A lawn you can really be proud of
Taking care of your lawn is as important as taking care of your house. A beautiful lawn does not come without some effort.
Alex Pollock of Pollock Gardening Services says a good-looking lawn needn't take all your time or money as long as you keep it healthy.
"A healthy and attractive lawn is one feature of a home that most people value almost as much as the house itself. A fine lawn can add value to your property, so it is important to keep it maintained and manicured.
Some people believe lawns just waste valuable space, but a lawn provides more than an aesthetic addition to a nice home.
Preparing the site for your lawn
Pollock says good preparation is the key to a good result and it is at this step that the real hard work has to be done.
"Preparing the site to lay a new lawn is essential," Pollock says. "This is the stage when lots of effort needs to be made in order to end up with a good-looking and hard-wearing lawn."
The main steps
l Clear the site down to the bare earth. Level the site (if needed).
l Drain the site (not needed if drainage is fine).
l Dig over the site.
l Break down the soil and level it.
l Remove dormant weed seeds.
l Final raking. Site is now ready for sowing seed.
Taking care of your lawn
Pollock says there is so much more to caring for a lawn than just cutting it.
"Like any other plant you have to feed and water your lawn regularly if you want it to thrive," he says.
Watering the lawn
Pollock says factors such as the soil, weather and management practices all play a part in the water needs of lawns.
He says a lawn can be watered at any time of the day if it is severely stressed. But if you are merely maintaining your lawn you should avoid watering in the middle of the day and late evening.
"Late-evening watering can encourage the growth of fungus, while heat-of-the-day watering wastes water. The best time of day for lawn watering is early in the morning before the sun scorches the landscape, giving it plenty of time to dry before evening."
l Decide before summer to either water lawns consistently as needed throughout the season, or let lawns go dormant as conditions turn warm and dry.
l Overwatering, such as a soggy sodded lawn, can be a common problem.
l Spread the water uniformly across the lawn. Sprinklers vary in distribution patterns, and require spray overlap for uniform coverage.
When is it time to water?
The first few warm days of summer do not automatically mean one has to water a lawn. In fact, allowing lawns to start to go under mild drought stress actually increases rooting. In general, water as infrequently as possible.
"Water thoroughly so moisture gets down to the depth of the roots," Pollock says.
"Exceptions to this general rule would be newly seeded lawns where the surface needs to stay moist and newly sodded lawns that have not yet rooted to the soil of the site.
"Otherwise, avoid frequent watering that promotes shallower root systems and weeds."
Pollock insists that the best type of watering system is natural rainwater.
"Mow grass to the proper height with a mower with a sharp blade," Pollock advises. "Never cut off more than one third of the blade when mowing.
"Grass needs the surface area of the blade to sustain itself. Removal of too much of the blade creates a good environment for disease."
He says people should inspect their lawns regularly for disease, insects and weeds.
"Ask for advice from a credible gardening service on which fertilisers and pesticides to use and how to use them.