Healthy Lawn Grass Landscaping

This section offers easy to use advice on how to maintain your lawn grass in a healthy and vibrant condition regardless of whether it is planted over a large, park-like landscape or planted as a smaller area in-between your beds or perimeter walls...

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Landscaping Healthy Lawn Grass

A healthy well cared for green lawn is an attraction and therefore an asset to any property be it large, small, residential, industrial, sports field or park but a neglected lawn is of no value or attraction to anyone. There are three main types of lawn grasses which are used by home gardeners and landscape professionals in the garden, parks or sports fields of South Africa and each one of them have their uses and specific characteristics. Some types of lawn grasses withstand heavy traffic where they are used on sports fields while others are better suited to shady, sunny, small or large gardens and lastly there are those which will grow in poor soils.

Common Lawn Grass Varieties

KIKUYU A fast growing very vigorous grass which needs good soil, plenty of fertilising and water. Kikuyu must preferably be planted in sunny positions, although one sees it growing in light shade.  It can be invasive to flower beds and paved or tarred areas.  It is not the waterwise choice.
BUFFALO  (Stenotaphrum secondatum) A slower growing grass, flatter in habit with deep green-grey blades. This grass will grow in either full sun or part shade. The soil can be light, heavy, damp or dry because it does not require much fertilising, cutting or watering.
BERMUDA (Cynodon Dactylon) A vigorous, fast growing grass best suited for sunny positions and light sandy soils, although it can be grown on heavier textured soils. This Fine-quick or Cynodon grass grows vigorously in summer when the weather is warmer. The growth rate slows in winter. The Fine-Quick grass type does not need as much feeding, watering or cutting as Kikuyu requires unless one is using it or one of the other varieties of Cynodons for golf tees, putting greens and bowling greens. It will look better if it is fertilised and watered.
LM BEREA (Dactylocenium australe) This grass is more shade tolerant than Buffalo grass and is the recomended choice if you need to grow a lawn in a shady area.  It has the added advantage of having a reasonably similar leaf shape and size to Buffalo so it can be planted in the shadier areas were your Buffalo lawn is becoming sparse and the two grass types will knit together with little variance in appearance except for the lighter leaf colour of the LM Berea grass.  Remember to set your lawn mower to the maximum height setting when cutting grass in the shadier areas of your lawn.  The lawn needs extra leaf area to absorb enough light to grow successfully.

Soil Preparation

Here are a few basic steps which one should follow when planting a new lawn:

  1. Dig over the area to be planted to a depth of approximately 30cm (12") and remove any rubble, rocks or rubbish that you encounter.
  2. Spread a generous amount of compost together with approximately 150 grams of HOOF & HORNMEAL, KELPAC soil conditioner as per the manufacturer's instructions and 100 grams of superphosphate over each one square metre of soil. The former mentioned organic fertilisers will not burn the newly planted grass, albeit in sod, plug, runner, or seed form and will improve the soil texture and therefore the growth of the new grass.
  3. After applying the compost and fertiliser dig over the area with a garden fork to a depth of 5 to 7cm, level the area off and then finally moisten.

Planting Your Lawn Grass

Depending upon the variety of grass chosen one may either plant from runners, sods, from mat form (similar to carpet tiles), from rooted plugs in the case of Buffalo grass or from seed, as in the case of Shade-over or Shadi-lawn.
Always plant or sow in damp soil, firming the soil as you plant or sow or in the case of sod, lay them close together on damp level soil and when completely laid cover over with a lawn dressing or suitable soil so that the newly laid mats are protected from drying out especially if planting in summer.
Keep your newly planted grass seed, plugs or runners damp by watering each day for the first week (water twice a day if the weather is hot and dry) then every second day during the second week, and then about every third day during the third week. Increase the amount of water applied in each watering session as the frequency of the watering decreases.
Grass sods should be kept well watered for the first week and thereafter twice per week for the second week and then once per week thereafter.

Watering Your Lawn Grass

It is essential that newly planted grass be kept damp so that the new roots readily become established. Should you allow the soil surface to dry out for a day or two, the new grass or grass seed may shrivel and die.

Water Penetration into Different Soils
Water Penetration into Different Soils

However, established lawns should be watered deeply but less frequently and not watered lightly every day or every second day as is often the case where automatic watering systems are used. It is better to water once per week to a depth of 30mm per application than to give two or three millimetres every day. Frequent light watering wastes water due to excessive evaporation and frequent heavy watering leaches nutrients out of your soil.


25mm of rain will penetrate 30mm into sandy soil, about 20mm into loamy soil and about 10 to 12mm into clay, therefore, if a lawn is to be watered to a depth of 30mm once per week it would need 25mm of water if planted in sandy soil, about 40mm of water if planted in loamy soil and about 70mm in clay. It is worth noting that you can save substantial amounts of water by improving clay soil with compost.


Sprinkler "Rainfall" Test

Sprinkler "Rainfall" Test
Test the "rainfall" from the sprinkler by using a simple scheme.

Place a number of coffee cans or plastic bowls, spaced at regular intervals in a line running from the sprinkler. Measure how long it takes to fill those jars to the average depth that your particular soil type requires and then you will know how long you will need to leave your sprinkler watering the area in question.

Fertilising a Lawn

To keep a lawn looking neat and attractive it must be regularly cut, fertilised and watered. The more fertiliser and water you apply the faster the grass will grow and the more that you will have to cut. Fertilisers that have a high N number contain a high quantity of nitrogen and it is this part that stimulates growth and makes the grass go a deep green colour. Fast growing grasses such as Kikuyu, growing in light textured soils will need more fertilising than a heavier textured soil. Lawn grasses such as Kikuyu and Fine-Quick should be fertilised about every two months from the first week September until the last week of April using a fertiliser that is suited to your grass and soil type.
Slow growing grasses such as Buffalo and Wonder-Lawn can be given light applications about every three months depending upon soil texture and type.
Spray Ammonium Sulphate or Limestone Ammonium Sulphate on lawn areas that have been neglected using a Mix Nozzle and it will work wonders for the condition of your lawn but this should only be used as a quick improver and not for long lasting results.
Grass should be allowed to grow relatively thick in summer because this helps to keep the soil cool and therefore more moist and so requires less water. The grass mat can be progressively cut shorter in the Autumn (late March and early April) so as to get a relatively short firm lawn by the end of May. This allows light, air and moisture to penetrate the mat of the lawn. Rotting and disease can occur in the undergrowth if the grass mat is kept thick in winter but be careful not to cut "Shade-Over" type grass short because it will die off, particularly in the deeper shade areas.
Weeds can be kept under control either by using a two-pronged fork to remove occasional largish weeds or by using a selective herbicide but always check to see which herbicide can be used to control your problem. Regular mowing makes it difficult for many weed types to establish themselves in your lawn.

Top Dressing a Lawn

Sometimes a lawn needs to be levelled or top-dressed but it does not follow that it is an absolutely essential part of having an attractive lawn. Light dressings of good quality compost or a mixture of compost and river sand applied after you have either cut or fertilised your lawn will work wonders. Do not top dress in the middle of winter when the growth is at its slowest but rather start in spring and continue as and when necessary right through late April. Any severe depressions should be filled in by first lifting the sod, filling in the depression with good soil and then replanting the sod.

Lawn Grass Disease Control

Pests and fungi attack any type of plant. Grass, roses, vegetables, shrubs, fruit trees, etc. have their share of insects and fungi which attack them from time to time.

KIKUYU grass, is very prone to three fungal diseases:

  • "BROWN PATCH"- Identified by circular patches which go brown and then dry out.
  • "DOLLAR SPOT"- Small bright brown spots about 50mm in diameter.
  • "RUST and LEAFSPOT"- Purplish spots in the blades of the grass.

Fungal diseases are normally found to occur in lawns that are hungry, where the soil is compacted, where the grass might be growing in the shade (Kikuyu or Fine Quick) and most important of all, if excessive use has been made of high nitrogen fertilisers. These fertilisers promote soft growth which is more prone to rotting disease. Another contributing factor is where lawns have been watered at night which helps fungus to get established and spread quickly. Early morning watering is best (do not water too early on winter days in frost prone regions).
To combat these diseases make sure your grass is regularly fertilised and preferably fertilised with organic fertiliser or a chemical fertiliser that is high in potassium such as 2.3.4. Water as per the instructions above. Finally spray the affected area with either Copper Oxychloride or Permanganate of Potash. Repeat at 10 day intervals for five applications until all traces are eliminated.

Generally speaking, experience shows that it is better to be pro-active in controlling lawn pests and diseases. As an example, if the lawn has already been attacked to an excessive degree by either pests or diseases, then it is better to resort to a quick acting contact pesticide or herbicide, than to use a slower acting systemic one (as the lawn may be completely devastated by the time the substance takes effect). Rather address the problem at an early stage than wait until it is difficult or impossible to contain - the choice is essentially yours, but in the latter case you will probably have to resort to a contact pesticide or herbicide. Currently there are excellent products on the market for combating pests and diseases.

Lawn Caterpillar

These can be a problem in mid-summer. Check for caterpillars in the drying and yellow areas of your lawn by applying a heavy drenching of water mixed with a little soap. If they are there they will soon rise out of the grass. Another method is to place a wet sack on the grass and leave it there overnight. When you lift the sack the next morning the caterpillars will be visible and possibly even a small white conical snail.
To control these pests water the infected area with Dipterex or Karba- Spray or blanket the lawn area with organic tobacco dust.

Mowing Your Lawn

It is not recommended to cut grass short in the summer months in the Western Cape due to the hot, dry and windy conditions which prevail in the area. Rather keep your lawn about 50mm thick (or high). In late March or early April start to cut it shorter so that in winter you have a short firm surface.
Collection and reuse of grass cuttings is favoured by some gardeners but not by others. Grass cuttings can make a good source of mulch or compost if handled in the correct way. One could leave some of the cuttings on the lawn if the lawn area is large to create a mulch which would subsequently become a source of food but do not leave too thick a layer behind on the lawn because this could lead to rotting and subsequently to fungal disease spread. Collect the cuttings if the lawn area is small and place them around the shrubs in your garden so that they form a thin mulch which will later decompose and become a source of nutrients.

Questions and comments


The questions/comments section has been closed as of 1 Sept 2015

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Aug 31 2015, 01:57 PM
Tanya Kriel
I have a very large garden in Hopetown, Northern Cape and used to have it mostly under lawn but since I got two dobermans my lawn has gone to pieces as whereever they run there is nothing but bare ground and it is very ugly. Do you have any ideas/advice please? I like the green in the garden as it is very dry and brown in general here. The area is just to big to put under paving and it will look awfull! Thanks in aedvance!
Aug 31 2015, 08:10 PM
One thing is for sure - dogs (especially big active dogs) and gardens don't go together. You have nice dogs or a nice garden, but almost always not both at the same time! At best, you can put in place measures to control the damage. If you look on the Internet, you'll find some of the actions people have taken with regard to this problem. You would need to consider what you would like to implement. (1) Fencing off part of the garden and focus on keeping that part green. But Dobermans would be able to clear an average size fence so you'd need to make the fence higher than normal (2) Motion sensors which trigger the irrigation system in parts of the garden where you don't want the dogs to be spending time. The problem is that movement of people would also trigger the irrigation system (3) Movable fences which could be relocated from time to time to allow damaged parts of the garden to recover (4) Installation of pathways (paved or "mulched") where the dogs usually walk/run to get from one place to another (5) Creation of green landscaping islands/features where the dogs wouldn't go e.g. rockeries with spiky/thorny succulents e.g. Aloes (6) Use of very robust lawn grass e.g. Kweek for the lawn areas. This would work partly, but there would still be wear and tear in the dogs' pathways (7) Use of low grassy looking ground covers in patches e.g. Ophiopogon Kyoto Dwarf or Dymondia margaretae. I hope that something I've mentioned might work for you. Essentially what I'm saying is : don't have just one large lawn area, section it by using fences of some sort, introduce pathways which can be bricked or mulched to look more natural, and have islands of green which can be robust lawn grass, low ground covers or spiky succulents.
PS As an afterthought, you could ask for assistance from the landscaper we retain in Cape Town. He is a dog lover. If you send him photographs, he would be able to come up with a nice "end result" drawing, plant list and a plan of action which you could then just implement. He would charge a fee, but you would not have to pay with and arm and a leg. If you're interested, either post a Question on our Landscaping section, or send an email with your contact details to General Questions and Responses are being stopped on the eGardens website from tomorrow 1/9/2015 as this service to the gardening community has been provided free of charge for several years but is no longer financially sustainable.
Aug 25 2015, 04:07 PM
Why is my kikuju lawn turning white and the roots thick and die or not grow any further. Heidelberg Gauteng
Aug 26 2015, 03:30 PM
Kikuyu Grass is a very robust grass and in fact very difficult to eradicate if one ever wants to do that. A healthy lawn will be one which receives adequate water and nutrition, provided the underlying soil is of reasonable quality and does not contain toxic substances e.g. lots of cement rubble. There are quite a number of reasons why a lawn on the Highveld might be white at this time of the year (August). You will not yet be into Spring and might have had, or be having frost. This is not the rainfall season so there might be a lack of ground moisture. The lawn might also not be getting the nutrition it needs. The soil might be very hard and/or compact. And so on. So to start with, make sure your lawn is watered at least once, and preferably twice a week, each time equivalent to 25mm of rainfall. Water in the morning only. Spike the whole lawn (mind any irrigation pipes!) to aerate the soil and provide a way for water and fertiliser to penetrate down to the root zone. Feed the lawn with either a refined organic poultry manure such as crumbly Neutrog BladeRunner, or you can use synthetic fertiliser such as Wonder Leaf and Lawn SR (Slow Release) 7:1:3. Then wait for the warmer weather of Spring, which is just around the corner. That should do it.
Aug 24 2015, 01:43 PM
Small townhouse in Alberton with 60% shade,
I am considering Shadeover as Kikuyu does not work. Your recommendation please. Want to lay instant lawn
Aug 24 2015, 05:26 PM
Yes, shade means that one has to carefully select one's type of lawn. For the record Kikuyu Grass is notorious for not doing well in shade. Buffalo Grass will grow in up to 60% shade. LM Berea Grass will tolerate up to 80% shade. The website for the first link below gives information about the characteristics of various types of lawn grass, including your proposed Shadeover Grass. I'm also providing a link to a second website for Ginger Green Grass. This lawn grass is being marketed very actively at present and I've had a number of Questions asking my opinion of it. However, I'm afraid that I never did have actual personal experience with either Shadeover or Ginger Green Grass. So I'd strongly recommend that you contact both Evergreen Turf and Ginger Green and speak to one of their consultants directly. It's possible that both of these lawn grass types are only available in seed form, not as roll-on.
Aug 23 2015, 05:07 PM
I am trying to identify what type of lawn I have. I am wanting to plant seeds in large areas where I have removed alien trees. I live in East London. Would it be possible to send you a picture via an email address.
Aug 23 2015, 06:44 PM
Yes, you can send pictures to and I'll try to ID it. Please take a couple of close ups, which clearly show colour and texture.
Aug 25 2015, 08:49 AM
I have received your pictures. I've struggled to see them in slide-show format, and the one I particularly want to see more close-up I can't seem to get right. I'm going to try to get someone to help me with that. I'm also forwarding the pictures to our retained Cape Town landscaper for his opinion. So far, I'd say it's Buffalo Grass, but the view of the entire lawn looks more like Kikuyu Grass. The soil underneath the grass looks very dry - is that in fact so? The better known lawn grasses such as Kikuyu, Buffalo and LM Berea are usually planted using roll-on or rooted plugs, not seed. There are a few other "seed" options e.g. Ginger Green (see first website below). I'm also giving you a link to a lawn grass website which compares various lawn grasses (but strangely does not mention Buffalo Grass).
Aug 20 2015, 04:13 PM
Hoe kan ek binne n maand n grasperk groei
Help asb
Aug 20 2015, 04:46 PM
Ek sien jy se nie presies waar jy bly nie en gee ook nie die rede vir hierdie nuwe grasperk nie. Is dit iets wat permanent gaan wees? Ek glo dit sal nie moontlik wees om a grasperk wat die gewone grasse bevat so gou te laat groei nie. Maar kyk hieronder vir n "link" na Ginger Green se "website". Dit is n nuwe tiepe grass wat deesdae baie sterk landswyd bemark word. N hele paar mense het my al gevra of ek ondervinding het met Ginger Green. Ongelukkig nie. Maar ek sien daar is heelwat mense wat goeie woorde te se het op die "website" HelloPeter. Dit lyk vir my asof Ginger Green jou antwoord kan wees, maar ek kan nie heltemal seker wees nie.

Hier is nog n moontlikheid - maar dit is nie ware gras nie. Dit lyk net soos ware grass.

Verskoon asseblief my Afrikaans!
Aug 11 2015, 07:15 PM
Martin Connolly
I live in Table View (Cape Town). I am thinking of replacing my lawn, which presently is quick grass, I have large trees all round my garden ( pine, pepper, and eucalyptus so the garden is quite shady, would LM Berea, or Buffalo grass be the correct grass to plant here?
Aug 17 2015, 04:02 PM
Well, completely getting rid of that Quick Grass is going to be a challenge, but you can just try your best! You might find that it continues to emerge in places despite all your efforts. It's generally known that Buffalo Grass will grow in up to 60% shade and LM Berea Grass in up to 80% shade. It sounds to me as though Buffalo Grass would be the lawn grass most suitable for your garden, given the "quite shady" nature there. Buffalo Grass has a bueish green colour, similar to Quick Grass so if the latter grass does show up in places it would blend in more easily. Buffalo Grass has other significant benefits e.g. it requires less water than say Kikuyu Grass, it takes traffic well, it is disease resistant and it requires a minimum of mowing. If you have parts of the garden where there is dense shade, where the Buffalo Grass will struggle, you could plant those areas up with LM Berea Grass. Due to the presence of tree roots you will probably have to feed and water your lawn more regularly than would normally be the case.
Aug 11 2015, 08:32 AM
I have a problem with mole cricket need treatment in Durbanville. Aprox 150sqm
Aug 17 2015, 03:36 PM
Firstly, are you sure that what you have is Mole Crickets? Thinking back to my young days in the Pretoria area, we used to get Mole Crickets in the back garden. They would excavate a burrow, leaving a little heap of sand on the surface. Then in the evening they would reverse out to the entrance and rapidly vibrate their wings to create a whining sound. We'd creep up on them and thrust a spade between them and their burrows, trapping them outside, and catch them that way. To know definitely what you have, you can either spray some of the brown patches and surrounds on your lawn with Karbaspray or water them with a solution of dish washing liquid. Whatever is there should fairly quickly come to the surface and then you can be sure of what you're dealing with. Efekto has a pesticide called Zero Mole Cricket which you can use if in fact you have Mole Crickets. You'd find it a retail nurseries of hardware stores.
Aug 10 2015, 05:12 AM
Hi at what time should you water your grass for the different months of the year in Kensington Johannesburg ?

Aug 17 2015, 03:10 PM
One of the generally accepted rules of garden watering is to do it in the morning, rather than the afternoon or evening. This applies to both garden beds and lawns and is irrespective of the month of the year. You don't ever what to leave excess water on the blades of the grass during the cooler night hours as this will encourage fungi and other diseases. So by watering in the morning you maximise the chance of the sun properly drying out the water on the grass blades by night time. Also, watering particularly towards midday and early afternoon will miximise evaporation from the soil, which is another thing you don't want. The above article (not written by me though) gives good advice about the amount of water a lawn should receive.
Aug 09 2015, 03:30 PM
When should I be dressing my lawn? I live in Johannesburg
Aug 14 2015, 11:25 AM
Lawns on the Highveld are usually scarified and/or top dressed in August/early September, so to do so now (mid August) would be fine.
Aug 05 2015, 11:51 AM
what fertilizer is the best for Westville north area ,
i stay on a mountain edge,ginger green grass any good
Aug 13 2015, 05:19 PM
I assume you are asking about lawn fertilisers specifically? You really have the choice between natural and synthetic fertilisers. There's nothing particularly complicated in choosing. Some turf specialists recommend fertilising lawns four times a year, in January, April, July and October. But essentially it's a good idea to only apply fertiliser at times when the lawn is actively growing. I very often recommend refined organic crumbly poultry manure such as Neutrog BladeRunner. If you want to use a synthetic fertiliser, then try Wonder 7:1:3 SR Leaf and Lawn. I don't have personal experience with Ginger Green, but obviously there is a company marketing it quite actively as I have recently received quite a lot of requests for information. See the link below, and contact them to ask specific questions.
Aug 04 2015, 09:58 AM
I have LM lawn and live in Gauteng. Last week my gardener scarified the lawn on low setting of lawn mower. My lawn looks beautiful already. Is it too soon to LAN and lawn dress? I usually do so around mid August but am itching to keep it looking good and giving it protection.
Aug 13 2015, 12:21 PM
Turf specialists say that LM Berea Grass should never be cut very short. I think that is because it is not a naturally dense lawn grass, and the extra thatch is needed for protection from the sun. But what's done is done! Indeed, lawns are often scarified and lawn dressed in your area in August. I personally would avoid LAN so that there is no risk of burning the lawn. I'd rather recommend that you use a refined organic poultry manure such as Neutrog BladeRunner. Or if you do want to use a synthetic fertiliser, then perhaps try Wonder 7:1:3 SR Leaf and Lawn (it's slow release). And especially lawn grasses like LM Berea Grass and Buffalo Grass, lawn dress them as lightly as possible, and apply multiple dressing over a period of time only if you have to.
Aug 26 2015, 11:08 AM
Thank you for the great advise. Will avoid LAN and give your suggestions a bash. Really appreciate the advise :)
Aug 03 2015, 02:44 PM
Good afternoon!

We moved into our (new) house about a month ago (Centurion, Gauteng). Due to the fact that the house was only built recently, the lawn (10m x 5m) looks horrible. This is probably due to the quality of the soil and all the rocks and rubbish left in the soil. Anyway, the idea was to pick and fork the area to a depth of about 20cm in order to loosen the soil and to remove the rocks and stones left by the builders. I would then mix some fertiliser in the soil and then plant roll-on grass (Kikuyu) next weekend where after I would level it with top soil. Any advice would be appreciated as I presume the soil might not be very 'healthy' at the moment.
Aug 13 2015, 11:50 AM
Firstly, I must apologise for taking so long to Respond. We had a website disaster and a whole bunch of Questions and Responses were lost. So by the time this Response gets to you, you will probably already have done your lawn planting. In principle, though, what you intend doing is correct. I would just add that the fertiliser you use should have a relatively high second figure in the NPK (Nitrogen / Phosphorous / Potassium) formula. The grass sods will need the Phosphorous for healthy rooting. And landscapers often suggest adding as much organic material as possible to the soil e.g. well broken down kraal manure or compost. You can perhaps read the information given by the website for the link below. This will tell you a little more about other aspects such as watering and on-going feeding. Usually when laying lawn sods, one lays them like bricks i.e. each successive row should be offset so that each sod starts halfway along the previous row's sod.
Aug 17 2015, 03:29 PM
Thanks for the response Rod. You're right, I have done the lawn last week. I removed all the rocks, cement and other nonsense below the surface after which I worked in compost. I then added Super Phosphate to the soil and then I wet it too. Laid all the sods afterwards and I can already see the new growth. I give the grass a lot of water at a time though, but only once a day. Thanks for your response anyhow. At least I know I did it right :)
Jul 31 2015, 06:47 AM
Hi, I live on a farm in the Lowveld and have a huge garden. I am trying to achive a meadow look with long unmowed grass. What variety can I plant that grows high enough for this look?
Aug 13 2015, 11:09 AM
This Question is actually outside my field of practical knowledge. I see that Wikipedia defines a "meadow" as a grassland with grasses and other non-woody plants. See the link below. The latter can include rushes and sedges. You had best visit a retail nursery to view the varieties of Carex and Acorus, which in my view would look best as natural grass. Or you can Google the latter. If you want some patches of upright plants, consider Juncus varieties. And if, as a base, you require a lawn grass, I'd suggest LM Berea Grass which grows so well in your area. It can be left to grow long. It is fluffy and green, and not invasive like Kikuyu Grass. Buffalo Grass would I think be too low growing and coarse for a meadow look. Sorry about the long delay in responding - caused by website problems.
Jul 27 2015, 11:23 PM
Have you heard of GingerGreen lawn seed?
What is your take on this product and recommendations?
Much appreciated.
Aug 11 2015, 10:43 AM
So sorry about the long delay in responding - website problems! Yes, I have heard of Ginger Green lawn seed. I don't recall this type of lawn grass being around when my career in the wholesale nursery business came to an end around 2008. But it seems to be marketed quite actively at the moment, and I've had several Questions posted about it. It certainly looks interesting but I cannot comment further as I don't have personal experience with it. But I'm giving you a link below to a website. I'd suggest that you contact them directly and give them a good grilling!
Jul 24 2015, 12:54 PM
Good day
I'm looking for specialist who will be able to plant lawn for me. Are your services only landscaping?
If you are able to help me how much is your costs per square metre?
Aug 07 2015, 03:47 PM
Sorry to take so very long in getting back to you - a large chunk of eGardens Questions/Responses was inadvertently lost. Our landscaper in Cape Town unfortunately does not do lawn planting. You do not mention whereabouts you live. If you live in the Cape Town area you could try Cape Contours. If you are located in the Gauteng area try Evergreen Turf. See below links for contact information for both of these companies. Otherwise just ask at your closest large retail nursery - they should be able to give you a name of a reputable lawn grass supplier. You could also just Google for lawn suppliers in your area. Please find out directly from whichever company you find what their cost per square meter, planted, is.
Jul 24 2015, 09:08 AM
Sue Collins
Hello, there. I have a kikuyu lawn which must be 40 years old. In the last couple of years, in winter, I have more bare patches than before.
Should I give this lawn some special treatment?
I live in Kensington, Johannesburg
Jul 24 2015, 11:37 AM
Yes, lawns are not at their best on the Highveld during Winter anyway. Too cold and dry, with periodic frost. So don't expect the lawn to grow actively before the onset of Spring, or from September onward. I'd consider giving it a feed of Neutrog BladeRunner, which is a refined organic crumbly form of poultry manure. I'd fork the whole area over with a hollow tine, or large tine fork, wiggling it around a little to create slightly larger holes. That way you aerate the soil and assist any subsequent water or fertiliser to penetrate down to the root zone. You can, if you prefer, use a synthetic fertiliser such as Wonder 7:1:3 SR Leaf and Lawn. This is slow release but do water the lawn well after applying it. No problem if you wish to replant the really bare patches, but do wait until Spring before doing this. Kikuyu Grass is a very robust lawn grass. I believe it will respond well to a little extra TLC. Just be patient and wait for warmer weather, then keep it well fed and watered. PS Be careful of those buried irrigation pipes when you fork the lawn over!
Jan 23 2015, 12:23 PM
Hi Guys, I stay in the Jhb area. First week of December 2014 we planted 100 squares of instant lawn (Kikuyu). I have basically killed it by putting a 50/50 mixture of lawn dressing and cow manure under the grass and a layer ontop. It has now been 7 weeks and there are small patches trying to survive. Is there anything I can do to try save what we have and maybe get it to spread? Dont know which fertiliser to put on or if it is even a good idea?
Jan 23 2015, 03:06 PM
What should work in your favour is that Kikuyu Grass is VERY difficult to get rid of, even if you want to do that! There was nothing wrong in principle with putting down lawn dressing and cow manure before laying the roll-on lawn. One should anyway prepare the soil by putting down organic material (and preferably also superphosphate to encourage root growth). I assume it was fairly well broken down cow manure? - never use it in raw, moist form. December was not the best time to top dress though. This is usually done around August in Gauteng. You don't mention how thick a top dressing you used. Remember that it should never cover the grass completely as that prevents the leaves from performing photosynthesis which is essential to grass health. Also I might say that seven weeks is about average for roll-on lawn to settle down and establish some sort of root system. So don't be too concerned - it's too early to condemn the lawn. If you still see substantial lawn dressing on the top surface then try to water it down to the root zone with a hosepipe. Also, unless you are having good rains, try to water your lawn in the mornings, twice a week, deeply, each time equivalent to about 25mm of rainfall. It is usually recommended that lawns be fed four times a year : in January, April, July and October. So you could if you wish sprinkle some refined pelletised crumbly poultry manure such as Neutrog Bladerunner on it now. I honestly believe your Kikuyu Grass will recover, given the above special attention.
Jan 22 2015, 07:41 AM
Good day,

I planted LM grass in December 2014 (shady area) and now there is some brown spots everywhere. Is this the grass busy dying or something else? Please give advice as to what I can do.

Pretoria east

Thank you so much!
Jan 22 2015, 01:52 PM
You don't mention whether you put down roll-on LM Berea Grass, or planted plugs. If roll-on, it can take 6-8 weeks to settle down and you might observe either slight yellowing or some brownish patches. You should make sure that you are watering your newly planted grass twice weekly, deeply, giving it the equivalent of 25mm of rainfall each time. And water in the morning, not afternoon. I presume you went through all the proper soil preparation i.e. added compost and superphosphate before planting/laying? It could be that there is competition from tree roots in those shaded areas, in which case you'd need to boost the feeding by sprinkling a crumbly form of pelletised poultry manure Neutrog Bladerunner. There is also an outside chance that the grass may be suffering from some sort of fungal disease (though this is not commonly seen with Buffalo Grass or LM Berea Grass). You can then either spray with a lawn fungicide, or you can sprinkle some flour onto those brown spots. That attracts a special type of fungus (not detrimental to your lawn) which feeds off both the flour and the bad fungus. You might want to treat one of the patches this way to see if it improves. As an afterthought, do you have dogs? Dog urine can also cause brown patches.
Jan 22 2015, 05:04 PM
Thank you so much Rod. We will try all the above mentioned. Yes I do have dogs - is there something I can do about the urine?

Thank you.
Jan 20 2015, 04:33 PM
I have little heaps of chewed up earth in my lawn. Last year they appeared and shortly thereafter large areas of the lawn died. I am worried this is going to happen again. What are the heaps of sand and are they going to kill my lawn? How can I stop this?
Jan 21 2015, 02:02 PM
You will need to take a closer look at those heaps, to try to see what the creatures producing them might be. I'd hazard a guess, that it might be termites, ants or crickets, in that order. Lawn caterpillars are prevalent at this time of the year, and cause patches of lawn to die off, but they feed off the roots and don't produce heaps. See if you can see any movement, or holes where the heaps are. Ants usually dig out soil in order to create underground nests. Termites will mostly carry chewed off plant material such as grass down into their nests. You can perhaps try pouring some quite concentrated dish washing liquid onto the heaps or down any holes which you see, to cause any creatures responsible to surface. If you have Karbadust, Karbaspray or Karbasol, or any ant poison you can follow the same procedure. Once you know what you're dealing with, then use a pesticide which targets that specific creature.
Jan 21 2015, 05:17 PM
Thank you Rod, we will follow your advice
Jan 22 2015, 02:53 PM
Hi Rod,
We poured on dishwashing liquid and water this morning - so far nothing visible except ants...? So I should treat it as though it is ants. We certainly have a bad ant infestation in the house
Jan 15 2015, 09:23 PM
Hi guys

I have a court yard, wall all 4 sides so it does get sun all most the whole day and gets reflections of the walls the size is about 10 X 5 meters what grass do recommend I plant there? I am located in nelspruit .

Jan 16 2015, 12:30 PM
In the conditions you describe, you could plant any of the common lawn grasses which are Kikuyu Grass, Buffalo Grass or LM Berea Grass. Each type has its disadvantages. To mention some : Kikuyu Grass is a water-holic and invasive if not constantly watched, Buffalo Grass is a fairly slow grower and LM Berea Grass does not take traffic too well, seldom making a thick mat. If I were you, I'd plant Buffalo Grass. It has significant advantages over the other lawn grasses e.g. water-wise once established, takes traffic very well, less prone to diseases, requires cutting less frequently. You might want to consider a variety of Buffalo Grass new on the market, Buffalo Sapphire. Don't know if it's freely available around Nelspruit yet. It's slightly greener and with finer leaf blades than normal Buffalo Grass, so looks more like Kikuyu Grass apparently. Do go the extra mile and prepare the soil very well plus maintain soil moisture. Finally, while I understand some people want instant (roll-on) lawn, I'd recommend planting plugs. That way you ultimately get a firmer and more level lawn.
Jan 13 2015, 06:11 AM
Hi Rod,
We are renovating our home in Johannesburg and are looking to plant a new lawn. My boys are avid soccer and cricket fans and would like me to use a grass that is not too thick or spongy underfoot when they play in the garden..what would you recommend? Regards
Jan 13 2015, 08:31 AM
Subsequent to your Question, you sent us an email requesting general garden advice, in addition to lawn choice, so I will forward your details to our landscaper in the Northern Suburbs of Johannesburg. Personally, my lawn recommendation for you would be what we call Bayview Grass down here in the Western Cape. It's botanical name is Cynodon dactylon. It's typically used for hockey fields, cricket pitches and bowling greens. Kikuyu Grass, though able to take traffic, will tend to have a mat and be spongy, and it is a water-holic lawn grass. Buffalo Grass gives a firmer mat and takes traffic well, is a water-wise choice, but has quite broad leaf blades, which might not be that suitable for playing cricket on. But it is a possibility. LM Berea Grass is primarily for shade and would not take traffic well. So, my first choice would be Bayview Grass (also known as Kweek) and Buffalo Grass would be my other choice. But see what our landscaper suggests. Below is a link to the website of a Cape Town supplier of Bayview and Buffalo Grass. I think it's going to be vital for you to prepare the lawn surface VERY well i.e. rubble removal, composting, superphosphate, leveling and then water well until established.
Jan 10 2015, 01:03 PM
hi Rod
Lawn is in full sun, Constantia, Western Cape,
I have a few patches in my kikuyu lawn - about 20cm to 30cm wide where the grass has died completely - no apparent reason. The only think I have noticed that is different to previous summers is that there are quite a few white moths around - not too sure if the 2 are related - looking forward to your reply
Jan 11 2015, 06:25 PM
Well, it's a fact that lawn caterpillars attack lawns here in Cape Town, during January and February. Especially Kikuyu Grass is the target, not so much the other lawn grasses. You can find out if lawn caterpillars are the cause of your problem by taking any of three actions. (1) Make quite a strong solution of dish washing liquid and saturate one of the patches with it. See if any greenish worms surface within say 15 minutes (2) Leave a rubber mat or wet towel out overnight on one of the patches and see if you find worms underneath it in the morning (3) Get hold of one of the "Karba" products (Karbasol or Karbaspray or Karbadust) and apply it to one of the patches. You'll quickly see that the lawn caterpillars come to the surface and wriggle around in their death throws. If your lawn definitely has lawn caterpillar, then you'll need to give your whole lawn a good saturating watering with "Karba" solution. You'll probably need to do this more than once. There's an outside chance that your lawn has a fungus of sorts, in which case please scroll down from here and see my Response to a Question from Hannes which describes a plan of action.
Jan 09 2015, 08:45 PM
Hi Rod. I have a buffalo lawn. I planted it late last summer and it became well estalished over the last year. Lately large dead patches developed. The rest of the lawn looks very good though, so it cant be a watering issue. The spots first appears to be wilted and then dies completely. Some spots have recovered, which is why i left it up to now, but currently it is spreading at a rapid rate. I am thinking it must be a fungal disease, but the spots aren't round so not sure about dollar spot etc. There is also no sign of worms or insects under the lawn. Advice would be very much appreciated. Thank you.
Jan 11 2015, 05:57 PM
We are of course right in the middle of what has been a very hot and windy Summer in the Western Cape, if that is where you live. As the article suggests, you should probably spray with a copper based fungicide (copper oxychloride as an active ingredient) and/or with potassium permanganate (Condes Chrystals). Another trick is, if it is indeed a fungus attacking your lawn, to throw down some baking flour on those dead patches. Apparently there is another fungus (not detrimental to your lawn) which will be attracted to the flour, and it also feeds on the damaging fungus. Do try some or all of the above, and see what happens...
Jan 12 2015, 08:57 PM
Hi Rod. Thank you for your response. I will definitely try your suggestions.
Jan 09 2015, 11:08 AM
Danie Pretorius
Hi there. I've just bought a house with established Kikuyu. Problem is that some of the yard gets a lot of shade, especially during winter, causing bare spots. Should I plant LM in these spots? Also, the soil is of very poor quality (very sandy). Should I top-dress with loamy soil? Kuils River. Many thanks!
Jan 09 2015, 11:54 AM
Yes, Kikuyu Grass definitely struggles in shade. You'd have to estimate how much shade there is in the shaded areas. Buffalo Grass can grow in up to 60% shade and LM Berea in 80% shade. Since you already have Kikuyu Grass (a fairly fine leafed and green lawn grass), you'd probably be better off planting LM Berea Grass in the bare spots as it too is fairly fine leafed and green in colour, and "fluffy". These two lawn grasses would look better when mixed, and you'd be sure that what you are planting in the shaded areas wold work for you. I am generally in favour of Buffalo Grass in preference to both Kikuyu Grass and LM Berea Grass. But in your case the LM Berea Grass would probably serve you better. Buffalo Grass has significant advantages which you can read about in our Library article on Buffalo Grass. For interest sake, there is now on the market (certainly in the Western Cape), a new variety of Buffalo Grass called Buffalo Sapphire. It has finer leaves that normal Buffalo Grass, and is more green in colour (normal Buffalo Grass is blueish/green). So it matches better than normal Buffalo Grass would with Kikuyu Grass. Sandy soil does not necessarily imply that the soil in not nutritious, just that it perhaps lacks organic content, and resultant water absorption and retention properties. I'd recommend that you throw down some refined crumbly poultry manure called Neutrog Bladerunner, which will give your lawn a quick and worthwhile feed. You can top dress with either loamy soil or good quality finely sieved compost to start introducing a better quality soil and organic material into the existing soil. But top dressing is normally done in August, not now in the heat of Summer. So I'd focus on getting a suitable new lawn grass into those bare areas (first preparing the soil very well) and feeding with Neutrog Bladerunner. Then I'd top dress round about August. And remember that especially down here in the Western Cape, and particularly with Kikuyu Grass, your lawn should be watered twice a week, deeply, making sure that each time it gets the equivalent of about 25mm of rainfall. Check to make sure the moisture is penetrating down 10-15cms. And preferably do your watering in the morning.
Jan 09 2015, 01:01 PM
Danie Pretorius
Many thanks indeed for your speedy reply. Much appreciated!
Jan 08 2015, 08:12 AM
Hi Rod, is it possible to over fertilise my lawn with chicken manure pellets? Will it damage the lawn? Thanks.
Jan 08 2015, 09:10 AM
Unless you go completely overboard when throwing it down, I don't think you can over fertilise with chicken manure pellets. The synthetic fertilisers, such as LAN, are made to be easily water-soluble. So unless there is plenty of water or rain after you apply them, the resulting solution is too concentrated, which burns your lawn. Chicken manure pellets break down and dissolve very slowly, so you don't ever get a concentrated solution. Of course, you should not sprinkle them so thickly that they in any way form a mat. Your lawn should look like a herd of Impala walked over it, leaving their droppings! I would probably sprinkle say 2-3 handfuls (handsful?)over each m2. Do use the granular crumbly form of poultry manure Neutrog Bladerunner (more suitable for lawns), rather than pelletised Neutrog Bounceback (suitable for shrubs, flowers and vegetables). I had a look at the packaging of these two products and the "ingredients" (formulations) are the same.
Jan 06 2015, 01:07 PM
Hi there, I'm in Durban and have LM Berea grass. I've battled for ages to get it to cover nicely. It has patches of good areas and bad areas. I was advised to use chicken manure fertiliser which I did and it helped. Then today someone suggested some lime as well. How can I get my LM Berea to cover completely. I'm cutting my grass about every 2 weeks on a medium height setting. Thanks.
Jan 07 2015, 10:25 AM
As I finally get to address your Question, I see that I have spoken a little about the use of lime in my Response to another person - scroll down from here to see my comments (the person who had inadvertently used Roundup). You can apparently purchase soil test kits at retail nurseries if you wish to get a fix on the acidity of your soil. I was also told that you can use a swimming pool water pH test kit. So perhaps you might like to try that. Just put some of your soil into a glass jar with some water, give it a good shake, let it stand for a while and then test some of the solution as you would test your swimming pool water. You'll soon see if your soil is very acidic, in which case it would make sense to apply some agricultural lime to make other soil nutrients more available to the lawn grass. I've also heard recently about someone actually using Nutrisol on his lawn - this would supply any missing trace elements such as magnesium and iron, which might be missing. Regarding LM Berea Grass specifically, it is very commonly used in your area. I've seen photos of what it can potentially look like as a lawn. My experience with LM Berea Grass down here in Cape Town though is that it is a slow grower, does not readily develop a thick mat, and needs a lot of TLC (regular watering and feeding) to look good. But In your sub-tropical part of the world, it SHOULD do well. Depending of course on your soil conditions and availability of water. I'd say you should keep feeding it monthly with crumbly Neutrog Bladerunner, keep watering twice weekly, deeply, each time equivalent to 25mm of rainfall and don't mow it too short, especially during your hot Summer.
Jan 07 2015, 11:30 AM
Thanks so much Rod.
Jan 06 2015, 07:28 AM
Hi. last year I had a BIG weed problem in my lawn. After trying several solutions, I applied Roundup to all the bad patches and after digging up and fertilizing I laid down instant lawn (Buffalo). It looked great, but latterly all the instant lawn areas have become patchy and lush growth at all. The existing grass (various types) are growing fine.I live in White River and we have had pretty good rains. Many thanks.
Jan 07 2015, 08:56 AM
Oh dear! Are you sure it was Roundup that you used? If so, it was completely the wrong herbicide to use on a lawn area. It's really meant for killing weeds in places like driveways, paths etc. And it will kill anything else onto which it is sprayed, or drifts, or leaches. Our Cape Town landscaper tells me that it has the same ingredient(s?) as Agent Orange, which was used by the Americans to defoliate the jungles in Vietnam. Appalling stuff, very toxic and apparently very long-lasting. So we as gardeners should really rather use organic eco-friendly herbicides. One such "recipe" is mentioned in various places on the eGardens website. That said, let's look at what could be the cause of your problem. If you only sprayed with Roundup in certain areas and have only put down instant lawn on those same areas, then it could well be that the residual Roundup is damaging the new lawn. Short of replacing the soil (a radical solution if you are not sure) your best bet would be to keep watering very well in the hopes of leaching the Roundup out of the soil. I'd definitely give the new lawn plenty of crumbly Neutrog Bladerunner refined poultry manure which normally works very quickly and produces good results. Yellowing (chlorosis) can sometimes also be the result of soils which are too acidic, resulting in inhibited uptake of essential nutrients. One normally sprinkles some agricultural lime to combat the acidity and make the soil more balanced. But lawn grass is said to grow best when soil pH is SLIGHTLY acidic between say 5.5 and 6.5 (a pH of about 7 being neutral, and above that alkaline). Also worth noting is that Buffalo Grass is not as fast in establishing as say Kikuyu Grass. My landscaper friend advises not to touch it for about 6-8 weeks after laying i.e. no traffic, mowing, animals etc. So it does take quite some time to properly set down roots. You did well to prepare the area properly and your good rains would have worked in your favour. I'd be patient for a while longer as it's perhaps too soon to tell what the end result will be...
Jan 07 2015, 08:56 AM
Oh dear! Are you sure it was Roundup that you used? If so, it was completely the wrong herbicide to use on a lawn area. It's really meant for killing weeds in places like driveways, paths etc. And it will kill anything else onto which it is sprayed, or drifts, or leaches. Our Cape Town landscaper tells me that it has the same ingredient(s?) as Agent Orange, which was used by the Americans to defoliate the jungles in Vietnam. Appalling stuff, very toxic and apparently very long-lasting. So we as gardeners should really rather use organic eco-friendly herbicides. One such "recipe" is mentioned in various places on the eGardens website. That said, let's look at what could be the cause of your problem. If you only sprayed with Roundup in certain areas and have only put down instant lawn on those same areas, then it could well be that the residual Roundup is damaging the new lawn. Short of replacing the soil (a radical solution if you are not sure) your best bet would be to keep watering very well in the hopes of leaching the Roundup out of the soil. I'd definitely give the new lawn plenty of crumbly Neutrog Bladerunner refined poultry manure which normally works very quickly and produces good results. Yellowing (chlorosis) can sometimes also be the result of soils which are too acidic, resulting in inhibited uptake of essential nutrients. One normally sprinkles some agricultural lime to combat the acidity and make the soil more balanced. But lawn grass is said to grow best when soil pH is SLIGHTLY acidic between say 5.5 and 6.5 (a pH of about 7 being neutral, and above that alkaline). Also worth noting is that Buffalo Grass is not as fast in establishing as say Kikuyu Grass. My landscaper friend advises not to touch it for about 6-8 weeks after laying i.e. no traffic, mowing, animals etc. So it does take quite some time to properly set down roots. You did well to prepare the area properly and your good rains would have worked in your favour. I'd be patient for a while longer as it's perhaps too soon to tell what the end result will be...
Jan 08 2015, 05:48 AM
Many thanks Rod. Will be more circumspect with Roundup in future!
Jan 05 2015, 03:36 PM
I live in the Gauteng and I was away for 3 weeks on holiday and didn't cut the grass. Now it has a lot of veins instead of grass leaves. What can I do to change this?
Jan 06 2015, 10:03 AM
You don't mention what type of lawn grass you have. Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "veins". I assume you are referring to the runners from which the leaf blades usually shoot. I have seen on the news that Gauteng has had a LOT of rain recently, and if that was the case in your area, the moisture should have worked in your favour. If lawn grass has been allowed to grow very long, and is then suddenly cut quite short, it's common for it to have a yellow-brown tinge. That's most likely caused by parts of the grass, previously shaded by the long leaf blades and therefore not able to perform photosynthesis, suddenly exposed to hot Summer sun. Unless your lawn was seriously damaged by lack of water, I'm confident it will revive by watering twice a week, deeply, each time equivalent to 25mm of rainfall, in the mornings. Plus you can feed it granular refined poultry manure such as Neutrog Bladerunner, which produces good quick results. Remember to NEVER cut your lawn very short in Summer - the roots need protection from the hot Summer sun. And incidentely it is recommended to give lawns a good feed four times a year in January / April / Jul / October.
Jan 04 2015, 09:02 PM
Good day,
What type of grass would you suggest for the Western Cape. We are considdering Elm, Buffelo, and Kikuyu. We have a significang amount of open space in the area, and as there is a constant battle to rid the lawn of weeds blown from these areas.
Jan 06 2015, 09:43 AM
If the lawn area is predominantly sunny, with no more than 60% shade in any areas, then my recommendation is Buffalo Grass. It has significant advantages over Kikuyu Grass, among them : requiring less watering once established, being more disease resistant, requiring less frequent mowing and not as invasive. I have an ongoing humorous difference of opinion with our Cape Town landscaper about what is the best lawn grass to plant - he is fan of Kikuyu Grass - but he refuses to allow me to send him for counselling! You mention a weed problem. I'm afraid there is no alternative but to keep combating them, and not let them get out of control. Natural methods are always best as the chemical herbicides are not at all good for the environment. So remove the biggest weeds by hand if you can, and spray judiciously with a natural herbicide only when necessary (it's mentioned elsewhere on the website but beware that it needs to be applied onto the weeds only, since it will also kill lawn grass, but it remains effective for only about two hours). Oh, and I should mention that a new variety of Buffalo Grass, Buffalo Sapphire came onto the market recently. It is apparently slightly more green in colour, and has finer leaf blades. Perhaps worth investigating, if you insist on the same look as Kikuyu Grass...
Jan 06 2015, 02:00 PM
Thanx. Perhaps inbox me with what info you need for a quote...finer buffalo or buffalo. (If you supply durbanville area
Jan 04 2015, 10:35 AM
Hi Rod. I live in the Western Cape and got Kikuyu grass 4 weeks ago. I have sandy soil. I water the Kikuyu everyday. It became lush and green. I fertilized it with chicken manure pellets and once a week a spray trelmix. My question: When must is stop watering the grass everyday? I have a very small lawn (+- 60m2) so watering it is easy and cheap. I read that one must water it twice a week but I am afraid it will turn yellow because of the heat and wind and the fact that I have sandy soil. Please assist me. Thank you very much! Jacques
Jan 04 2015, 05:57 PM
I understand that sometimes people have good reason to put down roll-on lawn at this time of the year (January). But this time of the year is NOT the best to choose - although the Kikuyu Grass should be growing actively, the excessive heat and strong drying-out wind adversely affect the lawn grass. It's vital that you water in such a way that the moisture penetrates down say 10-15cm. This usually means watering equivalent to about 25mm of rainfall each time. So, try putting out some of those empty flattish tuna tins and see how long they take to fill to the 25mm mark. You can sometimes check by pushing a strong sharp stick into the soil, and it should slide in easily for as far as the soil is wet, then experience some resistance. Once the moisture has penetrated that far down, it should not be necessary to water more than twice per week in this manner. Do water in the mornings, not evenings if you possibly can. If you look around your neighbourhood you will see that many lawns have a yellowish tinge at this time of the year in the Western Cape - that is natural. And yes, refined poultry manure does produce good results. I usually recommend Neutrog Bladerunner which is a granular (rather than pelletised) form and better for use on lawns. I've never heard of Trelmix being used on lawns, but I guess you can do that if you want to. It is usually used to supply especially trace elements or micro-nutrients (rather than nitrogen / phosphorous / potassium) to plants or shrubs in containers.
Dec 17 2014, 08:35 PM
Hi Rod. I have a sandy ground surface which I filled up with compost and "kraal mis" about 20cm. I have planted kikuyu and have kept it well watered for about three days. However, I started to notice some yellow sections. These are not large areas, and when I lift up a section of the grass I can see new white roots in the grass facing downswards. The section where these yellow sections occur are mostly is direct sun from 10am to 6 pm. I have kept this are well watered, but can I water to much? or is this normal? Thank you very much. Lukas
Dec 19 2014, 11:06 AM
A couple of days is way too soon to expect your new Kikuyu lawn to have settled in. My good landscaper friend always says it needs 6-8 weeks of no traffic or cutting, plus good watering to establish its roots. It is very common for Kikuyu Grass to exhibit some yellowing immediately after planting. It's got to do with things like root shock, soil being loosened from around the roots during transit, plus the roots will not yet have grown into your prepared surface. I honestly can't fault your surface preparation. The general rule for watering lawns is to do it no more than twice weekly and each time the lawn must receive water equivalent to 25mm of rainfall. Also, do your watering in the morning. You can spread some of those empty flat tuna tins around the lawn area and then time how long it takes for them to fill to about the 25mm mark. You might also want to sprinkle some Neutrog BladeRunner (crumbly form of Bounceback) to encourage the Kikuyu Grass to green up and grow. Those roots you see are almost surely just new Kikuyu Grass roots looking for more soil and nutrition. And do be careful not to over-water as that can cause waterlogging, anaerobic conditions and subsequent rotting and yellowing.
Dec 17 2014, 04:13 PM
what fertilizer can i use to speed up the growth process of L M grass that has been planted in strips?
Dec 19 2014, 10:51 AM
Since LM Berea Grass is a softish lawn grass (not quite as robust as Kikuyu Grass or Buffalo Grass), I'd recommend that you use organic refined pelletised poultry manure e.g. Neutrog BladeRunner. It is crumbly and more suitable for lawns than Neutrog Bounceback. And there is little chance of you burning your lawn, as might be the case with say synthetic LAN if you don't water well after application. You can just sprinkle some BladeRunner on the lawn every month or so. Remember the general rules for watering : twice a week, deeply, each session equivalent to say 25mm of rainfall, and do it in the morning. That should do the trick!
Dec 19 2014, 10:51 AM
Since LM Berea Grass is a softish lawn grass (not quite as robust as Kikuyu Grass or Buffalo Grass), I'd recommend that you use organic refined pelletised poultry manure e.g. Neutrog BladeRunner. It is crumbly and more suitable for lawns than Neutrog Bounceback. And there is little chance of you burning your lawn, as might be the case with say synthetic LAN if you don't water well after application. You can just sprinkle some BladeRunner on the lawn every month or so. Remember the general rules for watering : twice a week, deeply, each session equivalent to say 25mm of rainfall, and do it in the morning. That should do the trick!
Dec 15 2014, 01:03 PM
Tjaart Kruger
I cut my kikuyu lawn too short resulting in roots visible and yellow strips. what is fastest remedy? Urgent reply please. Swellendam, W.P.
Dec 16 2014, 03:58 PM
I imagine it can get pretty hot around Swellendam at this time of the year. But you guys do at least seem to have had some rain recently. Common sense says to me that you need to somehow cover up those exposed roots, to protect them from more sun. So I'd suggest that you try to work in something like a good quality lawn dressing or finely sieved compost. But NEVER completely cover the Kikuyu Grass as it might rot if the sun can't get to the leaf blades for photosynthesis to happen. Rather do it in several applications. The other things that you can do would be to feed the whole lawn with pelletised poultry manure e.g Neutrog BladeRunner, and water twice a week, deeply, each time equivalent to 25mm of rainfall, in the mornings. Fortunately for you, Kikuyu Grass is a very vigorous lawn grass and you'd have great difficulty in ever trying to get rid of it even if you wanted to!
Dec 14 2014, 04:18 PM
We have an established lawn in Pretoria, but replaced some parts with kikuyu runners They are growing well We also applied lawn dressing to the whole area I am finding that they are growing upwards How can I get the new shoots to grow sideways to form a mat?
Dec 15 2014, 04:59 PM
You have done the correct thing in applying some lawn dressing but remember never to completely cover the lawn surface with top soil as this can result in you lawn grass rotting when it is unable to perform photosynthesis with the help of the sun. It's not uncommon for runners to stick up for a while after planting, unless you go to the trouble of actually ensuring that they are laying flat before you cover them partially. In your situation what I'd do is try to cut off (with either a weed-eater or mower set at the highest setting) those parts really sticking up high. That would induce the growth to take place further down, and in sideways directions. But be ultra careful that the cutting process does not pull the roots of the runners out of the ground. Fortunately Kikuyu Grass is a very robust lawn grass.
Dec 12 2014, 05:49 PM
Good day
We live in brackenfell with a lawn comprising of buffalo and kukuju grass. We would like to know to make the grass dark green.
Someone told me to use 411 nlawn. Will this work or is there another production must use? Also what is the difference between watering the grass in the evening and in the morning?

Please respond to

Kind Regards
Dec 15 2014, 12:29 PM
If you fertilise with the synthetic fertiliser 4.1.1, it's probably commonly known as LAN (Lime Ammonium Nitrate) and you will be supplying your lawn with mainly Nitrogen. Remember the formula N:P:K (Nitrogen - Phosphorus - Potassium). The three macronutrients can also be remembered by what their feeding purpose is : Leaves/Roots/Flowers or Fruit. The 4.1.1 will green up your lawn but with high Nitrogen fertilisers one has to be careful about not burning the lawn – you must water very well after applying the fertilser. The other fertiliser, probably safer to use, is a refined pelletised poultry manure such as Neutrog BladeRunner. It is organic rather than synthetic. It does have a slight odor for a few days, but breaks down slowly and feeds the grass evenly over a period of time. You should definitely only water your lawn in the morning, preferably early morning. This should be done twice weekly and deeply, each time equivalent to 25mm of rainfall. If you water at midday you are using water inefficiently because much of it will simply evaporate. And if you water in the late afternoon or evening there is insufficient sunlight to evaporate the excess water off the leaf blades, which can result in lawn diseases which favour damp and cool night time conditions.
Nov 28 2014, 05:11 PM
I live in Somerset West and my Kikuyu lawn now has large patches of Wonder lawn growing in it. I tried spraying the entire lawn but now have bare patches where the Kikuyu hasn't recovered and the Wonder lawn is starting to appear again. Should I just let the Wonder lawn take over instead or is there an alternative solution to this problem? I look forward to your response. Kind regards, Daphne
Dec 01 2014, 01:06 PM
Please could you go to the eGardens Library section and select the article Your Lawn Grass Weed Removal Guide. Then scroll down to the Question from Shirli Carswell who also had unwanted Wonderlawn. See my Response to her. In essence, the only practical way to get rid of Wonderlawn is to spray with a broad-leaf herbicide. One has to adhere to a pre-spraying procedure and also spray at least a second time to be sure that the Wonderlawn is no longer present. All these weed herbicides do knock the lawn grass back, so it's not surprising that your Kikuyu Grass has been affected. Did you adhere strictly to dilution rates specified in the herbicide package insert? Fortunately Kikuyu Grass is real tough and in fact can be very invasive and difficult to get rid of - which is an advantage to you as it is likely to recover. Personally I'd live with the Wonderlawn. Although some people see it as a weed (one of its common names is Kidney Weed), others actually plant it as a lawn, or between paving stones, or as a ground cover. So, you can either spray a second time and try to properly get rid of the Wonderlawn, or just let it gradually spread back. It grows best in well drained, nutritious, slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil, in sun or semi-shade and likes to be watered deeply but infrequently. Kikuyu Grass is not a good lawn grass for shade, so perhaps Wonderlawn could serve its purpose for you in those areas (if you have them).
Dec 02 2014, 02:53 PM
Thank you for your informative reply. I think I will just go with the Wonder Lawn as it will be beneficial in the shaded area that dies back every year, without fail.
Nov 26 2014, 05:28 PM
I help with my Lawn it has lots of weeds and its not even as well, what can I do?
Dec 01 2014, 09:26 AM
Please could you go to the eGardens Library section and find the article Your Lawn Weed Removal Guide. If you scroll down within that article you will find my recent Response to Thelma who also had a severe lawn weed problem. I recommend an approach to her. You also mention that your lawn is uneven. There are really only two things (apart from leveling the area and replanting) which one can do to rectify an uneven lawn. The first is to roll the area with a heavy roller, but that is usually impractical for most people. The other way is to gradually fill in the indentations with a mixture of washed river sand and finely sieved compost. The lawn grass should NEVER be completely covered by the lawn dressing. It would be at risk of rotting if it was unable to perform photosynthesis efficiently. Rather keep dressing the lawn lightly, weekly, over a period of say 6-8 weeks, watering the dressing in each time. You'd gradually fill in those depressions and encourage the lawn grass to spread into those places too.
Nov 24 2014, 12:04 AM
Jason Preuss
Hi,my new kikua lawn planted from seed is 4 weeks old and about 40 to 60 mm high, should I give it a light mow and fertilize it to promote growth or should I leave it for a bit longer, thanks Jason.
Nov 25 2014, 12:21 PM
I have a very good friend, an experienced landscaper who always tells his clients who have planted lawns to leave the lawn area completely alone for at least 6-8 weeks. That means : no traffic or mowing. Only watering. Especially now that it's Summer, the roots of the Kikuyu need protection from the hot sun, so one would normally mow at a higher setting once the lawn is established. And if the soil was prepared properly prior to sowing the seed, there should not be a need for additional fertiliser. Lawns generally should be fed four times a year : January, April, July and October. So I'd say just wait a little longer before fertilising, say towards the end of December, or beginning of January. But do keep watering, twice weekly, deeply, equivalent to 25mm rainfall each time, in the mornings. That should do the trick!
Nov 20 2014, 09:01 AM
Hi, I would like to know what is the white thin things growing in between grass (it almost looks like optic fibre that is a little longer than the grass). Thanks
Nov 20 2014, 03:48 PM
Help! I haven't a clue what you might be referring to! Is it possible for you to take some close-up digital pictures of those "white thin things" and send them to me at Don't recall ever seeing something like this, but your pictures might jog my memory....
Nov 18 2014, 06:03 PM
Mixing instructions for turfweeder APM. Pamphlet not included
Nov 19 2014, 11:45 AM
Below is a link with mixing instructions for Efekto's Turfweeder APM. I got it off Efekto's website. Note that Turfweeder APM contains active ingredients 2-4D and dicamba, which are not suitable for spraying on either Buffalo Grass or LM Berea Grass. Ok for Kikuyu Grass though.
Nov 17 2014, 10:18 AM
Algy Jacobs
Hi Guys
I just bought a townhouse in Kuilsriver, Cape Town, and wish to start a lawn in my back yard; the area is about 4mx5m. The soil composition is quite sandy, and I have no idea where to start! I want to have a soft grass, and have been advised that Buffalo grass is quite good for this, and that I can still sow it now. Is this correct or should I consider alternate variants? Please help!
Nov 18 2014, 09:27 AM
Buffalo Grass is definitely my lawn grass of choice. But it is not considered soft. There is now a new variety on the market called Buffalo Sapphire. This is a greener and finer variety (Buffalo is a grey/green lawn grass). Buffalo seed I have been told is not available locally so people resort to either instant roll-on lawn or to plugs, The latter is sold in polystyrene trays of 200X plugs, and a tray covers 8-12m2 depending on planting density. The roll-on lawn can initially be very "spongy" and so I personally prefer to plant the plugs to give a firmer and more level lawn surface, unless one wants an instant lawn. The soil needs to be prepared well, irrespective of whether you use roll-on or plugs : plenty of compost and some superphosphate. Followed of course by regular watering. Your other choice of lawn grass would be the very common Kikuyu Grass, but it is a water-holic though quite robust lawn grass. Buffalo Grass requires less water once established and less mowing, but takes traffic better. It's also more disease resistant. Your other choice for a soft lawn grass would be LM Berea Grass, but I would not recommend that based on your situation as you describe it.
Nov 10 2014, 05:59 PM
Piet Lundie
Hi Guys, I live in Roodepoort, my kikuyu grass has yellow spots (more like stripes) in between the green foliage, I think it gets enough sun during the day although there are some trees in the area On one side of the grass are heaps of mud coming thru the grass There are also little mushrooms popping up on some areas Three weeks ago we fertilize the grass with 7:1:3(15) Thank you that we can feel free to ask you guys all these questions
Nov 13 2014, 08:58 AM
I assume you are saying that the spots are on the leaf blades of the grass, and not spots or stripes in certain areas of the lawn? From your wording, I get the feeling that the lawn area has too much water. For example, mushrooms usually grow in damp areas. And those heaps of mud (unless you have mole activity) could be from the activity of earthworms, which also thrive in wet soil. Is your house in a naturally wet area with plenty of underground water e.g. close to a stream, vlei, or low lying? Are you perhaps over-watering your lawn? Or watering late in the afternoon or evening when there is too little sun to evaporate the moisture before nighttime? Cool nighttime temperatures together with moisture on the lawn provides ideal conditions for disease to attack your lawn. This could be one of the reasons why your Kikuyu Grass has leaf spot (if that is what it is). Another possible reason is that you may have over-fertilised the lawn, and specifically given it too much water-soluble nitrogen, which would have resulted in overly soft and too rapid growth of leaf blades, making them susceptible to disease. That 7 in the 7:1:3 fertiliser is the nitrogen proportion, so the fertiliser you used is quite nitrogen rich. Always best to go for a slow release fertiliser (usually indicated by a SR on the bag label) - but maybe you did use the Wonder 7:1:3 SR brand anyway. You could consider spraying with copper oxychloride or potassium permangenate as described in this article. Otherwise do what you can to reduce the excessive moisture by only watering at most twice a week quite deeply. Summer conditions should help you dry your lawn area out a bit anyway. And it is said that to combat leaf spot one should raise the mowing height (which would also give the roots of your Kikuyu Grass a little extra protection from the sun in Summer).
Nov 08 2014, 07:59 PM
Nico De Bruyn
Hi guys what is kersney grass? I have been told that this is the type of grass I have . My lawn area is completely under shade. With the on going draught I can not water so some type of broad leaf weed has practically wiped all of my lawn. The weed also died off ,but now with the bit of rain we got the weed seeds are now flourishing, Will BANWEED kill this lot off?.
Nov 12 2014, 09:42 AM
Kersney Grass (Axonopus compressus) also commonly known as Carpet Grass, is natural to the tropical Americas and in some places is considered invasive. It is quite commonly found in KZN. It is a shade tolerant grass and often used under trees or on embankments to stabilise sandy soil. The first link below gives you some pictures of Kearsney Grass as well as some of its characteristics. Regarding your lawn weed problem, what typically happens is that when the lawn is in very poor condition, or dies, a sward of open soil is created and this immediately becomes a site for weed encroachment. The soil dying is most often due to lack of moisture and/or soil nutrition. Yes, you will have to kill off the weeds and you can safely use Banweed MCPA - it can be used on Buffalo Grass, which is also a broad leaf lawn grass. The second link below provides some guidance on how to apply Banweed MCPA. After ensuring that all weeds have been killed off, you might want to replant the area with new Kearsney Grass plugs. You could also consider LM Berea Grass which tolerates up to 80% shade and is not as invasive as Kearsney Grass.
Nov 07 2014, 09:39 AM
(Continue) Yes I used ammonium sulphate twice since planting the berea but that was just because my soil PH was 7 and I wants to bring it down. The above you can buy at Agricol and just sow it like normal fertilizer. I stay in Brackenfell - sandy soil.
Nov 10 2014, 09:18 AM
Once again, thanks for sharing. I think Emil was unsure about where to buy a Mix Nozzle, but he may have been enquiring about the Lime Ammonium Sulphate, so your Response could possibly help him there...
Nov 07 2014, 09:31 AM
I have planted plugs and roll on Berea grass the beginning of September. My grass is beautifull, cut it every week.
The plugs are a bit slow but it did well and this morning I gave it a top dressing. I also do not believe that Berea cannot be given topdressing as I gave my roll on grass topdressing just after I laid it to get the surface
Nov 10 2014, 09:15 AM
Thanks for sharing your experience. Always good to hear what works and what doesn't!
Nov 03 2014, 08:53 AM
Emil Milenov
Dear Sirs,
Your advise for fixing neglected lawn is to "
Spray Ammonium Sulphate or Limestone Ammonium Sulphate on lawn areas that have been neglected using a Mix Nozzle "
What could be the commercial name of those substances and where one could buy them?
Nov 10 2014, 08:58 AM
The article mentioning the "Mix Nozzle" was written by someone else and I have not personally used one in the specific form described. But I did have a similar piece of specialised equipment for feeding of plants on a large scale when I was still running my wholesale nursery. So I suspect that the principle would be that the Lime Ammonium Sulphate would be placed in a small container attached to the spray nozzle, and the water would pass over the fertiliser, dissolving it gradually as water is being sprayed onto the lawn and thereby feeding the lawn. I imagine that any large retail nursery would either carry these Mix Nozzles, or know where to source one for you. Otherwise you could try at the nearest Agri Co-op, Makro or Builders Warehouse. Hope this helps a bit...
Nov 01 2014, 10:15 PM
Should one fertilize LM grass I was advised against doing do by the team that installed the grass. My problem is that it seems to have settled but is yellow in certain areas.
Nov 06 2014, 04:20 PM
For better or for worse, I am on record as not being a great fan of roll-on lawn. I do understand that there is sometimes a need for an instant lawn mat, but I receive many reports of problems people experience soon after having roll-on lawn put down. There could be quite a number of reasons why newly laid lawn turns yellow. One of these is that substantial soil might have dropped away from the root zone during transport or laying. Or the subsoil is poor or toxic in certain areas where your lawn was laid. I have a very experienced landscaper friend who recons a new lawn takes at least 2 months to settle in, and should be left completely alone during that time : no mowing, no traffic, just watering. LM Berea is a slow growing surface spreading lawn grass. I am not aware that one should not feed it. All lawn grasses benefit from judicious feeding. I have heard that LM Berea Grass should not be top dressed, but my own view is that this can be done, but in several light applications, never substantially covering the lawn. To be safe and avoid the possibility of burning your lawn, you could sprinkle some pelletised poultry manue e.g. Neutrog BladeRunner or SeaMungus on the lawn, if you don't mind a slight odor for a couple of days. Otherwise you would have to use one of the balanced fertilisers e.g. 5:1:5 or 3:1:5, but water very well afterwards.
Dec 02 2014, 09:21 AM
I had about 100 sq. m of Kikuyu which frustrated me to such an extent that I dug it all up and replaced it with roll on sections of LM. Parts of the lawn are on a very steep slope which I elected not to peg and so left it alone for about a month. I then fertilised it with LAN and top dressed it. I have since change to regular fertilizing with BladeRunner. I cut it once a week with a Flymo on the highest setting and it gets watered regularly.
Passersby stop and admire this lawn commenting that it looks artificial because it is so uniform in colour and texture.
Best lawn ever.
Dec 02 2014, 09:47 AM
Absolutely fabulous to get such great feedback! I receive SO many Questions from people with SUCH a variety of lawn problems, that It's like a breath of fresh air to hear the occasional success story. I do hope that people take the trouble to page down within this article to see what can be achieved, and to encourage them not to give up hope. It would be interesting to know in which part of the country you live, because I have had some reports about LM Berea Grass not doing well in dry parts, and particularly where Winter is cold and frosty. Thanks for taking the time to share your story!
Dec 02 2014, 03:50 PM
Sorry Rod, should have mentioned that we're in Wilderness, WC
Oct 31 2014, 12:13 PM
Hi Rod,

I'm based down in Nelspruit, I have instant lawn whjch is about 6 months old, but it just doesnt want to stay green. It has a very thick bed, or mat(I cut it on about 70-80mm) but it keeps on having dead or brown grass pushing through. If I cut it shorter than that it looks like the lawn is dead. Any suggestions please, as I'm at the point of giving up. Oh,I water it 3times a week, in addition to rain, and it gets about 80% full sun. Also it LM grass. Thank you.
Nov 04 2014, 12:03 PM
I've never been a fan of roll-on lawn of any type, as I've seen many cases of resultant spongy lawn mats. So. I always recommend planting plugs, which give a firmer smoother surface. But sometimes one requires an instant lawn, I know. It's impossible to say with certainty what your LM Berea lawn is suffering from based on information provided and without on site inspection. So I'll comment generally. LM Berea Grass is a surface-spreading lawn grass which has roots close to the surface and can have surface runners up to 8m long with roots every 4-5cms or so! Which explains its shade tolerance - those parts in the sun do the photosynthesis on behalf of the parts in the shade! Now, often roll-on lawn suppliers lay down sods from which the soil has separated from the roots during lifting or transport. This would be a problem particularly for LM Berea with its shallow root system. A further problem might be the underlying soil - was it properly prepared e.g. loosened, composted, superphosphated prior to laying the sods? Is the soil underlying all areas of your lawn the same? e.g. rocky? place where concrete was mixed? Your watering regime seems ok, provided you water deeply when you do water (each time equivalent to 25mm of rainfall), and do it in the morning. If you water late afternoon or evening, moisture remains on the leaf blades, and particularly in Nelspruit's warm humid conditions, lawn disease would be promoted. Your cutting regime seems fine too - leave it a little long especially in summer, to protect the roots from hot sun. What bothers me a bit is the sponginess. It is said that one should never top dress LM Berea Grass. But I suspect that one can do it, provided one does it several times over a period of weeks, very lightly, never completely covering the grass blades themselves, and one waters the top dressing in well afterwards. Some people use just plain washed river sand as a top dressing to firm up spongy lawns. But in your situation, you might need good quality nutritious soil as a dressing. You might also want to sprinkle some organic pelletised poultry manure e.g. Neutrog BladeRunner to provide extra food for the lawn (if you can stand the slight odor for a few days). Finally it is possible that your lawn has a fungal disease of sorts. So you could spray with one of the lawn fungicides if the problem persists. Or you can try an old boere recipe which is to sprinkle mealy meal over the brown patches. Apparently, that will attract a fungus (not detrimental to the lawn itself), which also eats the fungus causing your lawn problems. I haven't tested this personally, but I understand that it works and I've recently recommended this procedure to other people with similar "brown patch" lawn problems.
Oct 28 2014, 10:36 AM
I live in Durbanville, and struggles with my lawn. The duwweltjie took over my grass, the big leave weed (with a yellow flower). And the grass is not thick. I have kikuyu grass. The weeds are dying and is making brown spots on the grass. What do I need to do to get rid of the weeds, to make my grass thick and lush.
Oct 28 2014, 03:49 PM
Kikuyu Grass is a very vigorous growing lawn grass, but in addition to feeding four times a year (January, April, July, October) it requires regular watering twice a week, deeply, and equivalent to 25mm of rainfall. Watering is very important down here in the Western Cape in Summer, as this is not our rainfall season. Seasonal conditions are exactly the opposite of say Gauteng. Please scroll down from here and read my Response to Jameela who wanted to boost her lawn - I gave her a procedure to follow. You MUST get your lawn more healthy before tackling the weeds - otherwise any herbicide you use will have a much more potent effect on the Kikuyu Grass (a little yellowing is normal). When you do spray you can use a broad leaf weed herbicide such as Efekto's Banweed MCPA or Turfweeder APM. Both target the Common Dubbeltjie (Tribulus terrestris) as well as a number of other lawn weeds. You may also choose to use an organic herbicide BUT it KILLS any plant including weeds, lawn and surrounding plants/ shrubs onto which the spray drifts, so I'll tell you more about the recipe IF this is the route you wish to take. You can hand weed where possible if you have time, or the area is small enough - that all helps. Once most of the weeds are gone, and your lawn is growing healthily your whole lawn situation will be much easier to manage via regular watering, feeding and weed/disease control. Please see the following two links to be sure that the Common Dubbeltjie is in fact the weed you have, and also for information about Efekto's weed herbicides.
Oct 28 2014, 05:00 PM
Thanks Rod, what type of fertilizer will you recommend for the kikuyu grass?
Oct 28 2014, 06:25 PM
Louise,the only sure cure for "duiwelkie" is to sit on a cushion,with your glasses on and weed, putting all the duiwelkies into a bucket,it takes hours but is the only way,unfortunately this is already too late in the year, as it is much easier when the ground is wet,and the weeds small. Good luck!
Oct 28 2014, 08:15 PM
Thanks for your input here! Always nice to have a network of gardeners willing to share their suggestions for the benefit of all. Yes, I always gently suggest hand weeding where possible. I'm becoming a bit wary of all the herbicide use. Although the Dubbeltjies may have set their seed, pulling them out will reduce the number of small plants in their next cycle, plus result in less thorns to stand on. And of course just sitting on a bucket weeding is very good therapy, and a way of avoiding all those other awful chores!
Oct 28 2014, 08:49 PM
Glad you say gently,unfortunately time is of an essence today, so sitting and doing weeding is a task so many can afford! But with dubbeltjes,there is no other way, or its "eina'!
Oct 28 2014, 09:37 AM
We are in Harfield Village, and have a lot of rainfall over here. What this means is that sand / soil tends to move away in winter in the heavy rains. Anyways, we planted quite a lot of Berea plugs in early April, and they survived winter and have started to spread quite nicely now in the spring...

But - with the heavy rains, a lot of the sand has moved away. What should I do to try and "put" it back? What strategy would you recommend? I don't want to cover the grass to much and cause it to go backwards.

Thank you in advance
Oct 28 2014, 03:21 PM
Most people say that one should not top dress LM Berea Grass, as one would do with say Kikuyu Grass. You can perhaps scroll down from here to read my Response to Jeremy, telling him a little about how LM Berea Grass grows (it has surface runners). But quite frankly, I think you could safely top dress your lawn area safely IF you adhere to the following : (1) Use a good quality top soil with finely sieved compost mixed in (2) Focus on the deepest indentations and fill them first (3) Apply several LIGHT top dressings over a period of weeks (4) You can sprinkle one of the pelletised poultry manures e.g. Neutrog BladeRunner over the lawn area, if you can tolerate the slight odor for a couple of days (5) NEVER completely cover the LM Berea Grass with the top dressing (6) Water lightly after each application of top dressing to settle the soil down, away from the leaf blades (7) BEFORE starting the above procedure, if any of the exposed remaining soil is hard you could loosen it up slightly with a smallish fork - but try not to disturb the runners or roots. For me the jury's out on LM Berea as I have struggled to get this type of lawn to grow healthily at my daughter's house in Diep River - I suspect that down this part of the world LM Berea Grass needs lots of TLC i.e. regular watering, feeding and good soil in which to grow. But it certainly has its useful applications.
Oct 27 2014, 09:39 AM
I am in Milnerton,Cape Town. I have planted several trays of Berea grass,after preparing the soil with compost and bone meal.All the plugs have taken, and are now about 150mm high,with occasional longitudinal shoots between the plugs showing. I read that about 30% should be trimmed off the tops,which I did,and carefully raked up the trimmings.The plugs were planted on 1st September,in a cool area,with some sun during the day,and watered well. Have i done correctly so far?
Oct 27 2014, 03:34 PM
Your planting and care thus far has been done by the book. LM Berea Grass is a loose-knitted lawn grass and therefore does not form a dense thick mat as do some other lawn grasses. Furthermore, it spreads via surface runners which I understand can be up to 8m long! Little roots are formed about every 4-5cms along these runners, and the roots are directly under the leaf blades, not at all deep. Those parts of the runners growing in more sunlight are able to sustain the rest of the runner through photosynthesis. All the above characteristics lead to the recommendation that LM Berea should never be cut very short as there would be too little protection from the sun for the roots, and also to maximise leaf blade surface, especially in the more shady areas. I have also seen figures of about 30% or one third as the maximum amount to be removed during mowing. The longitudinal shoots are a good sign. Be careful about raking though - you could easily pull out the newly rooted runners. Maybe it's better to leave the trimmings, which would also act as a mulch of sorts, provided you keep feeding the lawn (the breaking down of the green trimmings could result in nitrogen depletion). But so far so good. Well done!
Oct 21 2014, 02:10 PM
Good day, I have a problem with termites on my lawn that has severely damaged my lawn, please can u recommend an insect killer that will eliminate the termites but still safe to use with small dogs being around the household, also what product can I use to boost the lawn and get the grass to grow, again keeping pet safety in mind...
Oct 27 2014, 04:09 PM
I have not had personal encounters with termites, only ants. To get rid of these I simply poured ant poison diluted according to the package insert directly down their burrows. Termite eradication companies generally do not divulge the content of their pesticides. But I see from a little Internet research that sodium borate (better known as borax) is non-toxic to humans and animals and effective for termite control. I don't know the dilution rate so you would have to experiment during spraying. People also say that orange oil and neem oil (from the Neem tree) have the same effect on termites. But orange oil is used as an ingredient in an organic weed herbicide which I sometimes recommend, so I don't know if it would kill your lawn as well as the termites. I most often recommend pelletised poultry manure such as Neutrog BladeRunner for boosting lawns, but your dogs might eat this, plus it has an odor for a few days. So rather use a balanced synthetic fertiliser such as 5:1:5 (preferably) or 3:1:5. Make a liquid solution as directed on the bag which you buy. Normally, in a dry form you would sprinkle about 60gms (a closed hand full) onto each 1m2 of lawn area. If you can estimate your lawn area you can work out roughly how much fertiliser to use. In liquid form it would not be a danger to your small dogs. But you might find it a challenge to get it to dissolve fully in the water. Perhaps leave it to stand overnight?
Oct 19 2014, 05:42 PM
Hi there, I planted kikuyu about 3 months ago. It was green & healthy looking. I water the lawn every morning, but somehow its lost its greenness and it is thinning out. There is lots of brown patches. I used a fertilizer and made sure it got a lot of water. This has not helped. To me it seems as if the grass is dying. Please help
Oct 22 2014, 06:19 PM
Not sure where in the country you live. Please scroll down from here and look at the Response I gave to a Question from Amanda. She seems to have the same problem with her lawn as you do. Frankly there is a multitude of possible causes e.g. fungus or rust, too little water, lack of nutrients, underlying soil quality, insufficient soil around the roots, fertiliser burn, extremely hot and windy conditions, dog wee etc. But have a look at my Response to Amanda first and see if you recognise anything relevant there. In principle you seem to be doing all the right things i.e. watering mornings (twice a week deeply?) and fertilising (balanced e.g. 3:1:5 or 3:1:3 four times yearly January, April, July, October?). Please also see my Response below to a Question From Sheila Moolman for more information on the latter.
Oct 19 2014, 11:17 AM
Good day. I have referred to this page for your advice frequently when replacing my lawn end Aug this year, and found it very helpful. Thank you. I live in Rustenburg N.W. My lawn came on wonderfully, but brown spots have rapidly developed during this last week, and mainly in the full-sun area. It do not want to waste time before treating it. Is there something specific you can recommend? I have read osite that they recommend the use of 'corn meal'. What do you think of this, ever heard of it? recommend
Oct 20 2014, 04:26 PM
You don't mention what type of lawn grass you have but I assume it's Kikuyu Grass as that is the one most common in South Africa. You should carefully examine the leaf blades and see if there is any sign of rust spots. More likely though is that the lawn has a fungus of sorts, something like "brown patch" or "fading out". Either way you can spray with a fungicide containing copper oxychloride, such as Effekto's Bravo 720. Fungus thrives in warm humid conditions, so ensure that you water your lawn in the early morning, leaving enough time for the sun to evaporate excess moisture before nightfall. But really, only about 6 weeks is very short a time for your lawn to settle down after laying. If it was roll-on lawn, then quite often the suppliers lay lawn down pieces of lawn from which the soil has been allowed to fall away from the roots during transit. But brown patches can also result from insufficient watering - this should be done twice weekly and deeply, rather than every day and shallowly. If the watering has been insufficient then one would expect the most sunny patches to become dry first, which could cause your brown patches. Yes, I had heard of mealy meal being used as a fungicide, many years ago. But funnily enough, it was mentioned to me about a week ago again, by a landscaping friend! Apparently the way it works is that if you sprinkle mealy meal, then a fungus appears on the mealy meal which predates upon the other fungus, the one which attacks your lawn grass! So do try it, if you wish - it will cost you very little and be environment friendly. If it doesn't seem to work quickly, then immediately switch to something like Bravo 720. And do read the package insert carefully.
Oct 20 2014, 05:23 PM
I heard that Potasium Permanagate helps solve fungus. 1 teaspoon mixed to 1 liter of water and then sprayed onto lawn. Can you please let me know if this will help and fix my lawn?
Oct 22 2014, 09:01 AM
As I type this Response to your Question I see that it might be you who has submitted a further Question under this article - same name appears, Lloyd. Yes, Potassium Permangenate (commonly known as Condy's Chrystals) is said to work as a fungicide on lawns. It also controls moss on lawns. The dosage I know of is 1 teaspoon of KMnO4 (Condy's Chrystals) in 5 litres of water to cover 20m2 of lawn surface. Spray once monthly in March, April and May, then again in September and October. Please read the link below for more lawn information. I will address what your lawn problem could possibly be in your newly submitted Question.
Oct 23 2014, 05:57 AM
Thank you Rod. I bought and applied the Bravo 720. As I laid the sod myself after removing the old lawn, I did not want to experiment with the mealie meal ( although I was tempted to try the more evironmental-friendly way). I did not want to take that risk. I think I might have applied too much fertilizer hence the dead spots, and yes, some rust also. I will closely monitor and let you know once I am sure that I have won this battle.
Oct 16 2014, 08:25 AM
I recently moved into a house in Durbanville, Cape Town with a large lawn. The grass is predominantly Kikuyu but there are patches of very fast growing dark green grass with thin leaves which is a concern because it seems to be spreading around the lawn. I have tried to remove it but it has very strong, deep roots and one has to take out entire areas of the lawn to get it out. Some of the roots are red in colour. Please tell me what kind of grass it is, whether it will continue spreading as it gets hotter and how I can get rid of it.
Oct 16 2014, 11:34 AM
I can't be sure based on your description, but it sounds awfully like Kaapse Kweek, or Cape Quick, Cynodon dactylon. I'm giving you a link below to see if the pictures do in fact look like your problem grass. If it is Kweek, then it is quite often mixed with Kikuyu Grass on sports fields. But it's a blighter to get rid of - almost impossible. Whatever herbicide you spray would target the Kikuyu Grass too - both have thin leaf blades. Even removal by cultivation is often only partially successful as the roots can go as deep at 70-80cms. I would not recommend any herbicide until I positively identify the grass. It might help if you could somehow send me close-up digital pictures of both leaf blades and roots - my email address is
Oct 15 2014, 09:20 PM
Basil Mamacos
Please can you tell us a little about Berea/Kikuyu mix. We have been told that this is the best for an area that has summer sun but very shady in winter months. the original kikuyu died completely in winter. My personal choice would have been Buffalo grass. Your advise will be much appreciated.
Oct 16 2014, 11:08 AM
I'm wondering if you are my good friend from Synergy Pharmacy - if so you will remember the Rooke family and recognise the old gent's face on the eGardens home page! I'd then be very pleased to come and have an on-site look - if you're the one who has done so much for ME in the past. But anyway, here are some comments on your situation. Indeed, Kikuyu Grass prefers full sun and does not do at all well in the shade. I read recently on a website that Buffalo Grass will grow in up to 60% shade and LM Berea in up to 80% shade. Of course how this is measured is another question. Is it average area lit up by direct sun during the day? Or measured in lumen units (as you would do to see how much light a globe supplies in a room)? I'm frankly not a huge Kikuyu Grass fan, as it is a water-holic lawn grass and very invasive. I feel Buffalo is a better choice since it also takes traffic well, and does not require as much watering once established. Less prone to disease too and shade tolerant. People tend to mix Kikuyu and LM Berea Grasses since they are both the same in colour - green - and have fine leaf blades, while Buffalo is blue/green with fairly broad leaf blades. For me the jury's out on LM Berea Grass down here in Cape Town. My personal experience is that it is not a very vigorous grower and does not easily develop a nice thick and fluffy mat. But I have seen one or two places where it was looking fabulous in quite deep shade under trees! So maybe the answer lies in keeping it very well fed and watered. And you may not have any other choice in your very shady lawn areas. Phew! Hope this helps you a bit!
Oct 19 2014, 04:28 PM
Basil Mamacos
Hi Rod. Yes I am still at Synergy. Thank you for your reply but must admit I am still unsure how to proceed. It really is a tough decision as some "experts" have strongly advised the Berea and Kikuyu mix whilst another company has strongly advised the Buffalo. Although the area to be covered is only +- 24sqm it is a costly business and I really need to make the correct decision. Thank you Basil
Oct 19 2014, 04:54 PM
Was given your cellphone number my my wife yesterday. As I picked up your Response a few minutes ago, I was about to call you and see when I could arrange a visit! Not sure what your current working hours are. Expect a call...
Oct 21 2014, 08:30 PM
Enjoyed my on-site visit to your new house - thanks! I will speak to our eGardens landscaper tomorrow about arranging a consultation with you directly. After my visit I had some thoughts : (1) You should get another opinion (and a quote) from our landscaper (2) He is quite pro Kikuyu Grass so you might be recommended this rather than Buffalo Grass (3) Your recent garden adviser might have suggested Kikuyu Grass because roll-on Buffalo Grass might not currently be available (4) You might have to lay down Kikuyu Grass or a look-alike in order to keep to the common property theme (6) There is now on the market a new type of Buffalo Grass called Buffalo Sapphire - it is greener and more fluffy than conventional Buffalo Grass which is blue/green, so it looks more like Kikuyu Grass (7) Buffalo Sapphire might only be available in plug form, not roll-on (8) Plugs ultimately give a firmer more level mat than does roll-on, but you might have to wait 6-9 months for complete coverage (9) I think Heliotrope (Cherry Pie) would work very well in that East facing bed out of which you need to move your Clivias. Use both H. Royal Marine and H. Florence Nightingale. They are very pretty, not too tall and have a delightful vanilla smell! (10) But definitely get another opinion from the landscaper. He would also be able to advise you on improving the drainage of your lawn area. I'm sure we'll talk again soon...
Oct 11 2014, 09:19 AM
fanie groenewald
Will turf weeder kill my grass the grass tipe is lm grass Stilbaai western kape
Oct 11 2014, 01:46 PM
Turfweeder APM has an active ingredient dicamba which should not be used on either LM Berea or Buffalo Grass. Any other herbicide for broad-leaf lawn weeds which does not have this active ingredient can be used e.g. Banweed MCPA.
Oct 01 2014, 10:56 AM
Sheila Moolman
What is the best fertiliser to use on a rugby field, we are based in the Tokai area in Cape Town
Oct 02 2014, 05:25 PM
I don't have experience with rugby fields as such, so I did some research. I assume your rugby field is Kikuyu Grass. If so, you have a water-holic grass, but you should nevertheless neither under nor over water it. It will be growing actively from Spring to Autumn down here in the Cape, though it remains green in Winter, so this is the time when your rugby field will benefit most from extra nutrition. Here is what a knowledgeable turf manager recommends : Feed it four times per year, in January, April, July and October. Use a slow release fertiliser, so that nutrients become available evenly over a period of time. A balanced fertiliser such as 5:1:5 (preferably) or 3:1:5 should be used. The relatively high first figure, nitrogen, is the macro nutrient which most greens up turf. The application rate is 50gm per m2 (equivalent to a man's handful). I guess a rugby field is about half a hectare i.e. 100m X 50m = 5 000m2. So you will need 250kg of fertiliser. Probably your best bet would be to visit the Agri Co-op in Phillipi where fertiliser is sold in 50kg bags, most cheaply. Hope this information helps you.
Sep 30 2014, 05:02 PM
I have recently had LM grass put in. About 6 days back. It was instant kawn but now it seems there are some dead patches in between. Will this recover in time?
Oct 02 2014, 04:35 PM
I always pass on, to clients who have had roll-on lawn put down, the advice of a landscaper friend of mine : the lawn should be left alone (other than watering) for 6-8 weeks i.e. no traffic and no mowing. Also bear in mind that the roots of the lawn grass will have been shaved off in order to create the rolls, so the grass will be in at least some state of shock. And some of the soil may have been shaken off the roots, resulting in more stress. Plus the subsoil would have had to be properly prepared. In short though, it's too early to expect your lawn to have stabilised. I'd recommend that you simply continue watering it, twice a week, deeply, in the early morning. And then be patient - I'm sure it will recover in time. Remember too that LM Berea is not the most vigorous growing lawn grass!
Sep 24 2014, 01:15 PM
I have a kearsny grass type. Some areas dies out in winter(bare patches,although I stay in a sonny warm area. Watering and fertilising does not seam to help.The problem is mostly in shady areas. Is kearsny not a shade grass?
Sep 25 2014, 09:46 AM
You do not mention where in the country you live. I do not have personal experience with Kearsney Grass, but understand from a landscaping friend who lived in Durban, that it is quite common in parts of KZN, often to stabilise sandy soil. He said that it would grow in full shade and poor soil with low nutrient content, underneath trees. Please read through the following three links which make reference to Kearsney Grass. It is apparent that it needs constant moisture, and that it is one of the few grasses which will thrive in full shade. Little is said about fertilising or typical lawn diseases. Just that one should generally use synthetic fertilisers (not compost) so as to minimise the risk of introducing fungal diseases. One of the websites indicates that Kearsney Grass is frost-tolerant, but Keith Kirsten mentions that it is frost-tender in coastal areas so the jury is out on that one. I wondered if there was some characteristic which distinguishes the dying out patches from other parts of the lawn e.g. toxic soil where cement was mixed, more tree roots, less moisture etc.
Sep 12 2014, 12:01 PM
Hi. I've just moved to the coast near Richards Bay and my garden has virtually no grass. The soil is basically like very fine sea sand. Where the grass is growing it is very sparse. Half of the garden is completely covered in dappled shade all day. When the wind blows the pool gets full of leaves as I have left the leaves to cover the bare earth. If I rake the leaves away there is just too much dust. What grass and ground cover can I plant on a tight budget?
Sep 15 2014, 05:32 PM
Not sure if you're the same person (also from Richards Bay) who was asking me to recommend a grass for shade and to stabilise soil? Well, I'm going to recommend Kearsney Grass which grows in shade and poor sandy soils. You would probably need to give it as much encouragement as possible when planting - plenty of compost and superphosphate, followed by regular watering until it covers over.
Sep 11 2014, 08:03 AM
Hi there Egarden team,

We have recently scarified our lawn and top soiled it and started watering it every evening (17h00). It has started to come on however i noticed in some places the grass as discoloured, almost has white tips. Any idea what this may be? I live in the high veld.
Sep 11 2014, 12:45 PM
Scarifying is quite a harsh process for the lawn. It's roots become exposed, and most of its leaf blades which are responsible for photosynthesis are cut off or severely cut back. Sometimes mower blades are also not as sharp as they should be, resulting in tearing of the leaf blades, rather than clean cuts. Also, your lawn has probably not yet had time to completely "come back" after the scarifying. I would give it a little time, and perhaps start to feed it, maybe with pelletised poultry manure e.g. Neutrog BladeRunner. This feed would only be utilised by the lawn, and green it up, once the weather is warm enough to cause the grass to grow actively. And watering lawns late afternoon/evening is a no-no. The sun is unable to evaporate water on the leaf blades, and this together with nighttime coolness is an ideal environment for disease to develop.
Sep 08 2014, 05:14 PM
R Bothma
We live on a farm Wesselsbron district, Free State -I have to establish a large garden-schrubs and trees (quite a lot ) has been planted but is still small-the lawn is next-our summers are hot and sometimes dry, winters are cold with a lot of frost, the soil is very clayey and initially there will be little shade-water is readily available -what grass do I plant:kukuyu or bermuda?-quite a large area must be planted.
Sep 10 2014, 09:23 AM
Kikuyu is undoubtedly the most common lawn grass in South Africa. This, despite the fact that it has been declared an invasive grass in some parts of the world. I seldom recommend planting Kikuyu, though I have a landscaping friend who is VERY much in favour of Kikuyu! He promotes it on the basis of its robustness and quick growth. The fact that water is readily available to you is an advantage if you plant Kikuyu - it is definitely a water-holic. In your area and on the Highveld generally, lawns turn yellow during Winter dormancy due to the cold and frost, but revive again when Summer and its rains return. Prior to planting do incorporate plenty of well-rotted compost or kraal manure in the soil to loosen up the clay. Throw down some superphosphate too to assist the lawn to establish healthy and strong roots. I would definitely not plant any lawn grass like LM Berea in your area, but I would consider Buffalo Grass - if you can afford it for such a large area, and if you can source it locally. And finally, you will need to watch that the Kikuyu does not penetrate into the flower beds - everyone who has Kikuyu lawn would be all too aware of this challenge!
Sep 10 2014, 04:15 PM
R Bothma
Rod-Thank you for your response -you do not deal with bermuda- if you advise against ?bermuda, for what reason?
Our climate is really harsh and I would hate to replant
If I am to plant kikuyu , would you recommend seed or runners
Sep 11 2014, 08:47 AM
Sorry, yes I did forget to comment on the Bermuda. There are apparently quite a number of varieties of Cynodon dactylon worldwide, but the South African one is commonly known as Kweek. Funnily enough, I occasionally get Questions from desperate clients whose other lawn grass is being overrun by Kweek! So it is a hardy but invasive grass. It is deep rooted though it also spreads on the surface by putting down roots from its nodes. It self seeds although the South African variety apparently does not set as much viable seed as other varieties. You can expect it to turn yellow-brown in Winter, much the same as Kikuyu. It is a warm season grass but will revive in the Summer. It does not require as much water as Kikuyu, but it will benefit from some feeding. It's mat is much firmer than Kikuyu, and it is often used on cricket and hockey outfields. It can be developed into a lovely smooth green surface. It is probably much easier to mow than Kikuyu. Since you have such a large area to plant up, I'd probably recommend that you sow seed. I'm giving you a link below, to a website where you will find instructions about how to prepare the surface and post-seeding activities. If keeping birds away from the new seed is an issue you might have to plant plugs (preferable) or runners (alternatively). To summarise my choice : (1) preferably Kweek (2) alternatively Kikuyu (3) not LM Berea. Your cheapest option would be seed, not roll-on, and you can probably buy seed at your local Agri.
Sep 08 2014, 01:16 PM
We are situated in Johannesburg and needing to lay grass in a shady area. We rent the property out and so I feel very strongly that we should lay turf rather than seed or rooted plugs, which needs more care not necessarily given by a tenant. What grass would you recommend?
Sep 10 2014, 09:04 AM
Yes, it would probably be unfair on the tenant to have to look after the newly planted lawn as well as wait for 6 to 9 months for it to cover completely. It really depends on how big the area is, though. But be aware that roll-on lawn, though "instant" does give a spongy lawn, and sometimes an uneven one. Using plugs or runners results in a more even and firm lawn. Kikuyu does not do well in shade. Buffalo Grass will grow in semi-shade i.e. where there is some light penetration. LM Berea is acknowledged as being the best local lawn grass for shaded areas. I've seen the most lovely fluffy green LM Berea lawn in shade under a tree down here in Cape Town. Where you live, you might experience a problem in actually finding roll-on Buffalo Grass to buy, and more so roll-on LM Berea Grass. You have a far better chance of finding these lawn grasses in plug form - trays of 200 plugs, each tray covering 8-12 m2. All the above said, if I were you I'd (1) go out of my way to thoroughly prepare the area to be planted e.g. compost, superphosphate (2) double or even trebble-up on planting density of LM Berea plugs to speed up the coverage time (3) ensure that the planted area is always kept moist and (4) absolutely minimise the traffic there until the lawn is fairly well established. Do explain the situation to your tenants, that you are trying to give them the best and most comfortable environment. They will hopefully reflect back to you what you are trying to do for them. If you have a rental agent who can keep tabs on the situation from time to time, that would help too.
Sep 07 2014, 06:17 PM
Kew Johannesburg. Should I put lime on the lawn and in the garden
Sep 08 2014, 09:31 AM
The benefits of lime on the lawn and in the garden depend on whether or not your soil is acidic. There is a scale for measuring soil acidity or alkalinity. A pH of 7 is considered neutral. Acidity is when the pH is on the lower side of 7. For example most lawn grasses prefer a pH of say 5.5-6.5. This same pH range is also best for growing of fruit, vegetables and plants/shrubs. Acid loving plants like azaleas, camelias and blueberries prefer a pH in the range 5-5.5. The purpose of lime, in addition to supplying calcium is primarily to RAISE the pH i.e. increase soil alkalinity. For example, if your soil pH was well below 5.5, you would find that most (with some exclusions) plants and lawn grasses would not grow well, since uptake of nutrients would be inhibited. Even adding compost to the soil would not benefit the plants. So you would need to add lime. But if your soil is already neutral or alkaline (pH 7 or greater) adding lime would make nutrients unavailable to plants and lawn grasses, because of excessive alkalinity. You need to establish whether your soil is alkaline or acidic, and to what degree. I suggest you go and speak to someone at your nearest large retail nursery and ask them how you can test your soil. They might have soil test kits, or be able to refer you to a laboratory (the CSIR might do this sort of testing). Finally there are actually two types of lime on the market : (1) Agricultural lime (garden lime) which is primarily calcium carbonate and (2) Dolomitic lime, which contains the additional element magnesium. It is not common at all to spread lime on the lawn or in the garden - but lime is quite often added to compost heaps to assist in the breakdown of raw materials. Below is a link you might find informative :
Sep 04 2014, 01:42 PM
Hi there,
I just planted 1500m sqr instant lawn (3 weeks ago)- kikuyu, the lawn was winter stock so it's yellow. The property is a weekend home at the Vaaldam so I have been watering once a week only, but done thoroughly for the entire day – I know it’s insufficient. This weekend I'm installing a controller to water on a daily basis, what do you recommend the duration should be and how often during the day – or night?
Sep 08 2014, 10:10 AM
One of my friends who does landscaping, including laying of lawns is firmly of the opinion that a newly laid lawn should not be touched (mowed or walked on) for two months after laying. So, your new lawn is most likely still bedding in. And you guys will only just be getting into Spring up on the Highveld. This means that lawns will not yet be in full active growth. I'd say that the fact that you have watered weekly, deeply was exactly the correct thing to do - keeping the soil around the roots moist while the lawn was dormant. All that said, here are some vital facts about healthy lawns : (1) Only water in the early morning (say 4-10am). Mornings are usually windless and cool, midday is too hot and water will quickly evaporate and evenings leave water on the grass which promotes lawn disease (2) Water less frequently but deeply. You should not water each day. If you have clay soil then once a week is sufficient. If sandy soil then water every three days (3) Water long enough each session to wet the soil to a depth of 12cm (the depth of the roots of grass). You should preferably test the water penetration. It is said that the equivalent of 25mm of rain will be sufficient. So you can switch on your sprinkler system and place some flat bottomed tins randomly in the area, wait until they have filled to say 12mm, then check water penetration. Switch the sprinklers on again until water penetration is about 12cm. At a guess and depending on your soil type the tins should be about 25mm full of water. You should add together the times that the sprinklers were on - this will tell you how long to set the timer on your irrigation controller. Some controllers have a feature which will detect the presence of rain, and then not switch on the sprinklers. To directly answer your Question : probably water twice weekly, each time for as long as it takes for the water to penetrate 12cm into the soil, and do this early morning.
Sep 09 2014, 09:56 AM
Thanks for the advice Rod. I'm sure glad I was doing the right thing with the watering of the new lawn :) ....up to now. With the controller installed now I will adjust the timming. Thanks again.
Sep 03 2014, 12:48 PM
Good day, I am from Nelspruit, Mpumalanga and am trying to get my lawn to look good again, but to no avail due to the weeds that have Crept in during Winter. How do I solve this as my yard is really big. Please help.
Sep 04 2014, 11:24 AM
There is no easy way to rid your lawn of weeds, unfortunately. Some people find weeding very therapeutic, but your lawn is large so that approach is probably impractical. Your only other method would be to use a broad-spectrum herbicide for weeds. You do not mention what type of lawn you have. If it is Buffalo Grass, or a mixture including Buffalo, then since this grass has fairly broad leaves you would need to use something like Banweed MCPA which is safe to use on Buffalo Grass. Otherwise try Turfweeder APM, which is broad-spectrum and will control broad-leafed weeds. There are essential rules to follow when planning to spray for lawn weeds. You'll find them mentioned in quite a lot of Responses to Questions I've addressed under some of the other lawn articles in the eGardens Library section. But in summary : (1) Feed and water your lawn well for two weeks before you spray (2) Do not cut the lawn for those two weeks - this maximises weed leaf surface area for absorption of the herbicide (3) Spray when there is no rain about for at least the next six hours (4) Consult the pamphlet in the herbicide packaging for exact dilution (5) Spray on a wind-free day to avoid spray drift onto surrounding plants (6) Repeat the spraying after say two weeks as spraying just once will not be 100% successful. Hope the above makes life easier for you!
Sep 05 2014, 10:44 AM
Thanks a million Rod, Hopefully my lawn will be back to looking great again soon.
Sep 01 2014, 06:54 PM
Please tell me what causes my kikuyu lawn to look like this. It got too much water and started going yellow towards mid july. What chemical do I apply to rectify this as fast as possible? The garden is in Johannesburg
Sep 02 2014, 11:11 AM
Are you sure the yellowing was not caused by frost? How cold was your Winter was up on the Highveld this year? But if you're convinced that your Kikuyu Grass got waterlogged, then yellowing would have been the result of (1) nutrients being leached away by the excess water and (2) anaerobic conditions - the absence of oxygen and air pockets in the root zone - preventing the grass from breathing properly and leading to rotting. Excess chlorine in the water can also lead to yellowing. But in your favour is that Kikuyu is a very robust, deep rooted grass and in fact very difficult to kill off! If you wish to go the synthetic, chemical route then any high Nitrogen granular fertiliser is ok e.g. 4:1:1. Just make sure to water well after application to prevent burning your grass. Or if you prefer the organic approach, and are prepared to put up with a slight odor for a couple of days, you can sprinkle some pelletised poultry manure e.g. Neutrog BladeRunner. Both types of fertiliser should green up your lawn fairly quickly, especially now that Spring has sprung!
Aug 31 2014, 12:23 PM
Hi Rod
I stay in Cape Town and currently have a mostly-Kikuyu lawn which gets plenty of sun. However there are 2 areas where there is buffalo mixed in with it leading to a very different look. Further, these 2 areas get only afternoon sun, and even less in winter. I am wanting to pull up those areas and replant (from plugs) - the question being whether to use only kikuyu or a mix of kikuyu and Berea - which seems to look more similar than does Buffalo.
Any advice would be appreciated.
Sep 02 2014, 10:18 AM
Yes, Kikuyu does have a softer mat than does Buffalo Grass. And quite a different look. I often came across them mixed and usually had to look quite carefully to see which was which! I remember it said that Buffalo would eventually overwhelm Kikuyu, but I never saw that in practice. Maybe because Kikuyu is very deep rooted while Buffalo spreads via rooted surface runners. Berea Grass is indeed much fluffier and more green and should match well with the Kikuyu. And it is a good choice if the area where you will plant it gets minimal sun. In my experience Berea is not a robust fast growing grass, so I can't see it being overwhelmed by the Kikuyu. Just remember to give it good nutrients and soil area into which to expand after planting. And I'm wondering why you don't want to just replant the ex-Buffalo areas with Kikuyu (unless you're concerned about the amount of sun)?
Sep 02 2014, 01:33 PM
Thanks Rob. Interestingly the buffalo does seem to get the better of the kikuyu over time - I would have expected the reverse with the kikuyu being theoretically more vigorous, hence the need for a complete replant of an area.
And yes, I'm concerned about the Kikuyu not flourishing where there isn't enough sun, and thus the area getting quite full of weeds in winter. I might still try go purely with Kikuyu, but the other option is to interplant with Berea which I thought might solve both issues.
Thanks for your advice.
Aug 21 2014, 02:21 PM
I have cut my lawn very short and racked up all the dead grass, I intend to airate the grass using a spiked roller. I will also put lawn dressing on but my question is when do I apply 4.1.1? I stay in Pietermaritzburg
Aug 22 2014, 03:30 PM
So you have "scarified" your lawn. I know this is often the practice on the Highveld with its colder Winters. Not sure what exactly the Winter climate is in 'Maritzburg but I do recall in the 80s starting the Comrade's Marathon in your city centre and it was 1degC! What you propose doing in terms of lawn aerating and top dressing is fine. Regarding the 4:1:1, the fertiliser has considerably more Nitrogen than either Phosphorus or Potassium.Thus it will assist the grass in producing new, green growth. But the key with fertilising, is that it should only be done at those times of the year when the grass is growing actively. If you fertilise when the grass is dormant, the fertiliser is simply wasted i.e. of no benefit to the lawn. So, if necessary look at other lawns in your suburb and see if they are starting to grow. If they are, then you can apply 4:1:1. My gut feel is that it might be better to delay just the fertilising until early September. And be sure to water well after applying it, plus use correct application rates - many have burnt their lawns in the past because the resultant fertiliser concentration is was too high.
Aug 20 2014, 01:36 PM
I stay on the west rand in Johannesburg. we have just applied lawn dressing. How much and how often should I water my lawn after applying the lawn dressing?
Kind Regards
Aug 21 2014, 10:13 AM
It's always good to water the lawn after dressing it to get most of the dressing down to the root zone, where it's nutrition will be beneficial. The other purposes of lawn dressing are to even out indentations and provide a thin layer through which the new blades can grow, nice and green. Much like grass rejuvenation after a veld fire. So, you can water immediately after applying the lawn dressing. Some say that as one enters the season when rains occur, one only needs to water once a week, but the equivalent of 25mm of rain. In other words water deeply and less often. But I'd say try to water twice a week, deeply, if you can afford it. Two additional recommendations : (1) water in the morning, not evening to minimise the chance if lawn disease (2) I often suggest multiple applications of light lawn dressing over a period of weeks.
Aug 19 2014, 03:56 PM
What do I use for mole crickets.
Aug 20 2014, 10:18 AM
Thanks for your interesting Question, which took me back to my childhood days when I lived in a place called Lyttelton (Centurion area). We had lots of mole crickets (molkrieke) in our back yard. We either used water from a hosepipe down their burrows to force them to the surface, or quickly shoved a spade through their burrow below them while they were at the entrance to the burrow, singing merrily in the Summer evening! But all that history aside, there seem to be two ways to tackle the problem : (1) Gently and with respect for the environment or (2) Using a pesticide. The first method involves pouring a soap solution down their burrow, then catching them when they come up to breathe, and "disposing" of them in a way you see fit (e.g. take them far away). Care should be taken not to make the soapy solution so strong that it would damage your plants. The second method is to use an appropriate pesticide, either granular or liquid. This is not an environment-friendly approach. but is quicker and probably more effective. An example is Efekto's Zero Molecricket. There might be similar products from other manufacturers. In any event, do read the package insert carefully and follow the instructions to the letter. I'm providing below a website with general information about the mole cricket. And if you Google the keywords "rid mole cricket" you will find a number of websites with mole cricket information, including other ways to see if you indeed have them and how to get rid of them.
Dec 14 2014, 09:08 AM
Easy way to get rid of Mole Crickets is to sprinkle Omo, Surf or whatever washing powder you have, on the area where the crickets are active. Water well and the little critters pop up and voila....they expire.
Aug 18 2014, 11:07 AM
Good morning,
I have a LM grass lawn and need to give it some fertiliser. What type can i use? Also there's some patches where it's not looking to good more ground than grass. Will it cover it again or must i plant grass again.

Kind regards
Aug 19 2014, 09:59 AM
LM Grass will respond to whatever general lawn fertilisers you use, provided you dilute it according to instructions if you intend watering it in. You can begin applying fertiliser from say September, but do make sure that you water well afterwards to avoid burning the lawn, especially if you are using granular fetiliser. It is mostly the macro element Nitrogen, which is the first figure you see on fertiliser bags e.g. 4:1:1 which promotes growth and greening of the lawn. If you wish to go the organic route, and you don't mind a slight odor for a couple of days, apply pelletised poultry manure e.g. Neutrog BladeRunner. This latter fertiliser is unlikely to burn your lawn. You don't mention where in the country you live but if you live where Winters are very cold and accompanied by frost, it might still take a few weeks before your lawn recovers. But it generally will, once you have sunny days and warmer ground temperatures. For me the jury is still out on LM Berea Grass. Here in Cape Town I've seen it looking absolutely lovely, thick and soft mat, vibrant green under trees in the shade. But I've also seen it very sparse and patchy, with no thick mat at all. So personally I think that the way it grows, and looks, is very much dependent on your local weather conditions and soil etc. I would not recommend your completely replanting, but you can perhaps buy a plug try of LM Grass and just plant plugs where the lawn is particularly bare, after spreading some compost and Neutrog. That's all I can offer for now, without actually seeing the lawn. But I hope you will find something I said useful. And do be patient with your lawn!
Aug 16 2014, 04:54 PM
I live in jhb and want to cut my lawn on the lowest setting and then put lawn dressing on next week? is that ok? how often must i water after i have put the lawn dressing on? do i fertilise after that?
Aug 18 2014, 04:00 PM
The process you intend using is called "scarifying". Sometimes, if the lawn is pretty dead and has long dead runners, people rake it lightly to lift those runners up, to be cut off when the lawn is sheared. Since the scarifying process is going to knock the lawn a bit you want to do it in the Spring, when there is moisture about, warmer ground temperatures and sun. This is to give the grass its best chance to regenerate. When I lived in Pretoria many years ago I remember us scarifying in August, and that is probably still fine, though early September might be better. Immediately after scarifying, you can apply a LIGHT dressing - never completely cover the remaining lawn grass as this could result in rotting of the roots. Rather apply several light dressings over a period of weeks. And you can also fertilise immediately after scarifying to encourage new growth. Some say use a fertiliser fairly high in potassium (that's the last figure in say 2:3:4) and preferably slow release to avoid burning the new blades of grass. For a period after dressing the lawn, I'd water just enough to settle the dressing in and to maintain moisture around the roots. Maybe twice a week. You should first assess your weather and soil conditions. And do water in the mornings, not late afternoon or evening as that encourages lawn disease. I recon you'll end up with a GREAT lawn if you do all this!
Aug 16 2014, 01:07 PM
Excellent advices ,we are in W Cape and are replanting with buffalo and removing tons of weeds !any tips gratefully received
Aug 18 2014, 03:37 PM
Not sure from the text of your Question whether you are completely preparing the lawn area (removing everything including weeds), introducing buffalo plugs among other lawn grass, or if your new Buffalo (perhaps roll-on) has lots of weed in it. Anyway, I've noticed an explosion of weeds on lawns down here, no doubt mainly due to the Winter rains. To clear whole areas, for example if one is wanting to get rid of Kikuyu, I used to go and buy 5l of Clearout at Agri Co-op. That got rid of all Kikuyu as well as all weeds. Efekto has a similar product called Roundup for the home gardener. If you wish to just kill weeds already growing in the lawn grass which you wish to keep, then you would have to use another Efekto product called Banweed MCPA. It's safe to use on Buffalo lawns. But always remember the rules for spraying of lawn weeds : in summary, feed and water (if necessary) your lawn for at least 2 weeks prior to spraying, ensure the herbicide stays on the leaves of the weeds for at least 6 hours (no rain or watering) and repeat the spraying after a week or two to catch weeds which had not germinated when you first sprayed. Be careful to spray on a calm day as spray drift will damage surrounding plants. Keep the spray nozzle as close as possible to the ground. And these herbicides have virtually no ground action i.e. they are only absorbed through leaf surfaces, so planting new lawn after spraying should be safe. Do read the insert inside the herbicide package, which gives you dilution details.
Aug 12 2014, 03:46 PM
What is the difference between topsoil and lawn dressing Bassonia JHB
Aug 12 2014, 04:25 PM
People generally want to "top dress" their lawns to make them "become green". If you partly cover (never fully cover) a lawn at the appropriate time of the year, it will push through new and green blades of grass. There will be some new green growth even if the dressing medium has no nutrition. A bit like burnt veld producing fresh green growth after a while (of course the ash will provide some nutrients). The other reason for top dressing would be to even out indentations. Having said all the above, it's generally true that (1) Top soil refers to pure soil, usually not a mixture of man-added components. Top soil is conventionally what washes down from higher ground over many years. And the top layer of the soil - the top soil - is where most of the soil nutrients are to be found (2) Lawn dressing may have top soil as a component but producers often add other components to it e.g. compost, washed sand and sometimes even herbicides. So it is usually a mixture of components. Whatever top dressing you decide to use it should be fairly fine. The top soil/compost etc should have been finely sieved. And it should have neither stones nor other chunky components in it e.g. large pieces of bark, which could damage your lawn mower blades. Sometimes washed river sand alone is recommended to fill lawn indentations or to firm the mat. Sometimes people dress their lawns with animal manures, but I would not recommend that unless it has been properly composted and then finely sieved. But generally top dressing should be fine enough to be washed down to the root zone of the lawn. And it should preferably be applied several times lightly over a period of weeks, so as not to completely cover the lawn and possibly cause rot. So to finally answer your Question (phew!) topsoil and lawn dressing are just different mediums used for essentially the same purpose. Lawn dressing is more easily obtainable, more likely to be the right consistency, but more expensive per volume than top soil, which is not that easy to find (especially good quality top soil).
Aug 08 2014, 02:19 AM
A small insect with a diamond pattern on back. Causes yellow areas in Kikuyu. I live in Cuernavaca mexico at 1650 mt elev. What can I use to control this pest? Furadan?, malathion, Cipermitrin, dimethoate.maybe something stronger? Maybe something very effective that won't hurt my jack Russ dogs .
Aug 08 2014, 09:18 AM
Not sure if you picked up that we are a South African based reference site. So, I am only really familiar with pests native to this country, not USA or Mexico. You will have pests over there that we don't have here. I looked around on the Internet but don't find any definite insect which fits your description. This is the procedure I recommend : (1) Identify exactly what your insect is. If necessary take pictures to your local nursery or send them to your Department of Agriculture (or similar institution) (2) Find out from your nurserymen or DOA what pesticide is best to use for your specific insect (3) Follow the application instructions in the package insert to the letter. And always use gloves and a face mask to protect yourself from any harmful chemicals. I am always loath to suggest ANY pesticide until the target has been positively identified. I found an excellent website (USA based) which you might wish to consult :
Also, regarding pesticides and animals - this is often a concern for people with pets, but practically speaking most pesticides are diluted substantially before use so that the concentration will be harmful only to the target insects, not large animals. Just keep the pesticide container where it can't be reached and then eaten, by your dogs. Of the pesticides you mention, I am only familiar with Malathion. Whatever pesticide you decide to use, pull its detailed information off the Internet. Once the pesticide has been applied, if you are concerned about your dogs you can give the lawn a thorough watering, but AFTER the insecticide has had a sufficient time to do its work. If you wish, you can send some digital pictures of the insect to me ( I will try to research further as I am always happy and willing to learn more.
Aug 05 2014, 11:36 AM
Gert Louw
When do I start to put fertiliser on my kikuyu lawn after winter in Bloemfontein. I normally water my lawn in the late afternoon( start at 18h00). Is that a good time/
Aug 05 2014, 02:17 PM
One usually starts fertilising lawns from September onwards, as that is about when they will commence active growth. This is a general rule country-wide. Also a general rule is that it's better to water lawns (gardens as well) in the morning rather than the afternoon (especially late afternoon). The main reason is that early watering gives excess water time to evaporate off leaves or blades of grass, while late watering leaves moisture which, together with cool evenings, encourages fungus growth and disease. And of course, in Bloemfontein you might still experience the odd bout of frost, which would be exacerbated by moisture remaining on the lawn.
Jul 31 2014, 04:11 PM
Lorna Bentley
Have just bought a house in Dullstroom - can I top dress the lawn now plus fertilize Very dry at present and have removed the weeds leaving plenty holes. Would value your input
Aug 05 2014, 02:07 PM
It's still a little early (August) to top dress your lawn in Dullstroom, where Winters are pretty cold and you might still have some bouts of frost. I'd wait until the weather gets warmer, from September onwards - you can decide when you feel Spring has finally arrived! Top dressing now, before the lawn is growing actively would put you at risk of killing off the lawn. When you do top dress, you can just give the holes a thicker layer of top dressing. It's generally best to apply several thinner layers of top dressing over a period of weeks, watering it in after each application. Top dressing medium can be good quality sieved soil, often mixed with fine compost or even washed river sand. If you want to be sure that the roots of your lawn are not getting too dry right now you can say weekly give the lawn a good soaking (preferably morning so that excess moisture will evaporate before nighttime frost) - and if you can bear a slight odour for a couple of days, throw down some Neutrog BladeRunner of Bounceback.
Jul 31 2014, 02:45 PM
when do can i cover my lawn with topsoil and what do i use springs gauteng small lawn but want it nice and thick this year please
Aug 05 2014, 02:50 PM
If you scroll up from here (there might also be some other Responses I've provided to people if you scroll down) you will see that especially up country I advocate waiting until warmer weather arrives, say from September onwards. So do wait just a little longer (it's now August). Healthy lawns are ones which receive adequate water and nutrition. Make sure that you water preferably in the morning, deeply and less frequently, rather than lightly and frequently. To feed your lawn you will have to go either the synthetic (chemical) fertiliser route (e.g. 3:2:1, 4:1:1 etc.) or the organic route (e.g. Neutrog BladeRunner pelletised poultry manure). Sprinkle this on your lawn say once a month. And remember to water well after each application. The way to get the lawn mat thick and green would be, in addition to the above watering and feeding, to set your mower higher than you normally do thereby allowing the grass blades to grow longer. But do be careful of your lawn developing a mat which is excessively spongy as that makes it difficult to push the mower along. Longer grass blades do however provide a little extra protection for the roots from the hot Summer sun. Top dressing medium should preferably be a mixture of good soil and sieved compost. Clean washed river sand is sometimes used, sometimes as an additive to firm up the mat.
Jul 21 2014, 05:54 PM
I need lawn for two hectares which shall be used for feeding sheep. Please place you recommendation. Thanks.
Jul 21 2014, 07:47 PM
Thanks for an interestingly "different" Question! I must admit that my knowledge does not extend far into agriculture. So I have done some research on lawns and sheep. Some people use sheep as an eco-friendly alternative to the lawnmower. You will find pictures of lovely white woolly sheep grazing on emerald green fields of grass, so letting your sheep feed on lawn should do no harm. I did read accounts of people feeding fresh lawn clippings to sheep and the sheep suffering from bloat as a result. This was put down to too great a volume of green clippings, with too much moisture in them and probable fermentation. If feeding clippings, it is better to spread them out (rather than in a heap) and to have them dry out first. Of all the lawn grass I know, I imagine that only Kikuyu Grass would grow sufficiently vigorously to consistently provide feed for your sheep. Unless you rotate the sheep from pen to pen, which you will probably do anyway. You might also want to make contact with the Department of Agriculture (if that's what they are now called, and if we still have one!), just to be sure you will be planting an appropriate grass. All of the websites I looked at said that sheep do better the longer the grass stalks and the drier they are. By the way, Kikuyu Grass is known to be a bit of a waterholic if it is to stay green and healthy.
Jul 21 2014, 09:07 PM
Thanks Rod.
Jul 21 2014, 01:24 PM
I live in Wilderness and have LM lawn which is beautiful and has remained so throughout Winter. I originally top-dressed it a year ago after it was laid and want to do it again this Spring. However a popular gardening website says to "never put top dressing on LM lawn"
Is this correct? and if so why
Jul 21 2014, 02:32 PM
LM Berea and Buffalo Grass are both surface grasses i.e. they spread by sending runners along the top of the soil and setting down roots. Kikuyu, on the other hand, can dive very deep into the soil (up to 1m or more) which it is why it is considered invasive in parts of the world, and is very difficult to get rid of. I also found websites which say one should avoid top dressing LM Berea (or Buffalo), but they don't give reasons. Common sense tells me that particularly surface grasses should never be completely covered by top soil. I've seen how effective covering surface plants, weeds and even tree stumps with black plastic can be if one wants to kill them off. And of course black plastic is often used under stone chips to suppress weed growth. I think completely covering LM Berea would have the same effect. It would not be able to use the photosynthesis process, essential for its health. Kikuyu would probably survive because some of its deeper roots would remain alive. I never recommend a thick layer of top soil, rather multiple thinner layers, applied over a period of time and always washed down into the root zone of the grass. I must say I've never come across LM Berea or Buffalo lawns being top dressed. But going by gut feel, I doubt that doing so would kill the lawn if it is done JUDICIOUSLY, according to the above mentioned principles. And unless you want to even out indentations or reduce sponginess, why bother about top dressing when you can just feed with an organic fertiliser? Hope the above helps you in some way...
Jul 21 2014, 04:40 PM
Thanks Rod. Makes sense. As a newcomer to coastal living one is concerned, rightly or wrongly, of the poor nutritional content of dune sand and thus the urge to introduce decent topsoil. I'll go the BladeRunner route and introduce nutrition that way.
Jul 17 2014, 11:03 AM
I live in Tulbagh, noted for heavy clay soil. I was wondering when to start fertilizing my kikuwe lawn? I feel I would like to start now (late July) as we are expecting a cold front and the rain would water the fertiliser in instead of hosepipe. Also, do I spray Lime Sulphur before I prune roses, and how long before I prune them?
Jul 17 2014, 01:11 PM
Wherever in the country one lives, September onwards is the accepted time to start fertilising lawns. Though lawns remain green in Winter here in the Western Cape due to the rainfall, the grass will not be growing actively. If you wish you can throw down some Neutrog BladeRunner pelletised poultry manure and let it gradually break down and be washed into the soil by the rain. It does have a slight odor for a day or two. If you're ok with artificial fertilisers, you can start using them when the weather gets warmer, from September. And remember it's better to water deeply every few days, rather than shallowly every day. Roses need to be sprayed with lime sulphur immediately AFTER pruning. The best period to prune roses is the last week of July to the first week of August. I've noticed that the roses seem to keep some leaves down here and not drop them all entirely as is the case up-country. You might want to give them a second spray with the lime sulphur after say a week, but before the pruning stimulates them to put out new shoots. Remember to use fresh lime sulphur, not what is left from last year. And give them a good feed and mulching after you prune them.
Jul 16 2014, 01:35 PM
We have a kikuyu grass runway in the southern suburbs for radio controlled model aircraft. Said grass was planted in August 2013, and is coming along fairly well, but needs to be evened and hastened along. Should we be applying top soil and any particular fertiliser at this stage, and what is the best process to ensure success? Many thanks.
Jul 16 2014, 02:48 PM
I would imagine that your runway will require a fairly firm surface, not spongy. You will know that the Cape Winter rains keep lawn grass green, but that lawns do not really grow actively until the warmer weather of Spring/Summer, and will then need supplemental water. As this article states, you should cut the Kikuyu fairly short until say September. Thereafter leave enough of a mat to protect the roots from the sun. You can if you wish throw down a little Neutrog BladeRunner pelletised poultry manure occasionally, but serious feeding should only be done from about September onwards. You can fill in any indentations with either a good quality lawn dressing/topsoil, or preferably with washed river sand (the latter will assist with drainage). Finally, if you have the enthusiasm and energy, you can use a roller on the area - that is what they do for cricket pitches and bowling greens, to get them firm and flat.
*** eGardens is now able to pass on consulting or general landscaping requests to a reputable landscaper.
Jul 16 2014, 08:34 PM
*This Response sent via email*
Hi Team,
Many thanks for your advice, which will be put to good use.
Jun 26 2014, 02:07 PM
Hi. I'm from Salt Rock in Ballito. My Cynodon grass lawn has recently got many "divots" in which patches have appeared all over where there is no growth happening. I think it could be ants as in a few of the holes there are insect holes. Is this a normal occurrence and could ants cause this damage? Thanks
Jun 26 2014, 04:16 PM
I'd say you need to identify what is causing the divots. Try to establish whether they are caused by a disease, or insects of some sort. If you suspect it's ants, then pour some ant poison down the holes in one of the divots. The ants will quickly come up to the surface. The holes might also be caused by crickets, and they too will not like the ant poison, hence might come to the surface. I have in the past come across lawn caterpillar in Quick and Kikuyu lawns, but usually during the hot months of January to March (they apparently hatch from eggs laid on the grass blades by a small grey butterfly). They live among the roots and would not leave holes in the soil though. One can spray with Karbaspray or Karbasol and see within about 15 minutes if lawn caterpillars come to the surface. Otherwise water an area with a dishwashing solution, or leave a mat or blanket on the lawn overnight and see whether there is anything underneath in the morning. You might also find crickets there if that is the pest causing your damage. Ants in my experience will usually bring grains of sand (from the burrows they are digging) to the surface, leaving little mounds. But if they are termites they might be eating the lawn grass, especially now that it's Winter, and leaving bald patches. I'm guessing that your problem is caused by ants or termites - please let me know what you find! First eliminate pests as the cause, and only thereafter see what disease your lawn might have.
Jun 27 2014, 01:25 PM
Thank you for your advice Rod. I will try these out and let you know how it works out.
Jun 25 2014, 12:50 PM
I had cement and brick work done and the grass around the area turned brown and died. I tried washing it off and raking. How can I bring my lawn back?
Jun 25 2014, 02:51 PM
Cement is known to be alkaline, mainly caused by one of its constituents, lime. A pH of 7.0 is considered neutral, below 7.0 is acidic and above 7.0 is alkaline. Lawn grasses need an acidic environment, a pH between 5.8 and 6.5. Outside of that range, the lawn grass will not absorb nutrients from the soil (even though they may be present). So, the lawn grass dies. Logic tells me that one way to address the cement problem would be to leach it out, by thoroughly soaking the area. I understand that introducing sulphur to the soil would lower the pH. Maybe that would be the best approach. I suggest you talk to the people at your nearest large retail nursery, and see what sulphur-containing products they have. But don't use a product which also induces alkalinity. If the above doesn't work you would need to remove the lawn and the top layer of soil, and then put in new soil followed by new lawn. I will check around and see if there is another way of decreasing the pH level, and update this Response if relevant. You don't s[pecifically mention the type of lawn grass you have, but if it's Kikuyu, that gives you your best chance of bringing it back, as it is very deep rooted.
Jul 11 2014, 12:25 AM
Thank you for your helpful advice.
Jun 21 2014, 07:07 PM
Just read Your valuable Cape Peninsula article.
I live in Northern Suburbs on the boerewors curtain where soils are alkaline.

Would You recommend throwing/sprinkling a light spread of dried horse manure on established lawns whilst it is still raining this Winter ?
In Summer, the horse manure lies dried on top of the lawn until someone waters the lawn.

I would say that the best time to apply this lawn dressing would be late Autumn so that the grass blades will grow well. Or add to the soil, as suggested in a composted form prior to laying down a new lawn or sods.

The question now is - would it be beneficial, be of no real benefit or just not recommended to sprinkle horse manure on the lawn at this time of the year while it is still raining ?

And is dried horse manure considered good for purpling leaves and also for vegetables growing just prior to fruiting, growing the major foliage, fattening up?

All out of interest. Would like to know.

Many thanks if anyone takes to replying!
Jun 22 2014, 02:50 PM
Quite a few years ago I attended a seminar in the Paarl area which was given by experts in the making of compost, from Holland. I recall quite clearly that they advocated NEVER using raw animal manure in horticulture. They said it should ALWAYS be composted i.e. regularly turned over a period of time, preferably mixed with other organic material until it was properly broken down (mineralised). This process turns the raw manure with it's toxic anaerobic bacteria, into beneficial aerobic compost. And horse manure in it's raw form often contains a lot of urea which can burn lawns and plants. It's also important to note that organic material only becomes a beneficial feed once it is in a mineral water-soluble form for absorption by the roots. Phew, that was all quite a mouthful, but important! Just using common sense, nutrients (whether artificial fertilisers or compost minerals) will tend to be leached out of the soil when there is a lot of rain water passing through the soil. Also, though lawns tend to be green in the Western Cape at this time of the year, there is very little active growth because of insufficient warmth. So I would recommend waiting until September/October before attempting to feed the lawn. Rather use the intervening time to properly compost your horse manure. In my youth we used to jokingly refer to horse manure as "brown gold" as it was such a valuable material if properly processed. Referring to the other part of your Question, yes, PROPERLY COMPOSTED horse manure would benefit your vegetables, fruit trees or plants generally and help address any deficiencies in minerals in your soil. Another thing most people don't know is that there are essentially two different types of compost : bacteria dominated and fungus dominated. Essentially this means : if you will use the compost on your vegetables, then use VEGETABLE MATTER predominantly in making your compost. You'll find that this compost will be bacteria dominated and benefit the vegetables maximally. Conversely, if you use mostly brown twiggy material in making your compost it will be fungus dominated and be of better use in beds with shrubs or trees. This Response is becoming a bit like a lecture so I'll stop now! Maybe I should do a Library article on Compost Making for eGardens - what do you think?
Jun 16 2014, 10:21 AM
Hi Rod
I'm a novice gardener and live in Cape Town and need some advice regarding my lawn, its kikuyu and looks rather drab and undernourished, is it ok to feed lawn in winter? This goes for the rest of the garden too, or do I need to wait for spring? Many thanks !
Jun 25 2014, 11:34 AM
I thought I'd answered this particular Question, but I see that if I did, my Response somehow got "lost in translation" - sorry! In my opinion there's not too much point in worrying about the condition of lawn down here in Cape Town in Winter. Though lawns might be greener than up-country, the grass will not really grow actively until Spring brings with it warmer soil temperatures. In terms of feeding, the only thing I'd suggest is throwing down some Neutrog BladeRunner every few weeks, if you're ok with the slight odor for a day or two. Regarding the garden generally, substantial rain will just leach out any fertiliser you put into the soil, so rather wait until Spring. But you can put down compost and/or mulch as this will break down (mineralise) slowly. Many plants e.g. roses and hydrangeas will really enjoy a good mulching to keep their roots at an even temperature. Use this time of year to psyche yourself up to "Spring" into action in a couple of months! *** eGardens now offers on-site consultation as well as landscaping services - see the eGardens website Home page. ***
Jun 13 2014, 11:00 AM
My gardening skills are very limited, however. there is a patch of lawn in a semi-shade area is rather sparse and I'd like to fill it in. What can I do to get it looking thick and healthy?
Jun 15 2014, 01:23 PM
You don't mention what your lawn grass is (Kikuyu? Buffalo?) nor what is causing the semi-shade (trees?). Kikuyu does better in sun than semi-shade. Tree roots can take up nutrients which would otherwise feed the lawn. Generally, I'd recommend that you try to loosen up the sparse area with a fork, then spread some well broken down compost and/or pelletised poultry manure. Thereafter plant some plugs or runners of the same grass as your lawn and keep the soil moist. Of course the very action of providing more nutrition in the sparse area might encourage the existing lawn grass to re-spread there. If it's Kikuyu Grass you have, you might want to introduce a grass which does better in semi-shade, such as Buffalo or LM Grass. Or Wonderlawn. All of these grasses would coexist with Kikuyu. Just use plugs or runners to plant up the sparse area.
Jun 16 2014, 06:53 PM
Thanks for your response Rod. It seems like mixture of types but mostly buffalo.
The shade comes from a Pepper tree. Is this the right time of year to start with replenishing the lawn.
Jun 17 2014, 12:12 PM
Oh dear! Those Brazilian Pepper trees though having a lovely shape, have roots which are such a problem! They suck up nutrients, run very close to the surface and inhibit anything planted underneath. Your best approach would probably be to plant some LM Grass plugs (you can usually get them in trays at a local nursery). You might also want to try Wonderlawn, a round-lobed groundcover to spread into the very bare spots. Irrespective of where in the country you live, I'd wait until the Spring before doing anything to remedy the situation. Up country the Winters are usually too cold for planting of grass, and in the Cape, lawn grass though it stays green does not grow actively until about October.
May 22 2014, 05:04 PM
Almora Hoffmann
Our Kikuyu lawn became very thatchy and the lawn started to die in places. We bought Efeekto Bravo 720, what is your opinion? We have very sandy soil (On the coast outside of East London), not sea sand, though.
Jun 25 2014, 11:16 AM
I presume that when you say "thatchy" you mean lots of dead grass blade debris in the mat (and not spongy as often happens with new roll-on lawns which don't have sufficient soil around the roots). I don't know the size of your lawn, but would it be possible to rake it, using one of those flexible plastic rakes, to remove as much of the dead debris as possible? Also, there is no problem with using Efekto Bravo 720, IF your lawn suffers from one of the diseases listed in the package insert. I see Efekto recommend that if your chosen herbicide appears not to work, you should switch to another herbicide with a different active ingredient. So you might wish to try Efekto Lawn Fungicide 500 EC, which fits that bill. But at this stage you probably don't know EXACTLY what disease you lawn has (if any) so it's all a bit hit-and-miss! Lawns being in poor condition can usually be put down to insufficient feeding and watering. And such a lawn will be more prone to disease (low immune system), so take a careful look at what might be missing. Remember that it's now Winter when lawns generally don't grow actively, though they might remain green in parts of the country. Make sure that there is always moisture at root level, even in Winter. You can try throwing down some Neutrog BladeRunner pelletised poultry manure every few weeks. When Spring arrives you might wish to apply several light dressings of good weed-free topsoil or finely sieved compost, over a period of weeks, to supplement the nutrition presently in the soil and to level out any uneveness. Never completely cover the mat with topsoil. Kikuyu is actually a very hardy, invasive lawn grass and is in fact banned in parts of the USA. Very difficult to get rid of once established, and that should work in your favour. With the above multi-pronged approach (feeding/watering/spraying) I think your lawn will revive given time. Hope so!
May 22 2014, 09:47 AM
HI im in jhb westrand just moved my grass some places in garden doesnt look good its winter now how can i make it look beter some places in garden i did plant bloks off kikuyu grass to let it look beter what can i do
Jun 25 2014, 08:52 AM
Firstly, Winter is not the time of year on the Highveld for lawn grass to be looking good. The cold and frost, plus lack of rainfall means that naturally the lawn grass will turn beige and become dormant - not grow actively. Healthy lawns are those that receive sufficient water and nutrients. Some water in Winter might help the lawn grass stay alive, but you should rather wait until September for Spring before attempting to make your lawn look good. Transplanting blocks of Kikuyu was a good idea - rooted Kikuyu runners would also work. When the weather warms up a bit, you can throw down some Neutrog BladeRunner pelletised poultry manure every few weeks - if you can tolerate the odor for a day or two! Otherwise, please exercise patience...
May 08 2014, 07:08 PM
I live in Cape Town. When is the best time to put lawn dressing or topsoil on lawn?
Jun 22 2014, 04:44 PM
I recommend doing this no earlier than September, and preferably in October when temperatures begin to rise and active growth commences in the Cape Peninsula. Lawn dressing is usually a mixture of good quality soil mixed with compost, hence will provide some nutrients to the lawn, as well as green it up when the lawn growths through it. If the intent is only to firm the lawn mat, then people sometimes use clean washed river sand, or sand mixed with compost.
May 06 2014, 10:01 PM
I would like to plant a new lawn ( area previously covered by gravel stone) in Plumstrad, western Cape, on the South and Western sides of the house. Both sides get lots of sun in summer, but the south side is almost full shade in winter ( but not very dark shade). I am keen to go indigenous and was wondering whether Sapphire Buffalo could be a possibility? It seems hard to find. I have read that it is more shade tolerant than standard buffalo, but am worried that the shady winter may prove too long for it. I would like a soft non invasive grass, could lm be a better choice?
As the rest of the garden is /will be predominantly locally indigenous I was also wondering how one keeps the lawn feeding way from the beds- would it leach into the beds- as fynbos wouldn't cope with that!
Jun 21 2014, 05:26 PM
At last a Response for you - I hope not too late - I was out of action for quite a while! I've not actually seen Sapphire Buffalo Grass being sold locally, or growing as a lawn. It seems to have come from Australia. Most comments on the Internet say it is roughly as shade tolerant as normal Buffalo, but one or two said it does marginally better in shade. That's all irrelevant if you can't find stock of it locally. I saw mention of it under Keith Kirsten's Proven Winners website, so maybe he is the supplier. I suggest you inquire at local retail nurseries where you find plants under his brand name. My own feeling is that LM Grass would be a good alternative. It's not exactly a prolific lawn grass but I've seen it growing in quite deep shade under a tree, and looking beautiful. I don't think you need be concerned about lawn feeding impacting on your indigenous plants, provided you only throw down fertiliser on the lawn itself. I believe the amount which might leach into the flower beds would be minimal. And one could play it even more safe by using a pelletised poultry manure e.g. Neutrog Bounceback, which is also ok to use on most indigenous plants (it is claimed).
Jun 22 2014, 09:25 PM
Thank, Rod, that's helpful. I'll give sourcing sapphire a shot in the springtime, and if I don't get hold of it, will mix regular buffalo and LM, I think. the kids are enjoying 30sqm of mud pit for the time being ;).
Jan 03 2015, 07:38 AM
Hi Rod,

We planted sapphire plugs beginning October and now have in places thin but generally full coverage. I've now mowed once, previously I just kept long disobedient runners in check with scissors. They dont seem to respond to the mower ( 2000w electic). the lawn still needs to be leveled - it looks ok but when you mow, you know ;). so i cut on the second/ third setting. Can you advise what to do with runners in the middle of the lawn - do I trim them/leave them / hope they get cut by the mower? How long is long?

Thanks for your site! You're going to need some sort of search for your questions/responses soon!!
Jan 04 2015, 02:34 PM
We appreciate that you find the eGardens website useful! You probably have two options for dealing with those long runners : (1) Just set your mower at a longish height (leaving say 60-80mm of leaf if you can) and make sure that its blades are sharp - you don't want them pulling out the new plugs (2) You can use an edge trimmer instead of the mower until the lawn is more established. It's vital to NOT cut your lawn short at this time of the year. The roots need protection from the Summer heat and drying winds.
Apr 29 2014, 06:26 PM
Hi. I am looking to plant a buffalo lawn in the next week or so but im gathering this might not be the best time. I live in stellenbosch. Just wondering if there would be enough time for the grass to establish before the onset of winter. Im looking at roll on. Your feedback would be appreciated. Thank you.
Jun 19 2014, 04:37 PM
Your Question arrived at a time when I was "out of action" and I'm only now dealing with the big backlog - so sorry, and hope my Response is not too late for you! Neither Autumn nor Winter is a good time to plant Buffalo Grass. One grower of Buffalo Grass says its best to wait until "it's warm enough to wear short pants", implying around October down here in the Cape. Lawn grass though green does not grow actively at this time of the year. But provided your lawn doesn't get totally waterlogged causing it to rot, you should still be ok, though it's not the ideal time. If you're intending laying down roll-on Buffalo, you probably want instant results. My own feeling (and experience) is that Buffalo plugs ultimately give a firmer and more level lawn.
***eGardens is now able to outsource a variety of landscaping services, including laying of lawns.
Mar 17 2014, 08:21 AM
have you got a quick solution to make our bowling green grass mat quickly.Down since October but will not mat.
Mar 17 2014, 01:52 PM
lorrain e
New South Wales. Australia have you got a quick solution to make our Bowling Green mat it was planted in early Spring and is still very sparse.
Jun 02 2014, 10:24 AM
So sorry to take so long to respond - I've been out of action since late March. As in the case of golf greens, the construction and maintenance of lawn bowling greens requires specialist skills. From the literature it is clear that three main principles need to be adhered to : (1) adequate aeration (2) feeding frequently but only a little at a time, using the correct nutrients and (3) watering deeply but infrequently. Unless you have a serious soil problem or a disease/fungus which it inhibiting the planted green from spreading, you should seek a solution in the three principles above. You might wish to consult the following website which has excellent information on bowling green construction and maintenance :
The section on lawn bowling greens gives substantial technical data (such as types and quantities of nutrients) and is too detailed to repeat in this Response. eGardens is based in Cape Town, South Africa so I am unsure about your specific climatic conditions, but I do hope the above helps you somewhat!

Jun 03 2014, 01:56 PM
Please page down from here and refer to my response below. Thank you...
Mar 13 2014, 11:24 AM
Lee-Ann Wright
Hi, we have a cynodon grass lawn and caterpillars have invaded.! We live in lanseria johannesburg. I have pets and 18month twins who are always on the grass. What is a more natural way to get rid of these pests other than Karba spray stuff.
Mar 13 2014, 03:24 PM
I've personally never heard of ill effects on children or pets from KarbaSpray on a lawn. But I understand your concern for your babies, and the pets. I don't know of a natural pesticide for lawn caterpillars, but perhaps you might look at the Margaret Roberts range - she might have something appropriate. If you did rather decide to go the KarbaSpray route, it could be done reasonably safely as follows : remove your children and pets from the area. Then spray the lawn with the recommended KarbaSpray solution. Within say 15-30 minutes the caterpillars will come to the surface, wriggle around there and die. After at least an hour you could thoroughly drench the whole area, washing remnants of KarbaSpray deep into the soil. You'd probably need to repeat this procedure after say two weeks to catch any remaining hatched worms. The only remaining risk would then be that your children or pets might eat one of the dead worms. But that would be about the same risk as a meteor falling on earth, and I very much doubt that the worm would have any dangerous level of KarbaSpray on it. I've also not personally seen cases of birds dying from eating KarbaSpayed worms. They are tough little blighters! You might of course have an objection to KarbaSpray being synthetic/non-natural and all the baggage that carries. Hope this helps you make a decision!
Mar 10 2014, 01:54 PM
Hi. I live in Cape Town and recently laid kikuyu lawn at my new house. The grass was growing fine up until a month or 2 ago. Now there are big patches of brown areas which is starting to die. There are also very dark brown patches forming. These areas are situated in the middle of the lawn, whereas the sides are still growing green. Can you please recommend what I should do?
Mar 13 2014, 04:07 PM
Please scroll down from here and have a look at my Response to a Question from Duncan. He also lives in Cape Town, and had a problem similar to yours with a newly laid Kikuyu lawn. In summary, Cape Town has had an extended period of very hot, dry and windy weather. Even lawns which are well fed and watered will take a battering from that kind of weather. I don't have pictures of your environment, but I know from personal experience that in the Summer the lawn will be greener wherever it gets the most shade (protection from the sun). Also, lawn caterpillar are very active in Cape Town during January-March, so you should test for their presence and spray with KarbaSpray if necessary. Probably though you will need to water well until the onset of Winter, perhaps throw a little pelletised organic fertiliser (Neutrog BladeRunner or SeaMungus, if you can take the smell for a day or two!) and then wait to see if the lawn greens up in Winter. Kikuyu is a very robust grass and is in fact very difficult to get rid of completely, so this should work in your favour. And generally, lawns which are well fed, watered and judiciously mowed are healthier and more disease resistant. As an afterthought, have you perhaps been mowing your lawn too short? It should be left longer in Summer to shelter the roots from the hot sun...
Mar 17 2014, 08:41 AM
Hi Rod. Thank you for the info. I'm not sure at what length my grass must be cut at, but i'm moving every 2 weeks during the summer. Strangely enough the grass infornt of my house is green without any problems, but the back yard is the problem area. The ground is quite hard from the clay and "koffieklip". Could this be contributing to the problem? Can the worms also be present in hard clay areas?
Jun 02 2014, 09:38 AM
So sorry it's taken so long for me to respond - I've been incapacitated since end of March. Lawn caterpillars hatch from eggs laid by a butterfly on the blades of the grass and they live in the root zone, not the soil (in your case clay). So, yes, they could be present in lawns, even those growing in hard clay soil. But it's quite likely that the hard soil itself is part of the problem. Unless you have a spiked roller, you would need to try to loosen up the soil by spiking the entire area with a large fork. Perhaps also spreading a layer of very finely sieved compost to introduce organic material into the clay. As I write this, we're well into Winter and it would be interesting to see if the rains in your area have improved the condition of your lawn. Generally lawns in the Western Cape green up nicely during the Winter!
Mar 01 2014, 05:46 PM
We have very thick kikuyu grass. How do we get it firmer under foot?
Mar 04 2014, 02:21 PM
One way would be to cut it a little bit shorter each time you mow. This would gradually reduce the thickness of the mat. But wherever in the country you live don't mow it so short as to expose the roots to the hot summer sun. The other way is to do successive light top dressings with either washed river sand or a mixture of river sand and fine compost. The end result should be to work more soil/compost into the spaces between the roots. Probably a combination of these two ways would produce best results.
Feb 20 2014, 11:11 AM
Hi Rod
We used to have a wonderful kikuyu lawn, but in October I topsoiled and over fertilised it (plus probably overwatered it) which is when the problems started. I first thought it was rust and have treated it with a spray every few weeks. It seems to stop the spread and the grass recovers, but within a few weeks it starts up again. The grass blades gets these brown spots on it, turns yellow and then very quickly dries and dies. And it's spreading very fast across the lawn.

On further investigation it might not be rust but leaf spot/melting out. What do you think?

Feb 05 2014, 05:17 PM

I am in the process of buying my first house, and I’m extremely excited… the plot that I’m buy is about 500 square meters and is in desperate need of grass. The previous owner made and sold cement blocks off the property. Now i'm stuck with a plot that has dead soil (dusty sand). Is there any way I can selvage this?
Feb 04 2014, 03:12 PM
Hi, We planted buffalo in November and now it is full of a spikey. tall. s grass looking weed! Too much of it to weed out by hand , what can we do to get rid of it .? Bergvliet
Feb 11 2014, 02:06 PM
I have visited your house and viewed the lawn. The tall spiky grass to which you refer is Nut Grass. It was most likely introduced together with the roll-on lawn, or it will have been present in lawn dressing if you at some stage top dressed your lawn. It is virtually impossible to eradicate by hand, especially when it has infested a large area, as is your case. Even if you pull out one weed it leaves long roots in the soil and from these more weeds will sprout. The recommended herbicide to combat Nut Grass is Basagran with active ingredient bendioxide. But do read the information insert in the Basagran box to establish if it can be used on Buffalo lawn - I don't have this information immediately to hand. *** eGardens now offers on-site consultation as well as landscaping services - see the eGardens website Home page ***
Jan 17 2014, 04:13 PM
Hi Rod
I had Kikuyu laid in my small back garden in Claremont (Cape Town) a month ago. Some parts are doing well others not so well. It seems to be doing better in the areas that get shade for part of the day. What watering instructions do your recommend and any other tips for a novice?
Thanks ...
Feb 11 2014, 03:17 PM
Firstly, you will know that Cape Town has had a prolonged spell of hot and windy weather. It's always better to lay roll-on lawn when the weather is cooler and there is a greater chance of rain. Secondly, it is said that even roll-on lawn takes at least two months to settle and put down roots into the soil below. So on both counts, you can't expect the Kikuyu to be at its best so soon. Also, it is very common (I've been seeing it on my daughter's Kikuyu lawn in Diep River!) for the grass to grow long and stay green wherever its gets shade, and for the rest of the lawn to be burnt brownish beige by the wind and sun. But Kikuyu is very robust, though a water guzzler and it will establish and recover given time. For now just water fairly regularly and deeply. Try to collect shower water etc. which would otherwise drain away and pitch that onto the lawn. Provided the water does not have too much soap in it e.g. waiting for the shower to get hot, washing vegetables etc. it is safe for the lawn. I wouldn't recommend fertilising the lawn now - rather wait until April or so when it begins growing actively again. And patience, patience......!
Jan 17 2014, 04:03 PM
Mandy van der Merwe
hi there,

i think my grass has fungus on it, there are tiny brown spots on the blades and the roots/underlayer of my grass is brown. What can we do, we have huge grass areas and 2 big dogs and active kids. is this something that can be treated patch by patch or all at once? What products should i use? i can send photos if that would help. i live in Kirstenhof, Cape Town.
Feb 06 2014, 10:30 AM
I apologise for the long delay in responding to your question : I've been inundated with questions and many require substantial research! You do not mention what type of lawn you have, but I assume it is Kikuyu as I have several times in the past seen brown spots on the blades of Kikuyu. I found a very good website which addresses lawn diseases and how to deal with them. I recommend that you take a look at it :
You will find that more often than not it is actions like over/under watering, over/under fertilising, mowing too short/long etc. which leads to weakening the lawn, making it less disease resistant and more susceptible to disease. Any one of these, plus specific weather conditions. Your best bet is to see, after looking at the website, if there is anything you are doing/not doing, and then to correct that. If you get all lawn maintenance activities correctly in place your lawn should recover. I recall from past experience that the "done thing" was to spray for "rust" on lawns, with a copper based herbicide, one containing copper oxychloride or copper sulphur. One of my books recommends Cupravit, Virikop, Komat Rust and Copper Sulphur. You could try the spraying approach as a supplementary measure, but my gut feel is that it will be proper lawn maintenance regime which will ultimately do the trick. Good luck!
Jan 12 2014, 08:01 PM
Hi Rod.

I am very glad to have found this website.

I live in Joburg and have a small garden with a nice little patch of lawn (about 25-30 sm of Kikuyu). So far this summer the lawn has looked brilliant but I have now seen that a fair amount of "thatch" has built up under some portions of the lawn. I think the lawnmover has been set too high. Perhaps I should have consulted you first but I decided to cut the lawn down very low (level 1) to remove the thatch. The lawn now looks very brown, but sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind (Is my thinking correct?). Is there anything else I should do, to help remove the thatch? (Fertilising, etc - I applied Bladerunner a few weeks back).

Also, I think I have been watering my lawn incorrectly. In the summer months and when not raining I have been watering every evening for about 10 minutes. I have now read on a few websites that infrequent deep watering is better. How do I differ the watering through the 4 Joburg seasons? My irrigation guy said Winter = Morning watering, Summer = Evening watering. Is that correct?


Jan 13 2014, 04:02 PM
I lived in Pretoria many years ago, for all of my youth - so I am somewhat familiar with conditions there. It was always common practice to "scarrify" (shave) Kikuyu lawns right at the end of Winter, when the lawn was pretty much dead, and ahead of warmer Spring weather. So I would say scarrifying your lawn in Summer probably damaged it, since the roots would have been exposed to the hot sun. The good news is that it takes a much greater effort than that to kill off Kikuyu! I also never liked a thick spongy mat, and always tended to keep my lawn on the short side. I suggest that you just keep on watering and occasionally feeding the lawn. Logic and experience tell me that it's always and at all times of the year better to water the lawn during the morning than the afternoon. Especially early morning, the water has a better chance of penetrating the soil before evaporating. Moisture on the grass blades during nighttime hours is a no-no, as humid conditions encourage leaf disease. And definitely, watering less frequently but for longer periods is the better choice - the water then gets right down to the deeper roots and has less chance of evaporating before doing its good work. Hope this helps you!
Jan 11 2014, 01:43 PM
I have recently laid a roll on Buffalo lawn approx 50 sqm in Oranjezicht. The area is fairly shady with early afternoon sun. Should it be cut to 60 mm or should I leave it to grow long in its first season? I have a flymo as the sods are still quite uneven and I didn't want to put a heavy roller on the new lawn. Kind regards Deborah
Jan 12 2014, 01:29 PM
Roll-on lawns typically remain "spongy" for a long while after being laid. Use of a roller would help to an extent but more commonly, successive applications of clean, washed river sand will help to firm up the mat of the lawn. Ultimately the roots of the Buffalo will compact the mat. It's vital that in the hot, dry, windy summer Cape Town months (say from November through to April) you maximise the length of the blades of grass. 60mm sounds good to me. The mat should always remain green in appearance and never be shaved right down to where the roots begin to show. I would definitely recommend a Flymo type mower. And lots of patience!
Jan 13 2014, 10:19 AM
Thank you Rod... lots of patience is probably the best advice! But in the meantime... we're off to buy some clean river sand. Kind regards Deborah
Jan 05 2014, 04:44 PM
I replaced a small lawn of buffalo grass with paving slabs and gravel when it died back because of being virtually shaved to the ground by my gardening service once too often. I want to go back to having a grass lawn for my grandchildren to play on but can't decide which grass to use this time. We live in the Tokai area, Cape Town. The soil is pretty poor. The area has all day sun in summer, partial light shade in a small area in winter. I've had kikuyu before (lot of work) and am a bit nervous to use buffalo again. Can't make up my mind which grass to use. Any suggestions, please?
Jan 05 2014, 09:41 PM
The problem is the garden service not the Buffalo! The latter is the correct choice for your new lawn, I believe. Instruct your garden service to cut your new lawn at their highest mower setting. Buffalo is hardy, much easier to maintain than Kikuyu and requires less water once established than Kikuyu. Since your lawn area is relatively small, spare no money or effort in preparing the area for planting. Use plugs rather than roll-on lawn, for a firmer and more smooth lawn. If you want faster coverage use more plugs per square meter than the basic recommendation. And make sure you water well in Cape Town's current hot weather conditions. The following website might help you in getting your new lawn going in the best way :
It's interesting that they recommend NOT using compost in the soil prior to planting. I learn something new each day! Hope this helps you!
Dec 30 2013, 08:50 AM
Hi Rod,
I've noticed some unusual white fungus on my LM lawn. It is isolated to one area of the lawn and appears in little patches within this area. The fungus looks like little white spots physically on the blades of the grass. I would appreciate any ideas as to what this may be and any suggestions on how to treat this condition. Thanks Mark.
Dec 30 2013, 05:25 PM
Your problem is difficult to diagnose without seeing the spots on the grass, and the lawn environment. Sounds like it could be powdery mildew, seen mostly in times of humid, warm days and cool nights, with excess moisture on the grass and little air flow. As a starter you could spray the affected areas with a product containing mancozeb, or other herbicide which is for powdery mildew. Longer term, resort to basic good health care : water during mornings, not afternoon/evening, neither over- nor under-fertilise the lawn, water deeply/infrequently rather than shallowly/frequently. A lawn cared for in this way will tend to resist diseases. You might wish to look at the following informative website : I do hope this at least gives you some guidance!
Dec 23 2013, 01:00 PM
Hallo Rod
I'm staying in Thabazimbi, My LM grass is getting a green/blue colour (only in the shaded areas) where after it stop growing and eventually dies, Theses blue patches spread quit quickly and resulted in a wide area of infected grass. I used Efekto Fungi-NIL 500WP but it did not work. Your expert help will be appreciated. Thank you
Dec 28 2013, 06:55 PM
LM Grass is well known for its ability to grow in shade – I've personally seen great examples of this. I did an Internet search to see if others have experienced your problem of the grass turning blue/green, then brown and then dying. The three causes the search came up with were : (1) drought stress (2) lack of potassium and (3) a fungal slime. Without actually seeing the blades of the grass its impossible for me to get a better feel for what might be the problem. So I'll resort to plain logic. The fact that a herbicide didn't solve the problem either means that you used a wrong herbicide for your specific disease problem or the problem isn't caused by a disease. The fact that the problem occurs only in shade must have some relevance. What is causing the shade? Are the shaded areas close to new building work where the soil might have been poisoned? Is the cause of the shade preventing rain water getting to the lawn underneath, resulting in drought stress? Are you watering at least every three days and deeply? Are you watering in the morning, rather than late in the day? - late watering leaves moisture on the blades of grass thereby encouraging disease. I would make a concerted effort to properly feed the lawn – a well fed and watered lawn should not be as vulnerable to disease if that is the cause of your problem. And supplying the lawn with appropriate nutrients is important – especially the potassium (that's the third figure in say 3:1:5). You could sprinkle something like Neutrog SeaMungus or Neutrog Blade Runner if you wish to use only organic (non-synthetic) fertilisers. I hope that something in my comments will ring the right bell for you!
Dec 07 2013, 11:52 AM
Hi Rod, thank you for the reply. Grass has grown a lot and is very green, it has been 3 weeks since it has been laid. when can we cut the grass please?
Dec 09 2013, 02:25 PM
It sounds as though your lawn is settling in well, so you can go ahead and cut it. Just remember that because (a) it is a newly-laid lawn and (b) it is now mid-summer, you should NOT mow it short - rather leave the blades of grass a little on the long side, to give the roots protection from the sun. At this stage the mower blades should NOT cut into the mat itself. If they do, then stop immediately and raise the mower's cutting height. Keep working on building up the soil around the roots of the grass until the lawn has a firm feel, and the wheels of your mower no longer sink into the lawn. Some people like a thick lawn mat, but I have always preferred working towards a firmer thinner mat in the long run. Hope this help you.....
Dec 06 2013, 11:16 PM
Hallo Rod,

I stay in Secunda on the Highveld of Mpumalanga. Our soil is black clay which is quite a challenge to work with. When dry, it is big lumps, when it is wet you find yourself in a rather sticky situation. I had some weed on the lawn, and got the advice last season to give it a good lime treatment to "choke" the weed - unfortunately the only thing that choked was the kikuyu. On a fairly large area (±3 square meters) this lime treatment seemed to have boosted the growth of white clover, which totally suppressed the kikuyu. I also had fence walls put up during winter, and there also the kikuyu took a beating with all the digging and working. I have hoped that the kikuyu would conquer the left over building gravel, but was disappointed again to find that creeping sorrel emerges victorious. What should the best treatment be to get my lawn back to good condition?
Dec 09 2013, 02:17 PM
I did some Internet research and found that weeds in a lawn are often the result of a pH imbalance in the soil. For the Kikuyu to grow healthily, the pH should be very slightly acidic, in the range 6.5 to 7.0 (the latter figure being "neutral" or "balanced"). So the recommendation given to you to put down lime was in recognition that your soil is too acidic (and lime then raises the pH). Other causes of poor lawn health are soil compaction, lack of water and insufficient fertilising. Probably you should try to aerate your soil with a fork or machine, then put down some finely sieved compost to fill the holes. If the weed problem is mainly in a 3 square meter area (this is fairly small and manageable), I suggest you hand-weed it, loosen the soil well, dig in compost and superphosphate, then plant some Kikuyu runners. And water well. Along your walls you'll probably find that there are remnants of cement which have caused a pH imbalance (this time too alkaline). I'd use the same procedure as above in these areas, and in addition use a sulphur based product to balance the pH level. You should be sure to rake, as well as is possible, the area next to the wall to remove as much cement debris as you can. Do have a look at the following website which has very good lawn care information : I hope this helps you!
Nov 18 2013, 07:40 PM
Hi Rod
We had roll on Kikuyu laid last week Friday, it rained well all weekend. We live in Milnerton, Cape Town. How often must we water and for how long? When can grass be rolled and when can we put top soil over. What fertilizer can we use and when please. Your expert help will be appreciated. Thank you.
Nov 21 2013, 10:42 AM
I assume that the landscaper or company who laid the Kikuyu sods first prepared the soil well, digging in some compost and superphosphate. Kikuyu sods are notorious for initially producing an uneven surface. This is generally because the sods themselves do not have an even distribution of soil around the roots. So the result can be a "spongy" lawn. The article to which this query is attached gives some feeding and watering advice, but here are my recommendations in summary. Cape Town summers are hot and dry, and your Kikuyu being waterholic will need regular watering. Perhaps twice a week with a sprinkler, for half an hour each time from September to April. You can feed with any fertiliser high in nitrogen. If you want to use synthetic fertiliser then LAN is the one (but you MUST water well after application to prevent burning the lawn). If you prefer an organic fertiliser,(and can stand the odour for a few days!) then try Neutrog Bladerunner. You can roll your new Kikuyu anytime your body says it needs some exercise! But do try to build up the soil between the roots first, as follows. Have a look at Master Organics Lawn Dressing - it is 50% each of fine compost and washed river sand. You should apply this, or just pure river sand in thin layers say every three weeks for a period of nine weeks. So you will be building up the soil slowly, never covering the sods completely. Repeat this again if necessary until your lawn feels firm. I hope this helps you somewhat!
Oct 17 2013, 09:58 PM
I live in Observatory Cape Town and my back garden is in Full sun and front garden partly morning sun afternoon shade which type of grass would you recommend.
Oct 22 2013, 12:23 PM
I'm assuming that you wish to plant a new lawn. I would recommend Buffalo Grass, which will grow in either sun or partial shade. If you later find that the Buffalo does not grow well in your front garden, then supplement it with LM Grass plugs. Two additional comments : (1) Using plugs rather than roll-on lawn generally gives a more even and firm lawn in the long run (though it will take a little longer to establish) and (2) I would generally not recommend Kikuyu Grass as it is invasive and requires much more water than Buffalo Grass to look good, particularly in the hot, dry and windy Cape Town summer. Just keep the newly planted lawn moist after planting and prepare the soil well prior to planting. Good luck!
Oct 15 2013, 09:44 PM
Hi. I'm from Kzn and have recently had sods laid. Grass type is LM and the soil was le elled and topsoil added before the instant lawn laid. We were very excited and played all day on the new lawn with our kids.have watrred everyday but are now seeing brown patches and uneven spots of ground. Lawn is 5 days old, pls help.
Oct 16 2013, 01:01 PM
The probable reason why your LM lawn is not yet growing well is that the roll-on sods when lifted for delivery to you would have had its roots cut/disturbed. It may also have been allowed to dry out. LM Grass is not nearly as robust and quick growing as say Kikuyu so will have suffered some "root shock". I trust that the company laying your lawn would have loosened the ground, and dug in some compost and/or superphosphate prior to laying the sods? Your best bet now is to top dress with some good quality top soil (do this lightly but several times over a period of days, and then water well). This will ensure that there is moist soil around the roots within the sods. And do be patient - 5 days is too little time to expect LM Grass to establish its new root system. Don't worry about the brown patches - just keep the whole lawn moist. With LM Grass your patience should be well rewarded!
Oct 07 2013, 09:45 PM
Hello - I live close to Kirstenbosch so close to the mountain - my area is covered by trees so quite a bit of shade but there is enough sun only late afternoon quite shady. I am looking to plant a waterwise lawn but want softness as well. Is LM berea a good choice? Thanks
Oct 08 2013, 09:14 AM
Yes, LM Grass or Berea is your best chance of success. I've seen it growing in Cape Town under trees in quite deep shade and it looked really healthy, full and "fluffy" green. Do what you can to lightly fork some compost into the soil before you plant, even though there might be tree roots present. The Kirstenbosch area has a wonderful micro-climate, with probably more rainfall than most other places on the Peninsula, so you can be naturally waterwise. The other lawn choice for shaded areas would be Wonderlawn but that would not satisfy your requirement for "softness".
Oct 08 2013, 09:22 AM
Hello Rod - thanks for the response
Oct 06 2013, 06:55 PM
Can we still grass in October in cape town
Oct 07 2013, 10:35 AM
Yes, from October is the best time for planting lawn grass in Cape Town. Do look at the other responses under this article - in particular the one to Troy around 12/13 August. Although it refers to Buffalo Grass, the principles are the same if you will be planting Kikuyu Grass. Just remember to keep the lawn area moist once you have planted, as weather becomes hotter and more dry here in the Western Cape as summer unfolds.
Sep 29 2013, 06:25 PM
I water and fertilse my lawn its green but does not creep kikuyi grass has patches
Sep 30 2013, 09:04 AM
You do not mention in which province you live or soil conditions there. Also, if there is any other lawn grass e.g. Kweek inhibiting the spreading of the Kikuyu. But Kikuyu should grow virtually anywhere, and it spreads so rapidly that in some countries it is a declared invader. I would recommend two actions : (1) give the bare patches of soil where the Kikuyu is not growing a light dressing of well broken down compost or manure and fork it in lightly and (2) get hold of some Kikuyu plugs or rooted runners from friends and plant them into the bare patches. Then water well and since we are now moving into Spring/Summer this should encourage your Kikuyu to spread. The challenge for most gardeners is usually to STOP the Kikuyu from spreading everywhere, including flower beds, so your situation is quite unique! Good luck!
Sep 19 2013, 10:05 AM
Our gardener used Roundup on the Kikuyu grass. Unfortunately the grass is starting to yellow. Can I save the grass by using 'Bounce back'.?
Sep 19 2013, 12:20 PM
Oh dear! Not the first time this has happened! The bad news is that Roundup is used to kill off anything onto which it is sprayed, or onto which the spray drifts e.g. weeds growing in paths, driveways etc. The good news is that Kikuyu is very difficult to get rid of, even when sprayed with Roundup. Kikuyu has very deep roots (sometimes to 1m) and so your lawn though set back, should recover in time. To maximise recovery try to dilute the Roundup as much as possible, and wash it off the blades of grass by thoroughly soaking the lawn several times. Bounce Back won't "save" the lawn, but it will help to enhance the growth of the remaining and new runners. You just need to be patient - I think your lawn will return to its previous state given time.
Sep 19 2013, 12:31 PM
Thank you so much for your response!
Sep 14 2013, 10:12 AM
just want to know what feed do i throw on LM.
Sep 19 2013, 11:21 AM
You can have a look at my reply below to Carel Venter of Groblersdal. I think that generally we should avoid synthetic fertilisers and rather use organic fertilisers. So you can apply processed or pelletised poultry manure e.g. Neutrog Blade Runner. Or you can apply finely sieved well broken down compost or manure. The latter, being properly mineralised will immediately provide nutrients to your lawn. Give the above a try!
Sep 13 2013, 08:52 AM
Carel Venter
I want to level out my Lawn. Can I put top dressing on LM Grass. I stay in The Groblersdal area.

My lawn is about 3 years old but never get that deep green ("blue") healthy colour even with lots of water and fertilizer Any suggestions
Sep 19 2013, 11:08 AM
You can top dress your LM Grass. If your lawn is very uneven, requiring a lot of dressing, then the trick is apply several layers over a period of time, waiting for the grass to grow through (if covered completely the grass might rot). LM Grass is a "fluffy" grass, should be bright green and never grows very densely like Kikuyu. No problem in applying fertiliser and watering well, as you have done. Without knowing what your soil is like (might be builder's rubble , clay or rock underneath) I would try applying an organic fertiliser like Neutrog Blade Runner or similar. But being poultry manure based, this fertiliser has a strong odour and might offend your neighbors. As an alternative, you could feed with either old manure or compost, well broken down (properly mineralised) and finely sieved. Give the above a try and see if your lawn perks up!
Aug 26 2013, 06:54 AM
Sandra Payne
We have small patch of lawn and my husband wanted it as a putting green so late year we planted Golf green. We live in Pretoria East. Despite he mild winter we have mostly brown lawn with quite a bit of water grass weed in it.
What is the best dressing and fertilizer to use please.

Thank you,

Sandra Payne
Sep 19 2013, 12:45 PM
*** I replied to your query weeks ago but my comments somehow didn't make it onto the eGardens website - so sorry! ***. I grew up in Pretoria so I know the conditions there quite well! Winters are pretty cold at night even if you don't have frost. Lawns are more or less dormant until warmer weather from September onwards. So don't expect miracles right now! I had a friend here in Cape Town who built a putting green for himself, and he completed the project successfully under the guidance of a greenkeeper from one of the local golf courses. I would definitely recommend that you find a greenkeeper to consult – these people are almost always very friendly and helpful. He will give you specific advice on your type of grass, as greenkeeping is very much a speciality skill. Talking off the cuff I would (a) use fine washed river sand as a dressing to avoid introducing any more weed (b) dress the green very thinly to avoid the grass rotting underneath, repeated several times (c) be very careful not to burn the grass with high nitrogen artificial fertiliser (d) water very well and deeply to ensure moisture and to minimise fertiliser burn and (e) seek advice about the correct spray to use to remove what you call winter weed (is this what we call Winter Grass Poa annua down here?) – visit your local nursery and read the herbicide's information insert. My gut feel is that warmer weather together with sufficient watering and judicial fertiliser use might produce good results for you. Be patient, and good luck!
Aug 12 2013, 04:35 PM
Hi. i have just bought a house in Plumstead cape town. i want to plant buffalo grass but i don' t know when the best time to do it is. any suggestions when i should put the grass in
Aug 13 2013, 09:41 AM
Buffalo lawn grass growers say " wait until you can wear short pants before planting"! So (excluding those who never wear short pants and those who wear them in mid winter) the best time to plant Buffalo in the Western Cape is from September, but preferably delay planting until October. The main reasons are that Buffalo is largely dormant during the cold and wet winter season and there tends to be much more weed growth at this time. Buffalo awakens and begins to grow with the onset of the warmer weather of early summer. Remember to follow the planting instructions for Buffalo lawn grass, whether plugs or roll-on. Good luck!
Aug 05 2013, 07:21 PM
Richard Morris
I feel that the information on control of Lawn fungus and Mole Cricket are a little old fashioned when there are superb products available to control both. The fact that a client has the option of systemic and contact fungicides is very important to detail in your advice as systemic will reduce the onset of fungus while contact is essential to stop it in its tracks. the incorrect use of a systemic when a contact should be applied shall result in a delayed control of fungus and even possibly the entire loss of a lawn. one should be careful when generalising and if I could suggest spell it out for clients to make up their own mind.
Aug 06 2013, 03:55 PM
Thank you for your valid suggestion. We will include the essence of your comment in the article. We wondered about the reference to mole cricket as we do not find those words in the article?
Aug 01 2013, 04:37 PM
J. Theron
We live in Knysna, Western Cape.
We have a very large area we would like to cover with grass.

How do we know what is the best grass to plant for our CLIMATE?
The area is mostly full sun. We want an evergreen type of grass. The soil is very sandy.

Hope to hear from you soon!
Aug 02 2013, 02:13 PM
We would recommend Buffalo grass because it is tolerant of sandy soil, is a non-invasive grass, takes medium traffic, grows well in sunny areas and once established requires only moderate watering. Depending on whether you would like instant lawn coverage or whether you are prepared to wait for 4 to 5 months for reasonable coverage (assuming you plant at the beginning of Spring) you should use either roll-on lawn or plugs. It would be important to follow the correct planting and care instructions for the lawn to grow successfully. See this link for these instructions:


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