Get That Landscaped Expanse of Lush Green Lawn
Nothing contributes quite as much to the appearance of the garden landscape as a lush expanse of well maintained lawn.
As the very foundation of a beautiful garden, a lawn enhances the appearance of the home while creating a tranquil foil for trees, shrubs and flowers.
A lawn provides a soothing, green, outside recreation area for adults, children and pets while reducing dust in our hot, dry climate.
It is advisable to keep the lawn to a size that can easily be maintained, as a small well kept lawn will do far more to beautify the home than a large, unkempt expanse of grass.
If the area in question is quite large, or very shady, consider using paving or gravel in conjunction with a smaller lawn when landscaping your garden.
Preparing the ground
Before planting your lawn it is worth spending time to prepare the area thoroughly as this will be a permanent feature of the garden landscape.
Dig over the soil to a depth of approximately 20 - 25cm and remove any rubble or stones. Loosen the soil really well and dig in compost and fertiliser. A good general fertiliser such as 2.3.2 should be applied at the rate of 100gr per square metre.
Rake again to remove any remaining stones and to level the whole area. Give the entire area a thorough, regular watering for a few weeks to allow any weeds to develop. Eliminate these by turning the soil lightly on hot days so that the roots of the weeds are exposed to the sun. Once the weeds have stopped germinating, rake once more and the area is ready for planting.
Roll on or instant lawn: This is the most expensive method but is quick and easy and will deliver immediate results. Roll on lawn can be laid at any time of the year. The grass types most commonly available as roll on lawn are Cynodon dactylon (Bermuda), a fine leafed, runner type grass; Penisetum clandestinum (Kikuyu), a tough, fast growing, coarse leafed runner grass; Stenotaphrum secundatum (Buffalo) a broad leafed, slower growing runner grass for warmer areas with well drained sandy soils and Dactylocenium australe (LM Berea grass) that has better shade tolerance than the grasses mentioned above. It is the recomended choice if you have to plant lawn grass in shadier areas. Please set your lawn mower to the maximum height setting when cutting grass in the shadier areas of your garden. The lawn grass needs extra leaf area to absorb enough light to grow successfully.
Plugs and runners: Growing a lawn from plugs or runners is less expensive but more time consuming as the area needs to be planted by hand and the lawn takes longer to establish itself. The best time to plant plugs or runners is in spring and early summer. Broad leafed grasses such as Penisetum clandestinum (Kikuyu) will cover an area quite quickly when kept well watered while the finer grasses such as Cynodon dactylon (Bermuda) will take a little longer. Use Dactylocenium australe (LM Berea grass) if planting grass in the shadier areas of your garden. Stenotaphrum secundatum (Buffalo) would be the grass to use in the sunnier areas in conjunction with LM Berea because the leaf shape and size of the two grasses is similar.
Seed: Although seed is the most inexpensive option, it will take quite some time to establish a lawn and the area will need to be well watered daily, until the seed has germinated and the grass is growing strongly. Seed should be sown in spring or early summer. There are a number of grass seeds available; these include Poa praetensis (Kentucky blue grass), All Seasons Evergreen, Evergreen Mixture and Shade Over. Kweek seedlings will take about 10 to 12 days to germinate.
Selecting the right grass
It is most important to choose a grass species that will do well in your area taking into account the prevailing conditions such as rainfall, frost, drought, wind and shade. Country wide, Kikuyu and Kweek are the most popular but both require regular watering while the slower growing Buffalo is more water wise making it perfect for the drier regions.
Shady areas: For grass to grow well in shady areas the soil needs to be well dug over and generous amounts of compost should be added. The grasses that will give the best results in shade are the various Agrostis species, Kentucky blue grass, Shade Master and Shade Over. All these can be grown from seed.
Frosty areas: If you wish to have a lush green lawn throughout winter in frosty regions, a popular option is to sow All Seasons Evergreen or Evergreen Mixture over your existing lawn.
Coastal areas: The best choice for coastal areas is Buffalo as this grass will withstand the hot, dry and windy conditions. Another option is Sea Green which is also a water wise, drought tolerant grass that can withstand salt spray but is not always easy to obtain.