can produce as much as 25% of turf’s nitrogen requirement.
Sharp Mowing Blades
Ensure mower blades are sharp. Mowing with dull blades tear or rip the grass blade, this weakens it and results in ragged discoloured leaf tips.
Avoid mowing wet lawn. Wet grass does not disperse evenly and can result in clumping of grass clippings. It clogs up the mower and can create an environment ideally suited for fungus growth and lawn diseases. Alternate the direction of mowing each time the lawn is mowed. It will reduce rutting and produce a more even cut by forcing the grass blades to grow in a more straight and erect manner Change mower oil every 50 hours of use or once per year. Clean air filter after every use.
The saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side” could only have been coined by a discontented gardener gazing enviously at the neighbours' perfectly manicured patch serviced by Greenturion!
Healthy, green, well-kept lawn is gardens s greatest asset. But it is easy for the lawn to become frayed at the edges, thin under a tree, afflicted by brown spots and insects that chomp on its roots. Then the whole appearance of the garden is affected.
Lawns do not require more or less care than most other plants. Like everything else, good initial soil preparation and routine care, like regular mowing and watering, fertilizing,
and pest and disease management, ensure that the lawn just keeps doing its thing.
The devil, however, is in the details. Knowing the correct mowing height does make a difference.
So, too, does the correct fertilizer, frequency of watering, whether to top-dress or not and knowing what causes the dead patches.
August is the month when lawns receive their spring treatment. In addition to setting out the do’s and don’ts, we have included the most frequently asked questions about lawns.
Spring treatment does not equate with top dressing. Shoots pushing through a top-dressed lawn seem so much greener, but it is just the contrast with the soil.
Aeration of the soil followed by 5:1:5 fertilizers (organic or chemical) are far more beneficial.Top dressing is useful for leveling the lawn and filling in hollows or for adding organic material to the soil. It should only be applied to Kikuyu and Cynodon varieties, not cool season varieties and LM grass. These latter grasses grow from a crown that dies when covered. Use sifted compost or a certified, weed-free topsoil as a top dressing and rake over a thin layer, not more than 2 cm deep.
Three essential spring actions
Scarify Kikuyu or Cynodon varieties that have built up an underlying layer of dead grass. Mow the lawn as low as possible. Tease out the dead, thatch material with a rake.
Aerate the soil. Lawns that grow in shade or take heavy foot traffic suffer from compacted soil. Water runs off without penetrating the soil and soil life suffers from a lack of oxygen.
A spiked roller does the job quickly or you can use a garden fork. Push the tines into the soil to a depth of 10-15 cm. Tilt the fork backwards at a 15 degree angle and then pull it out. Do this every 10-15 cm. After the soil has been aerated, sprinkle superphosphate into the holes so that it reaches the roots. Follow this with an application of 5:1:5 at 30 g per square meter. Water lawn well after fertilizing. Even if you do not scarify or aerate, still fertilize because this supplies food for spring growth.
How do I get rid of weeds that have overtaken the lawn?
The best time to act against weeds is from August to October, before the weeds flower. First, allow the lawn and weeds to develop plenty of leaves by fertilizing and mowing on the highest setting. After a month or so, use a selective herbicide for broadleaf weeds. Allowing the lawn and weeds to grow well before treatment prevents bare patches after the weeds are removed. The lawn grass may go yellow but will recover. If the weeds persist, apply again after a month. A longer term solution is weeding by hand. Make sure that the roots are removed. Prevention is the best cure; remove weeds as you see them, before they take over.
NB: Read the label on the herbicide. If it says non selective, it will kill everything, including the lawn.
Why does my grass go white after mowing?
The lawn is being cut too short, and this exposes the softer, hidden parts of the leaf blade to the sun. Cutting the lawn too short reduces the root depth and the lawn dries out quickly in very hot, dry weather. Another reason could be lawnmower damage, caused by blunt blades that tear the grass, resulting in a brown or whitish look. The torn leaves are more susceptible to disease. It could also be that the lawn is uneven and there has been a build-up of thatch in patches that was not cleared away in spring.
What then is the correct height for mowing?
The one third rule for mowing is to avoid removing more than one third of the leaf length at one time. On fine Cynodon lawns the recommended height is 1-2 cm; for coarser grass
that grows in the sun (kikuyu) the cutting height is 3-4 cm; and for cool season grass, especially the shade varieties, the cutting height is 6 cm.
Leaving the lawn longer lets it develop deeper roots, making it more drought-tolerant. The longer grass also protects the roots from the sun and gives the lawn more energy because all the food is stored in the leaves.
How should I cut the lawn before going on holiday?
Trim it as usual but when you return, do not cut it down immediately. Reduce the height gradually over a week or two.
What type of mower should I choose?
Cylinder mowers can be more accurately set for height of cut and are better for mowing fine grass. They cannot be used on rough ground or wet grass and are more expensive than rotary mowers. Rotary mowers are more suitable for coarse grasses like Kikuyu. They are cheaper to buy and maintain than cylinder mowers. They do not flatten the grass during mowing and many of them can be adjusted to mow at 6 cm. Both are available as petrol or electric models. Generally, electric mowers are better for smaller lawns (less than 200m2) because the cable does not have to extend too far, whereas petrol mowers are better for lawns larger than 200m2.
How often should I fertilize?
The first treatment should be with the spring program. After that, it depends on whether the lawn is kept short or left longer.
Lawn that is cut short should be fertilized once a month to give it energy to replace the cut growth. Lawns left longer can be fertilized four times a year-in August, November, February and April. Fertilise cool season grasses in April to keep them green in winter.
Use 5:1:5 (or Vigorosa) or alternate the 5:1:5 with 4:3:4 or LAN (for acid soil) or superphosphate (for alkaline soil). Do not over-fertilize, especially with nitrogen, because this lowers the resistance to disease. Potassium promotes disease resistance, which is why 5:1:5 fertilizers are better.
How do I prevent the lawn from being a water guzzler?
Water deeply but less frequently so that the lawn develops a strong root system. Frequency also depends on soil type and the season. Lawn in shade needs a third less water. Automatic irrigation systems should have separate lines for plants and lawn in full sun and lawn in shade.
What causes the brown patches on the lawn?
Round patches or spots of dead grass 2, 5 cm in diameter indicate an infection of dollar spot while brown patch consists of large, brown, circular patches. People or pets walking on the grass spread the diseases. Use a fungicide and repeat every seven to 10 days to keep the plants protected. Prevent fungal diseases by making sure there is proper drainage so that water doesn’t stand in puddles. Brown patches can also be
caused by lawn caterpillars. Spraying with Eco Insect Control or Margaret Roberts Biological Caterpillar Insecticide will not harm birds or earthworms. Alternatively, water the lawn well to bring the caterpillars to the surface where they can be eaten by the birds.
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Kindly contact us with any of your requirements and we will gladly assist.