GREENER PAS­TURES

Spring tasks for a lovely lawns that last.

Go Gardening - - Lawns -

Spring on its own is a tonic for lawns. Ris­ing tem­per­a­tures and spring rains en­cour­age lush green growth. But there is more to last­ing good looks than keep­ing up with mow­ing. En­gag­ing in a few timely tricks will make it eas­ier to keep your lawn look­ing good for longer.

FEED

Ev­ery time we mow we are re­mov­ing nu­tri­ents. It is im­por­tant to re­place those nu­tri­ents es­pe­cially dur­ing strong spring growth. A wellfed lawn not only looks more lush and green, the strong growth will out­com­pete weeds. Ni­tro­gen is what a lawn needs most for that lush green growth, but a good lawn food con­tains the cor­rect pro­por­tions of ni­tro­gen and other es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents such as phos­pho­rus for healthy root growth and potas­sium for dis­ease re­sis­tance. Choose a con­trolled re­lease fer­tiliser and ap­ply small amounts at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals to avoid wastage and leach­ing. For a new lawn, choose a prod­uct suit­able for young grass and ap­ply it at the rec­om­mended rate.

BAN WEEDS AND PRICKLES

Broadleaf weeds (non-grasses) are un­sightly in­ter­rup­tions in a smooth green car­pet. Re­move them be­fore they get too big. Spe­cial ‘grub­ber’ hand tools make it easy. For an eas­ier rem­edy, es­pe­cially if you have a lot of weeds, ask at your gar­den cen­tre for a se­lec­tive her­bi­cide, which kills the weeds with­out harm­ing the grass.

If you have prickles in your lawn, the time to act is in spring be­fore the One­hunga weed sets its seed and while lawns are ac­tively grow­ing. Yates Prickle Weed­killer con­trols One­hunga weed with­out killing the lawn.

AERATE

Re­duc­ing com­paction makes a huge dif­fer­ence to lawns, es­pe­cially in high use ar­eas. Aer­at­ing the lawn al­lows more air and water to get to the roots. This is ide­ally done ev­ery spring when the soil is moist but not soak­ing wet. Us­ing a gar­den fork to punch holes or walk­ing over your lawn with a pair of lawn aer­a­tor san­dals can make a dif­fer­ence. For very com­pact lawns, how­ever, core aer­a­tion is the best way to re­lieve com­paction. This process uses an ‘aer­a­tor’ ma­chine to com­pletely re­move small plugs of grass and soil. Core aer­a­tors are avail­able from hire cen­tres.

OVER-SOW

To re­pair bare patches it is im­por­tant to pre­pare the ground first so that the seed can make good con­tact with the soil. Mow the lawn short and then use a hard steel rake to re­move thatch and cre­ate shal­low grooves in the soil ready for sow­ing. For ex­tra as­sur­ance, sprin­kle over some weed­free com­post. Then scat­ter the seed and water gen­tly us­ing a wa­ter­ing can. Water as nec­es­sary to keep the seed bed moist.

Hol­lows and sunken ar­eas that have a good cover of turf may be reme­died with­out sow­ing any seed: Cut and peel back a sec­tion of turf and fill un­der­neath with top­soil or lawn mix. Care­fully re­place the turf and water thor­oughly.

Sally Brown's Dunedin gar­den

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