The lawn usually makes up for the largest part of most home gardens; a lush green one though complements the whole house and makes the rest of your outside area look neat. As much as the spring/summer season is meant to be the absolute best time of the year to enjoy your lawn, it can easily be the death of it.
During this season, grass undergoes the most stress: drought and hot temperatures, increased traffic from pets and kids, braais and barbecues, insects, and other garden related diseases. Combined, all these factors can cause more wear and tear to lawns. So, how do you keep your grass green in the summer?
Follow this guide from Johanita Corbett, Buyer: Garden Nursery and Plants at Builders to discover the secret to a perfect lawn. Builders is the leader in DIY and home improvement solutions. They offer an extensive range of competitively priced garden products, and their stores have a large garden centre display for all your gardening needs.
Preparation is everything
Scarifying to remove any dead, matted grass on your lawn is the best place to start. Remove the thatch using a lawnmower set on low to cut away at least half of the dead grass. Rake and remove the remaining lower levels of thatch until there is only a sparse covering of old dead grass. Aerate heavy clay soils and lawn with a garden fork or a hollow tined fork to improve drainage and reduce water logging problems. Apply lawn dressing – a sterilised mixture of soil and compost – to fill in any holes and even out the lawn.
Note: Never scarify bunch-type, cool season, evergreen grasses.
Dealing with the weeds
The best approach is to take care of weeds early and often by pulling them manually or using a weeding fork. You can also apply a selective broadleaf herbicide to remove unwanted weeds. To treat a larger area, try applying weed killer by “painting” it onto the entire affected area. Always read and follow the label and make sure that the product is suitable for your grass type.
Feed your lawn good nutrients to keep it nourished
A good feed with a lawn fertiliser not only makes the grass greener but also makes it grow thicker, and increases its strength and vigour, boosting its ability to compete against weeds. Fertilising your lawn during the summer is one way of ensuring that it has all the necessary nutrients to stay nourished. Nevertheless, be careful not to leave the clippings where the lawn is too thick as it could lead to the formation of moulds especially as you are still watering it. Rake up the clippings and mow over them again to make them finer and spread them over your lawn.
Summer Damage? Rejuvenate
Just as other plants in your garden, your lawn behaves differently during each season. Every year, up to a quarter of the grass in the lawn can die, more after a cold or wet winter. Now is the best time to revive your lawn, or overseed – sowing new grass seed into the existing lawn to bring it back to life. Rejuvenation improves the lawn’s appearance, and by increasing the density of the grass you will also reduce weed invasion.
Follow a strict mowing schedule
The most important way to maintain an immaculate lawn is with correct and regular mowing. During its growth phase, you should cut the grass on a weekly basis, or more frequently as the weather warms up. The aim is to keep it at the same height all through spring and summer. For most lawns, this should be about 2.5-4 cm high. For lawns that take a lot of wear and tear, the height is better raised to 5cm. For very shaded areas, mow at a height of 7.5 cm. Mowing too short will weaken the grass and is the quickest and easiest way of allowing weeds to become established, which destroys the lawn.
Taking care of summer pests
Problems with insects or disease are more likely to arise in the warmer months. These problems might cause brown spots in your grass that do not go away with regular watering. Start treating in October and continue until April. Carry out a pest control regime on a regular basis so that destructive insects don’t reach a point where they destroy your lawn completely. Change the insecticide frequently to prevent pests from building up a resistance to any one type.
In closing, if you stick to the above programme and build a routine from it you will be able to keep a healthy lawn right into winter. Visit the Builders website or a store near you for further assistance with any garden queries or advice.
Recommended product list available from Builders:
**Please ensure to read the warning labels of chemicals and keep them safely stored away from children and pets.
● To prepare: Fertilise with Wonder Vitaliser Lawn & Leaf Bio-Carbon Green Boost 7:1:3 (15) + C (8) SR. For a lawn dressing use the Garden Master Lawndressing.
● For weeds: Efekto Hormoban APM and Efekto Turfweeder 457,5 SL can be mixed and sprayed over the lawn using an Efekto pressure sprayer. Efekto No-Weed Lawn RTU is a convenient and handy ready-to-use product for broadleaf weeds. Efekto’s granular herbicide, Efekto Snapshot, is easy to use for the control of pre-emergent weeds. Apply evenly at a rate of 15-20 g per m² and water afterwards. Buffalo grass is sensitive to many herbicides but Efekto Banweed MCPA is safe to use on buffalo lawns.
● Fertilizer choice: Wonder Vitaliser Lawn & Leaf Bio-Carbon Green Boost 7:1:3 (15) + C (8) SR is an ideal fertiliser to use on all grass types. If you’d rather use an organic fertiliser, Wonder Organic Granular Fertiliser Vita-Boost + C (8) promotes healthy and optimal growth, improves the structure and moisture retention of the soil, and encourages microbial activity in the soil.
● Overseeding: You can overseed with any of the Garden Master grass seeds. For shaded areas under trees, where many other grasses would struggle, use Mayford Shade Over Lawn Seed. For reasonably shaded areas, use Mayford LM (Berea) Lawn Seed. Good preparation is key when laying a new lawn or overseeding an area. Mixing Wonder 2:3:2 (14) + C (8) SR Bio-Carbon Boost into the soil will encourage root and foliage growth.
● Treating insects: In terms of mole crickets, Efekto Plant Protector should be directed towards young nymphs. Start treating early on more vulnerable nymphs. This is more effective than later treatments on larger mole crickets. White grubs, the larvae of chafer beetles, are common pests. Larvae feed on turf roots, causing brown, dead patches of lawn. The larvae feed from early December through mid-autumn and again in the spring. You can treat the area preventatively or curatively by sprinkling Efekto Bexadust and watering afterwards. Lawn caterpillars feed on your grass, causing ugly brown patches. To confirm a lawn caterpillar infestation, place a wet towel on your lawn overnight. If there are caterpillars clinging to the underside of the towel the next morning, you’ll know what the cause is. Treat with Wonder 4:1:1 (24) Granular Fertiliser + Insecticide, Efekto Eco Insect Control SC or Efekto Cypermethrin 200EC.