A lush green carpet of turf can be the jewel of your landscape. But if yours is looking less than lovely, here are some of the most common problems and how to fix them.
Your choice of lawn seed depends on the look you’re after and the level of maintenance you can provide. Cool-season grasses, like fescue, perennial rye and Kentucky bluegrass, are finer in texture than warm-season grasses, and don’t spread aggressively. As such, they aren’t considered to be as durable as couch, kikuyu or buffalo. However, these warm-season grasses can invade neighbouring areas or garden beds. “Both have their pros and cons, so just make sure your choice aligns with the level of time you want to spend on lawn care,” says Ian Thompson of Munns.
A quality mower is essential for a tidy and healthy lawn. “Consider the size of your lawn, how much power is required, and how ergonomic it is to handle and adjust,” says horticulturist Matt Carroll of Hortiman. The main types are electric, battery-powered and petrol. Electric and battery-powered models are great for small spaces, but if you have a larger area or need to navigate more serious terrain, petrol is the answer. It does need to be refuelled and maintained more regularly, but it’ll save time and effort in the long run.
Thinning areas may have resulted from wear and tear, overzealous weeding or pest and disease issues. “For cool-season grasses like fescue and rye, tease the damaged area with the tips of a garden fork, sprinkle lawn seeds over and water regularly,” says Ian. Warm-season grasses, like buffalo and kikuyu, run and spread, so with the right care they will eventually grow and establish in the bare patches. “To encourage new growth, rake the soil in bald patches, feed the entire lawn and water regularly,” adds Ian.
It’s important to find the root cause before attempting to fix it. Ian advises digging a hole. “If it’s difficult to dig, it may be a sign your lawn is compacted, so try aerating it,” he says. If you find curl grubs you’ll need to apply an insecticide, or if the soil is dry, use a wetting agent. “These are simple solutions, but if they don’t help, contact an expert to assess further,” says Ian.
Be careful when treating weeds in the lawn, warns Matt. “Look for selective lawn herbicides, as they’re formulated to target certain weeds without harming the lawn.” Not all weeds can be controlled by a selective lawn weed killer, though. “Keeping the lawn thick and healthy – feeding, watering, and mowing – will help reduce the presence of weeds,” says Matt.
Regular watering is important, so if you struggle to find the time to water, consider a sprinkler. Connect it to a tap timer, set and forget, but do check on the current water restriction status with your local authority. “After prolonged dry periods, it’s not uncommon for soils to become ‘hydrophobic’ or water repellent,” says Ian. A wetting agent will help water penetrate the soil and get to the roots, where it’s needed most.
Check out our easy guide on how to weed your lawn.
Photo Credit: Brigid Arnott, Getty Images, Larnie Nicolson