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REQUIREMENTS FOR HEALTHY TURF

For those new to lawn care, here’s an overview of the basic requirements for good, healthy turf.

There are some fundamental requirements for healthy turf, other than keeping the lawn free of weeds, insect pests and disease. However, it is important to remember that these requirements will vary depending on the turf variety and the season.

Sunlight

Grass needs sunlight in order to photosynthesise. However, some varieties are more tolerant of shade such as zoysia and buffalo (buffalo will also tolerate full sun), whilst others need more sun (couch and kikuyu). However, shade/sun tolerance does not necessary correlate with tolerance of drought; zoysia and couch are probably considered the most drought-tolerant varieties.

Water

Cool season grasses have a higher water requirement than warm season grasses, but all turf generally needs a lot of water. However, watering early in the morning rather than evening will help avoid increasing fungal diseases and watering less frequently for longer periods is better than regular light watering to encourage deep root growth. Although grass needs water, it also requires good drainage to ensure an air/ water balance within the root zone.

Nutrients

Grass needs balanced soil nutrients in order to thrive. Application of fertilisers is a good option for optimal growth, especially in nutrient-poor, sandy soils. For best results apply fertilisers during the growing season.

Mowing

Grass thrives with regular mowing. However, the frequency of mowing and height of cut will depend on the turf variety and rate of growth – the last thing you want to do is cut the lawn too short and ‘scalp’ the grass.

Maintenance

There are three additional maintenance activities that will improve the health of a lawn:

Aeration: Using an aeration device to punch holes into the soil pro le to a depth of 15 centimetres (often a garden fork will do), will help improve oxygen supply and drainage.

Top dressing: Adding a suitable top dressing during the growing months will help even out any uneven areas, decompose thatch (decomposing old grass material) and assist in surface drainage.

Scarifying the lawn: Removing excess thatch will return a thick, spongy lawn to a green, tight knit surface. Carry out every 1-2 years to maximise lawn performance.

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