Mid March is traditionally known in the garden world as the best time to start a new lawn or repair and reseed an existing one. While the ground is still quite warm from the summer heat, the shorter days, cooler nights and heavier autumn dews make it much easier to keep the soil moist.
Warm, moist soil means fast germination of the grass seed. If these fine blades can be kept alive until the autumn rains return the lawn will develop quickly and will be beautifully established by spring. When creating a new lawn, first remove all weeds either with a commercial or organic spray or by cultivation.
Then cultivate deeply until the ground is reduced to a fine tilth. This is important because the young grass blades need a fine seed bed in which to germinate and must penetrate the soil deeply with their fine roots. The deeper the roots go, the stronger and more drought resistant the lawn will become.
Once the land is cultivated, whiten the ground with a commercial lawn food. Blood and bone, or finely pulverised, aged manure (weed free) can also be added. The lawn seed is then broadcast as evenly as possible over the surface. This can be done with a hired commercial seed spreader or by hand.
The best way to achieve even coverage is to mark the lawn out into parallel lines. Then mark out another set of parallel lines at 90 degrees to the first creating a checkerboard. Divide the lawn seed in half. Spread one half along the first set of lines and the other half on the other set of lines.
When sowing use a sweeping motion with the hand spreading the seed from side to side as you move down the line. This will ensure an even coverage of the seed. Then thoroughly rake in the seed and fertiliser. Water in well.
From that point on, the new lawn must be kept constantly moist but not wet, otherwise the young blades will wither and die or become weak and diseased. Where watering is a problem, the entire area can be covered lightly with a mulch which will shade the soil and retain it’s moisture.
Straw is excellent for this purpose as are dried grass clippings or spoiled hay provided these are relatively weed free. For truly professional results the entire area should be rolled when the seed is first raked in and again once the area is looking green.
The new lawn can be mowed with a catcher once the blades reach 8-10cm. Reduce the mowing height as it matures. Old lawns should be mowed quite closely, then heavily raked to remove weeds, course runners and dead thatch. Then mow again to either mulch this debris back into the lawn or to remove it. Holes and dips can be filled in with a sandy, weed-free soil.
Then spread the seed and fertiliser as for a new lawn and keep well watered. For small repair jobs try the new Yates Lawn Repair Kit. This uses mulched, recycled paper imbedded with seed and fertiliser which can be spread directly on the problem spot. In droughty site fescue, brown top and durable rye grasses are best.
For a brilliant, low maintenance, green velvet lawn in soils that stay relatively moist all year try the hardy, dwarf perennial rye grasses sold as “Mow-It-Less”.
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