Planting a new lawn
Planting a new lawn from seed is a great, cost-effective way to establish the lawn you want. It is also an easy and effective means of filling in gaps or bare patches of an existing lawn after weeds have been removed. The best time of year to plant a new lawn by seed is in the Spring or Autumn; some varieties can be grown in either season, whereas others are better sown in only one of those seasons. It is important to prepare the soil well before planting to ensure successful establishment and therefore a good lawn long-term.
Preparing the seed bed
Eradicate weeds by using a glyphosate-based non-residual spray, ensuring to follow the directions on the label carefully. Remove all large rocks and debris that may be in the area. Clay type soils should have medium grade sand added to a depth of 5cm, as well as gypsum soil conditioner at a rate of 1kg/2m2 spread evenly. These should be incorporated by rotary hoeing them together into the soil.
Alternatively rake and roll the area. High spots should be evened off and low areas filled in until the area is level and firm. Lawn grasses need firm, but not compacted soil, with good surface drainage. A good gauge of firmness is that footprints should not be deeper than 1cm. Final levels should be approximately 1-2cm below pathways.
If an irrigation system is to be installed, this should be done prior to seeding as it is much easier to do on bare ground than cutting through lawn.
Rake the surface into straight lines to make shallow furrows. Broadcast seed evenly over the seed bed by hand or with a spreader, then lightly cross with a rake. Water the area with a fine spray and keep the topsoil moist for the first 15 days to complete germination. When germination is complete, reduce the number of watering’s but increase the volume of water of each watering.
The first mowing of the new lawn should be done when seedlings are approximately 5-6cm high, even if it is a partial mow and other sections are done later. To keep lawn in maximum condition, mow only the first 1cm. Mow regularly and keep mower blades sharp to keep the lawn healthy.
At about 6-8 weeks following seeding, apply a fertiliser that is high in nitrogen followed by a regular fertiliser and maintenance program throughout the year to sustain optimum growth.
What to plant
Water saver is a unique blend of two types of fescue which provide really good year-round colour. It is the most popular option for those not wanting a lawn that puts out runners. Water Saver lawns can be planted in either autumn or spring.
Its key features include:
- Tolerant of saline conditions
- Less watering required
- Heat tolerant
- Lush evergreen turf
- Shade tolerant
- Will not creep into garden beds
This blend is best sown at a rate of 70g/m2, therefore 7kg of seed sows 100m2.
Corsica is a stoloniferous variety of perennial ryegrass. It is ideal for a range of lawns and uses. It forms dense runners in its first winter, allowing it to regenerate on its own and self-repair damaged areas. This makes it best suited to an Autumn sowing. Its key features include:
- High visual merit, dark green colour
- Universal usages
- Hard wearing
- High shoot density
- Good leaf spot resistance
It should be sown at a rate of 3.5-4.5kg/100m2 if hand sowing. Although it germinates quickly, the spread is slower. Higher seeding rate of 15-20kg/100m2 can be used to obtain complete cover in a shorter time.
Kikuyu is one of the best drought tolerant, low maintenance lawns and can handle most conditions. It is extremely hardy and enjoys full sun. It is a creeper by nature, being most active in summer. This makes it suited to being sown in Spring. Its key features include:
- Very drought tolerant
- Strong, deep root base
- Dormant during winter
- Tolerates full sun
- Easy to establish
The higher the seeding rate, the quicker the lawn will cover. Sow at a rate of 5-10g/m2.
Dichondra repens is a low growing plant that performs best in shady conditions. It rarely needs mowing and has excellent disease tolerance. This makes it ideal for a low maintenance lawn. Its key features include:
- Excellent shade tolerance
- Ideal for steep banks
- Less mowing required
- Excellent disease tolerance
- Frost and drought tolerant once established
This species is ideal for areas with limited sunlight or limited access to a lawnmower. It should be sown at a rate of 1kg/100m2.