Help!!! My Lawn Looks Terrible!Bobtail Landscaping
A common cry for help at this time of year in Perth is how to get a lawn looking lush, green and healthy. If the heat is already browning your lawn off, and you know it’s getting enough water, then there is generally only one problem…. your soil!
This lawn issue is very common in Perth, and 95% of the time it has nothing to do with the type of lawn you have, lawn beetle, or any other factor. Most of the lawn varieties sold and installed in Perth are in fact very hardy and quite heat tolerant, especially if your watering them twice per week. However they must be installed properly for this to be the case. This includes lawn varieties such as Wintergreen Couch, Kikuyu, Sir Walter, Palmetto, Empire Zoysia and others.
The problem that many homeowners like you have is that their lawn was never installed well to start with. Either to save a few dollars, or because the installer just didn’t know any better, lawns are installed with very little organic material beneath them, in many cases none, and just a handful of fertilizer or dynamic lifter thrown over the sand. The unfortunate fact is many installers act like lawn is carpet, when in fact it is a living breathing plant that requires water, heat and most importantly good nutrition from the soil to grow well.
So My Lawn Looks Terrible, What Can I Do?
Well the truth is you really only have two options.
Option 1 – Replace the lawn
The steps involved for this option include:
- Spray the existing lawn on two occasions to kill it off (only if you want a different lawn variety reinstalled).
- Dig out the lawn out to 100mm deep and disposing of this dead lawn.
- Install a 50mm layer of good quality organic soil mixed with minerals and fertilizer.
- There would undoubtedly be reticulation repairs needed after the lawn is excavated.
- Lay the new lawn.
This would cost roughly $50/sqm to complete.
Option 2 – Repair your existing lawn.
The steps involved for this option include:
- Mow then aerate/core the lawn to relieve compaction and create ‘holes’ in your lawn. Dispose of the coring waste.
- Spread a 10mm thick layer of fine, organic compost mixed with minerals and fertiliser over the lawn and into the coring holes. This compost helps to minimise thatch, encourage natural microbial activity, and increase organic matter to the lawn roots.
This would cost roughly $10/sqm to complete, however I would suggest doing the same thing again next summer to get more organic material into the roots of your lawn.
All lawns will also benefit from a 5-10mm layer of fine compost spread over the lawn in early autumn, without the coring, to keep it healthy over winter.
It is very important to use fine compost that doesn’t have any sand or inorganic materials in it as this will sit on top of the lawn and slowly raise the level of your lawn over time. Check out Green Life Soil Co or other landscape yards for sand free, fine compost.
Lawn Care Tips
While many of us are reducing the amount of lawn we have around our homes, or removing it entirely, it is still highly beneficial to have some lawn for cooling, play and general amenity. So here are some simple tips for a healthy lawn that easily survives the summer heat.
Preparation – Like many things in life preparation is the key. For new lawn ensure there is at least 50mm of good quality compost mixed through the sand before you lay the lawn. It’s much easier to improve the soil before the lawn is put down.
Watering – Ensure your reticulation system is getting the appropriate amount of water to your lawn. Too much is a waste and too little… well, we all know what happens then.
Mowing and Catchers – Mow regularly and keep it short. The shorter your lawn the less water it loses through evaporation and the less water it requires. Beware not to scalp soft leaf buffalo lawns. Also leave the catcher off. This is great advice I got from the Beyond Gardens team many years ago and I have followed it ever since. Your lawn clippings contain nutrients and when left on the lawn to return to the soil they help to minimise the need for fertilising.
Top Dressing – A think layer of fine screened compost will works its way into your soil and help to build a rich, healthy soil profile for your lawn’s roots. Just be sure it doesn’t contain any sand.
I can think of many things I’d rather be doing this summer than digging out my lawn, I’m sure you’ve got a few ideas too.