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Turf maintenance - DIY Essentials

By Ben Sims
17 October, 2019

Don Bennett Kardan back lawn 3 edit.JPG

Perth has a good climate for turf with a long growing season, despite it being hot and dry. There is a short but mild winter in which turf goes semi dormant. The growing season is from September through to end of April/early May. It is important the turf is looked after correctly throughout the year even in winter so it can perform it’s best when the weather does heat up. 

 1.    Mowing

The most important thing is mowing as if this isn’t done regularly enough and at the correct height and frequency then nothing else you do will add much benefit as the lawn will be under constant stress from each bad mow. I recommend weekly mowing but if that is too much then at the most fortnightly. Ideally you want to take off no more than 1/3 of the leaf at anyone time or as close to this as practically possible.

 2.    Reticulation set up

Obviously, water plays a critical role in turf health and we want to make sure it is used as efficiently as possible in a hot dry climate like Perth. Throughout the day mainly(but also at night) the turf is constantly losing water through its leaves. Firstly, you want to make sure all reticulation nozzles are working correctly, and you get full even, head to head coverage where the throw of one nozzle reaches the nozzles opposite it and vice versa. Nozzles also must be spaced so the spray of one nozzle also reaches the nozzle alongside it and vice versa. 
Watering is best done in the morning just before the sun comes up as this gives the water time to penetrate before the sun warms up and the water is available during the day when the plant can utilize it best. Evening watering isn’t a good idea as water that sits on the leaf overnight can cause fungal diseases especially if there is a warm and humid night. 
3.    Fertilising

Fertilising will replenish the nutrients lost through mowing and leaching. Without fertilising the turf will run out of nutrients if it doesn’t get regular fertilising and it won’t be able to grow and take up water as easily and will be more prone to pests and diseases. I’ll go into the 3 most common turf types and their fertiliser requirements. 

  • Couch/Kikuyu – recommended 50g/square meter which works out to be about 1 adult handful per square meter every 6-8 weeks (personally I like to do 25g/square meter every month)
  • Buffalo – recommended 25g/square meter every 6-8 weeks half that every month.
  • Eco growth Emerald turf fertiliser I recommend which can be purchased from Elders, Stratagreen, Waldecks, Dawson’s or Total Eden.

4.    Wetting agent
Most wetting agents are surfactant based which means they break up waxes that coat the soil particles. These waxes occur through natural processes particularly on Perth’s grey Bassendean sands. It is important to firstly choose a quality wetting agent as no two wetting agents perform the same. Also it’s important to apply a wetting agent with enough water as if it’s not washed off the leaf it can burn on a warm windy day and water is what is needed to make sure the wetting agent not only breaks the surface wax layer but also reaches the root zone. Once the wax layer is broken water- and water-soluble nutrients and other plant beneficial water-soluble products can reach the root zone and the plant can utilize as much of the water and nutrient as it receives.  
Eco growth - Eco wet is the best wetting agent I have used, and it comes in a concentrate which makes it more cost effective as opposed to a pre-mixed spray on bottle as is standard for some other products like Aquaforce (also good). You can make your own pre-mix and apply with a hortex sprayer or used hose on bottle. 

**Apply wetting agents monthly with 15mls of water which for standard nozzles translates to 5 mins reticulation, apply wetting agent and then water in with 10 mins reticulation. 

**For Waterwise MP rotator type nozzles or gear drive sprinklers 15 mls can be 20-30 mins reticulation before application, apply wetting agent and then run reticulation for 45-60 mins.