The long and the short of lawn care
A beautiful, lush, healthy lawn requires time and effort, but it complements the rest of your garden. If you spend a little time and effort and follow the tips below, you too can have a lawn that is the neighbours’ envy.
Watering your lawn is required to supply the right amount of moisture for healthy growth and it keeps the soil cool.
Water early mornings during the coolest time of the day to reduce evaporation. Watering in the early morning allows water to seep down to the root system of the lawn, instead of evaporating. Late afternoon watering can cause disease if the lawn does not dry by the evening.
Adjust the watering of your lawn according to the soil type. If you have loam soil, give your lawn a good soaking once a week, around 25mm of water per week. This is the perfect amount of water and will keep your lawn hydrated. Sandy soils must be watered more frequently as they drain quicker. Clay soils tend to retain water, and this could prevent your lawn from using the moisture.
Frequently check your lawn for puddles or dry spots. If you have dry spots, water more often and if you see puddles, water less often. Warm season grasses require a deep watering to force the roots to grow deeper. Deep roots help the lawn to survive drought. Cool season lawns, however, require more frequent and shallow watering as the roots systems do not grow deep.
When the lawn blades do not spring back as you walk across your lawn, it requires watering. A healthy lawn feels soft under your feet. Water areas where dogs urinate, (especially female dogs), immediately or more frequently to prevent yellow, dead patches on your lawn.
Top dressing is a mixture of organic matter and soil. It will level the surface of an uneven lawn and will assist the recovery of the lawn after winter. Make sure you get your top dressing from a reputable company as soil with weeds will exacerbate weed problems. Top dressing can be applied between August and February. Apply 1m³ weed free top dressing to cover approximately 100m² of lawn. Do not top dress cool season grasses like Pro-Lawn All Seasons Grass Mix.
One of the most important lawn care requirements for a beautiful lawn, is correct and regular mowing. Make sure your mower is serviced and that the blades are sharp. Blunt blades will tear the grass instead of cutting it, which is unsightly and unhealthy – leaving it vulnerable to disease. It is tempting to cut your lawn as close to the ground as possible but resist the temptation as it can become unhealthy and start to die off. The aim is to keep the height at about 2,5 to 4cm. For lawns that take a lot of wear, the height must be raised to about 5cm. Do not remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade, rather mow more frequently as the taller height is healthier and gives a lush, healthy appearance. Cool seasons grass like Protek’s Pro-Lawn All Seasons Grass Mix, must be mowed at a height of 3 – 4cm in full sun and 5 – 6cm in shade. For a crisp, tidy look, do not forget to trim the edges of the lawn.
To ensure that you have a healthy lawn, you must fertilize during the growing season. After a cold winter, your lawn needs some encouragement to grow. Start off by feeding it with General Fertilizer 2.3.2 or for a greener option, NutriGreen Gwano Pellets. These are balanced formulas that stimulate the growth of leaves and roots.When the lawn starts growing strong, you can start applying a high nitrogen fertilizer such as Lawn and Foliage Fertilizer 7:1:3 or for a greener option, NutriGreen Gro Green or pure nitrogen, Nitrogreen LAN 17 %. Apply every six weeks and alternate between Lawn and Foliage Fertilizer or NutriGreen Gro Green and Nitrogreen LAN. Always follow instructions as too much Nitrogen can burn the lawn. Water well after application. Lawn in shady spots, like underneath trees, require more nutrition as the lawn must compete with the trees and shrubs for food.
Fertilize warm season grasses like kikuyu and LM during spring and summer, and cool season grasses in autumn and spring. To ensure an even spread of fertilizer, rather make use of a spreader – this will also save you time.
Always follow instructions on the label when using any pesticides. It is not the case of “the more you apply, the more they will die”! Change the insecticides’ mode of action frequently to prevent insects from building up a resistance against a specific mode of action.
No matter how much effort you put into your landscaping, your garden won’t look good if the grass is patchy and weed infested. Weeds are not just a nuisance; they cause damage to your lawn if left unattended. Most weeds are broad leafed and are quite simple to get rid of when using the correct selective herbicide.
Versus, Pure Lawn and Scatterkill for Weeds are selective herbicides, i.e. they control broadleaf weeds on lawns without killing the lawn. Scatterkill for Weeds is packaged in very convenient, ready-to-use shakers. the pH level of water. For increased efficiency, the mixing water must first be buffered before the herbicide is added to the water. All Buff lowers the pH of alkaline spray water and raises the pH of acidic spray water to an optimum pH of between 4 and 6.5. To further improve the effectiveness, Sprayfilm 10 must be added to the mixture. It is a spreader, adhesive, as well as UV protector and can break down the waxy layer that covers some leaves, (especially those of young weeds), improving penetration of the herbicide and preventing excess runoff. It is rainproof within 60 minutes and can withstand 25mm of rain.
With Sprayrite Spray Indicator you ensure that all weeds are treated. Sprayrite is a blue dye which temporarily colours sprayed areas in blue. The dye will disappear in sunlight within 48 hours. This avoids over-application of pesticides and prevents skipping weeds.
Insects and Fungal Infections:
At first glance, the damage caused by various insects and fungi seems remarkably similar. It is therefore necessary to take a closer look at the patches on your lawn and literally dig a little deeper to identifying the problem and choose the correct remedy. There is a variety of insects that cause damage if they are not controlled. The biggest evildoers are crickets, mole crickets, harvester termites and lawn caterpillars.
Mole crickets live mainly underground where they eat plant roots. They surface at night and feed on the lawn. In large numbers, they can cause significant damage. There are noticeable small piles of soil on the lawn. It should not be confused with harvester termite mounds, (which are much larger) or earthworm mounds, which are also larger and have a coarse texture. Protek’s Imidor 350SC is a systemic insecticide which will quickly get rid of this pest.
Common garden crickets come in a variety of sizes and colors. They eat seedlings, plant roots, and dig holes in lawns, leaving bare patches around the holes. To eradicate crickets, Protek’s Carbakil can be used. This safer green band formulation is packaged in convenient, ready-to-use shakers. Lawn caterpillars are green to brown in color and feed on the grass around their holes. However, the patches caused by the caterpillars are significantly larger than those of the crickets. Controlling the caterpillars is easy if you spot them in time. Protek Knox Worm, Kemprin or Cypermethrin control caterpillars as well as a wide variety of other garden insects.
White grub also causes large, irregular dead patches on the lawn. They feed on the roots of your lawn and there are no visible signs of them above the ground. They are white, fleshy, C-shaped fruit beetle larvae. Imidor 350SC is a systemic insecticide and Knox Worm and Kemprin are contact insecticides which can be applied to control the insects. Harvester termites are very destructive as they eat plant roots and grass. The presence of small holes, (crop holes) surrounded by loose piles of soil is a sign that they are present. These termites come out at night or on cool days and cut pieces of grass which they then carry into their nests. Protek’s Termite Stop is packed in handy shakers and is a ready-to-use granular bait which will quickly eradicate the problem.
Brown Spot and Dollar Spot are fungi that thrive under humid conditions on lawns. Brown Spot cause large brown patches on your lawn and can be up to several meters in diameter, while Dollar Spot is the size of a R5 coin. Fairy ring causes dark green circles on lawn which are sometimes surrounded by mushrooms. To eradicate and prevent fungal infections, a systemic fungicide such as Protek’s Tenzole, (preventative and corrective treatment) or a contact killer such as Mycoguard, (preventative treatment) can be used.
Fill bare patches caused by insects or fungi by overseeding with grass seed or laying sod. If you leave it bare, weeds will fill these patches – spoiling your immaculate lawn. Taking good care of your lawn will not only give your family a reason to go outside for hours of fun and games on a lush, welcoming lawn, but will add value to your property. Above all, you too will make your neighbours green with envy!