Growing a New Lawn

Latest Update 4th January 2018.

Growing a new lawn.
  • The lawn above is about 9 months old, and was started from pre-grown turf supplied in rolls.  It has flourished during the colder months and has not been watered for about 5 months.
  • The day of delivery was a hot 31 deg C, and with more hot weather to come, it was important to soak the turf and get it down before it got too dry.
  • The turf had traveled about 130km from Seymour in central Victoria to where I live so it was already very dry and needed plenty of water to help it recover.
Setting out the lawn.
  • This is the area set aside for our new lawn.  I had neglected this part of our garden for some time, as I needed a holding area for soil when building my Ecobeds in the back yard.
  • This photo shows the raised bed being constructed and pavers about to be laid as a mowing edge around the lawn.  The lawn area is full of weeds and the soil higher than required, so some of it was removed and used to fill the raised beds.
Preparing the soil. 
  • The lawn area was cleared of topsoil and weeds and dug to about 300mm deep to encourage new roots to penetrate as far into the subsoil as possible.
  • The subsoil is heavy clay, so I had to dig the area 3 times before the soil reached an acceptable tilth in which to grow a lawn.
Fitting the irrigation system.
  • I installed a drip line irrigation system equipped with a simple manual timer and used purpose made drip line capable of operating under turf without getting blocked.  
  • I set 7 drip lines 500mm apart to minimise water use, and hopefully comply with future regulations when the next prolonged drought hits us.  
  • 8 wheelbarrow loads of homemade compost and 8 bags of aged cow manure were mixed and spread between the irrigation lines.  This stage was vital in view of the condition of the soil, and I covered the bed with shadecloth to reduce evaporation and protect microbial activity from the sun.  I then watered the bed daily for a week using the drip irrigation for an hour every evening.
  • When the rolls of turf arrived they were soaked with water and the roots sprayed with aerated compost tea.  The shadecloth was removed and the turf laid quickly at 90 degrees to the drip lines.
  • The lawn was watered from above with a sprinkler system for 2 hours and covered with shadecloth to reduce evaporation.
  • Watering continued for 3 days using the irrigation system for an hour every evening.
  • The shade cloth was removed and lawn watering gradually reduced to come into line with the watering rate used elsewhere in the garden.  (1 hour every 4 days in summer and a little more when the weather is very hot).
  • Once fully established, I expect the lawn to cope with a 1 hour drink once a week during the growing season.    
Lawn details.
  • Binomial name:                                    Stenotaphrum secundatum.
  • Family:                                                Buffalo.
  • Classification:                                      Soft Broad Leaf Lawn.
  • Variety:                                                Sir Walter.
  • Garden bed type:                                 Drip line irrigated lawn. 
  • Recommended soil pH:                         5.5-6.5 
  • Climate:                                              Warm Temperate.
  • Geography:                                          Southern Hemisphere. 
Growing Conditions:
  • Buffalo grass is drought resistant, hard wearing and stays green in summer when other varieties dry out and turn yellow or even brown.  It likes full sun but will tolerate light shade.  
  • Water deeply and infrequently in dry and hot weather.  No more than once a week once established. 
Propagating new plants.
  • They can be propagated from runners.  Sir Walter Buffalo grass is only moderately invasive, but it is self repairing if damaged.
  • You can cut small sections of grass from the thickest part of your lawn to repair bald spots.  They will quickly establish and spread.
Growing Instructions
  • One of the advantages of buffalo grass in a hot dry climate is that it insulates the soil from heat and keeps evaporation low by maintaining a layer of runners above the soil from which the broad leafed grass shoots. 
  • Once the roots get deep down into the soil, I expect water consumption even in hot weather to be similar to wicking beds, and to be able to reduce irrigation to 1 hr a week.
  • Every 3 months apply a 9 litre bucket full of sieved home made compost or pelletised organic lawn food to the surface of the lawn, and work it into the tangle of runners which support the leafy green grass above.  Water it in well.
  • I like to apply 30 ltres of active aerated compost tea using a watering can to the lawn every month during the growing season. 
  • Buffalo grass can be damaged by setting lawn mowers too low.    Care must be taken not to damage the lawn's structure.
Organic Pest Control.
  • General:
    • Regular applications of aerated compost tea boost the natural defenses of grass by colonising the leaf surfaces with beneficial microbes.  They also defend the grass against airborne pests and diseases.
    • Similarly, proper soil treatment including regular applications of home made compost boosts the community of beneficial microbes, which defend the roots of the grass against plant pathogens.
    • Maintaining good growth is the best way to control weeds without using chemical herbicides.

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