About Lovely Green Lawns

Wide open spaces of lawns are lovely, but they take a lot of work and resources. They do not just happen. In Australia, we have the added complication of very hot dry summers which most lawns do not like. Lawns need a lot of water, nutrients and time. Lawns are cooling, help us relax psychologically during hot weather and are a great place to sit and have fun. Our kids and pets love lawns, especially to roll and play on. Many gardeners dream of a soft green lawn but do not understand what maintenance techniques are involved to achieve this look. This article is going to let you in to the tricks of the trade and help you create a beautiful green lawn.

There are two types of grasses cool season and warm season and they both have good and bad points. Cool season grasses such as bent, rye or fescue like temperatures between 10-20C and have two growth periods – autumn and spring. They are lovely and green over winter but they tend to go brown over summer. It is difficult to keep them green over summer and they require a lot of water. They have a finer leaf, are not as robust as the warm seasons grasses and do not seem to get into as much trouble of warm season species. Cool season grasses multiply by seed or by producing more tillers around the first shoot that comes from the seed. A tiller is the new side growth, right next to the parent plant.

Warm seasons grasses such a buffalo, couch and kikuyu like warmer temperatures (20-30C) and tend to die down over winter in colder areas. They like tropical humid conditions and keep their colour over summer. They are drought tolerant and can tolerate neglect. But they are very vigorous and get can get into all sort of mischief. Warm season’s grasses spread by stolons and/or rhizomes. Rhizomes are actually compressed stems and one of the big draw backs of these types of grasses are that they grow under the ground into your flower beds. Underground runners are very difficult to get rid off as they constantly grow back. Warm season grasses are much coarser and can be prickly to sit on. They tend to build up thatch over time.

As with all plants, the roots need oxygen and compaction is often the major problem with lawns. Compaction is when the soil particles are pushed together and the moisture and oxygen can’t penetrate the soil. This often happens in high traffic areas such as the path to the clothes line. Compaction causes the grass to struggle and weeds to thrive as weeds are able to cope with soils with low oxygen. Compaction also causes bad drainage, preventing the water from soaking into the top soil and moving down profile. Puddles are caused by either the pore spaces being full of water, or the particles are so closely packed together, the water can’t filter through. The grass literally drowns because there is no oxygen!