What a beautiful time of the year it is. Spending time outdoors is just marvellous; the days are warm and the nights are not as chilly but I am sure we will have one last cold snap before spring and summer sets in.
It is pretty amazing how climate change is affecting our plants. Roses are still flowering profusely, jasmine has started to bloom much earlier this year and many trees have started pushing out their new buds already. But before the mad rush to garden centres around South Africa to buy those spring seedlings sets in, there is still quite a lot to do in the garden in August. To those of you who have lawns and to those of you who just enjoy having picnics on lawns, here are some hot tips for what you should be doing to your lawn so that it looks perfect in the summer months.
Firstly you need to assess what lawn you have? Is it a bunch or runner type of lawn? Bunch grasses will grow in small clumps whereas runners spread and creep over areas by means of runners. Do you have Kikuyu, Evergreen All Seasons, Shade Over, LM, Bermuda or Gulf Green? Each lawn has different growing patterns, some you mow higher and others should be cut much lower.
Bermuda, Kikuyu, LM, and Gulf Green have runners , whereas All Seasons and Shade over are the bunch type.
August is the best time to prepare your lawn for the summer months, the best treatment for runner types of lawn is either by means of scarification or by top dressing your lawns with lawn dressing. Scarification is a process where your remove all the lawn blades (leaves) to the roots, thus leaving the roots bare. Scarification is not necessary every year. I would only recommend it if your lawn has a thatch or mat build up.
Thatch is a tightly intermingled layer of dead lawn leaves and living stems or roots that develop between the green vegetation and the soil level. Mat is the organic layer below the thatch, it is often darker in colour and tends to be a bit moist. Lawn that is poorly managed and not maintained weekly will develop a thick mat layer under the thatch.
Scarification is a tough job, I recommend asking a professional to do it. Lawn dressing and fertilising can be done by all homeowners. This is a great time to apply organic fertilisers. I usually use a brand called Talborne they have a large variety of organic fertilisers.
The fertilisers which I would use on my lawns are:
Talborne Vita Grow 2:3:2 – This fertiliser is best for new lawns and great for promoting root growth.
Talborne Vita Green 5:1:5 – This organic fertiliser is excellent for lawns as it promotes vigorous health and a deep green colour.
Talborne Bone Phos 4:10:0 – This is a product I add to my lawn every now and then, it promotes strong root development in calcium and phosphate deficient soils.
Top tip: for lawn dressing, ensure that there is an even spread of the soil and that soil has not completely covered the grass. Once the process of lawn dressing has been complete you should be able to see the tips of the lawn poking through the soil. Use a steel rake turned over to spread the soil, if the spikes are used to spread you will lift more lawn than actually spreading the lawn dressing. Once the lawn dressing has been evenly distributed, I use a rubber rake to rake over the lawn; this ensures that the soil gets right to the roots. If you have a clay soil lawn area, I would recommend adding some river sand to your lawn dressing. The river sand helps promote air pockets in the clay soil thus allowing the roots to grow more vigorously, enabling a stronger plant “aka green lush lawn”.
Once you have completed either, the scarification process, fertilising or lawn dressing it is best to give your lawn a good soaking. Remember that we are still experiencing water restrictions. Watering can be done from 16:00 till 8:00 in winter. Depending on your lawn size and location (sun or shade) you will water up to three times a week. I usually water shade lawn two times a week for 10 minutes and sun loving lawn I water three times a week for 15 to 20 minutes.
These tips should help you ready your lawn beautifully for spring and summer, but please feel free to contact Spargo Landscape Consultants or email HomeTimes at firstname.lastname@example.org, with any questions or information you may need.
Who is Nicholas Spargo?
Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants, has been in the landscape trade for 12 years as well as being a lecturer at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre for the past year. He was awarded a Gold for a design at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre Design Show in 2008, is an Invasive Species Consultant and is affiliated with the South African Green Industries Council.
Landscaping and education are very close to his heart