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November 11, 2009

How to Grow Grass Seed

grow-grass-seed-green.jpg When the neighbor's perfect lawn leaves you green with envy, it's time to do something. Although the concrete parking lot effect may be tempting, the easiest and most cost effective way to a beautiful lawn is to grow grass seed. Seeding a yard is more economical and less back-breaking than laying sod, but the process does require patience. A little knowledge is helpful too.

Before you run to the home improvement store to purchase seed, it pays to do some research. Finding out ahead of time what type of grass seed grows best in your area will make things easier in the long run. One way to determine this is to find out what planting zone you live in. Grass seed packaging will denote grass type along with recommended planting zones. Trying to grow grass that thrives in the north when you live in the south will bring searing results. Planting southern grass in a northern climate will leave you feeling a bit wilted. You get the idea.

Another way to find out what grows best in your neighborhood is to ask your neighbors. Don't ask the neighbors with lawns that resemble your own. Swallow your pride and approach that guy with the golf course green grass in his front yard. He may ramble for hours about fertilizer and watering schedules, but taking notes wouldn't be a bad idea. You can't argue with results.

Now that you have an idea what to buy, it's time to decide on how much grass seed to purchase. Running out of seed halfway through the job is not a good feeling. Luckily, figuring your yard size is as easy as running a tape measure and multiplying the length times the width to get square feet. The grass seed manufacturers include coverage in square feet on every bag, so you'll know how many bags to buy if you know how big an area you need to cover.

While you are in the home improvement store, it may be a good idea to look at walk-behind spreaders if you don't already own one. Hand-casting grass seed is fine for covering small bare spots here and there, but you'll be tossing a few choice words along with the seed if you try to use that method for an entire yard.

You've purchased your bags of grass seed, lubed up the wheels on your spreader, and you are ready to go to work. Before you spread that seed, take a look at the soil in your yard. If you are having a hard time growing gorgeous, green grass on your lot, there's probably good reason. Healthy green grass needs healthy soil. If your yard is sandy or rocky, clay-filled or simply malnourished, it's time to remedy the situation. Having your soil tested by a county extension agent or lawn specialist is the optimum way to find out what to feed your dirt to make it healthy. The easier method involves a trip back to the home improvement center for some bags of topsoil. Spread the topsoil before you spread the seed to give your grass a perfectly balanced place to put down roots.

Now you are ready to spread the seed. Adjust the setting your spreader to the disbursement rate recommended by the seed manufacturer. Try to spread the grass seed slowly and evenly, making sure you don't get an overabundance of seed around the perimeter or bald spots in the center. Picture the seeds as blades of grass. Are they thick enough? Will they stay put in a hard rain? Nothing ruins a good mood like watching your newly planted grass seed washing down into the city sewer. It may help to go behind your spreader with a roller to tamp the seed lightly into the ground. You can use the old-fashioned foot stomping method if you don't have access to a roller. Your neighbors may think you are doing a rain dance, but some rain couldn't hurt right now anyway.

If the clouds aren't rolling in with the rain, it's time to get out the sprinkler. Neglecting to water newly planted grass seed is for the birds. That means that the neighborhood birds will soon be feasting on the huge feeder that you call your yard unless you soak it down with water. Water the seed into the ground with a gently spray to simulate light rain, being careful not to overwater or cause wash-outs.

The next few weeks will be a time for diligence and patience. Regular watering will eventually bring bright green sprouts of tender grass. Beware of roving stray dogs and children riding bikes until these sprouts really take root. Once the blades of grass begin to thicken and grow taller, it's time to fertilize. Use a fertilizer recommended for the type of grass you planted, and don't overdo it. You know what they say about too much of a good thing. Always water immediately after fertilizing to avoid burning off your brand new lawn.
Congratulations. You are well on your way to a think, lush carpet of grass that will rival the best lawn on the block. Remember that maintenance is the key to "lawn-gevity" Keeping your grass cut without scalping it and maintaining a regular watering and fertilizing schedule will be necessary from here on out. Anytime you think that maintenance is too much trouble, picture yourself repeating the steps listed above. You'll be back on track in no time!

October 16, 2006

Lawn tips from the professionals

professional-golf-green.jpg The best advice always comes from those who have what you want. So, if it's a green lawn that mimics that of a golf course or a baseball park then who better to tune into than the person who runs the show.

Justin Johnson, the 25 year old head groundsperson at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute, lawn is his life. So,when he gives some tips on how to make your home lawn as good as his stadium's grass then it may be worth paying attention. Here's 7 tips to help you on your way;

  1. Try to get your grass as healthy as possible in the spring.
  2. Raise the height of the mower to promote the development of a deeper root system. Lower the height heading into autumn.
  3. Don't water it every day, which would be too much.
  4. If grass goes dormant, hit it with a lot of water to get it growing again.
  5. Fertilize, fertilize, fertilize.
  6. Alternating mowing patterns at home, which stands up the grass in different directions.
  7. And remember: "Every lawn is different so there is no set scenario. And with a lot of people it all depends on how much time you want to put into it," Johnson said.

September 16, 2006

Lawn on your roof

Never thought about it. Neither had I.

But for those that live in top floor apartments in inner-city dwellings you may now have an answer to greening that plot of concrete. It seems that Toyota, famous for making cars, now has an arm called Toyota Roof Gardens who have manufactured a product able to withstand the rigours of growing in a polluted rooftop environment.

What will they think of next?

Source: Treehugger: Greening your roof just got easier

June 17, 2006

The best time to water your lawn

best lawn time water
Water is a precious commodity and lawns are the biggest users of it. Why? Firstly because they have a huge surface area obviously requiring more water to keep it healthy. Also, due to the surface area it means that evaporation can occur much more rapidly than from shrubs or foliage plants.

Lawns are also unable to be mulched whereas a garden bed can be and will slow down the evaporation and therefore necessity of more water. This is why many people are replacing their lawns with garden beds or laying more paving.

Here's a quick guide for watering frequencies that may be useful for you. I will substitute the month names for season times so that it can be interpreted by gardeners in any part of the world. You may have to adjust this for your own gardening zone but at least it will give you a rough idea.

Month Frequency
Summer #1 Every 2nd day
Summer #2 Every 2nd day
Summer #3 Every 2nd day
Autumn #1 Every 3rd day
Autumn #2 Every 5th day
Autumn #3 No watering
Winter #1 No watering
Winter #2 No watering
Winter #3 Once per fortnight
Spring #1 Once per week
Spring #2 Every 4th day
Spring #3 Every 3rd day

As I mentioned before, you will need to tweak this to suit your own climate but if you follow the pattern it will give you some good watering guidelines.

Once you've adopted a watering frequency plan the next step is to plan for the best time to water your lawn. The worst time is in the heat of the day for as I stated previously the surface area will allow evaporation to occur quite rapidly. You will find that the water you are pouring on will almost immediately be evaporated and won't help your lawn at all. In fact, it may even harm your lawn by burning the tips of the blades.

The best times to water your lawn is early in the morning or after sunset. I would recommend early in the morning as watering before it goes dark may cause some problems with mildew. These times are the best because they allow the roots to take up the required moisture without having to compete with the sun.

June 10, 2006

How to lay turf

Like any project in life there is an easy way and a hard way to achieve a great end result. The hard way is to make many mistakes along the way and then try and rectify them later on. The easy way is to do it right the first time. If you follow these steps you're sure to have installed your lawn well and then it's time to hit the hammock and rest those weary muscles.

Step 1. - Ground Preparation

The critical ground preparation

This is the 'make or break' situation. If you don't prepare the soil before you lay your turf you'll create a whole heap of problems later down the track.

  • Eliminate any weeds
  • Remove any roots, rocks or building refuse
  • Make sure there are no hidden surprises lurking below the surface such as broken soak wells, cracking pipes etc

Step 2. - Levelling

Using a turf rake level the sand and feeding mix

The next step in installing your lawn is to add some builder to the soil. Many soil centres sell a product called "Top Dressing Mix" which is meant for rejuvenating established lawns. It is usually a mix of chicken manure, coarse sand and peat or sawdust. In this case I would recommend that you add this to the soil as you are levelling it. It will add so much nutrient to the soil and readily feed the lawn rolls.

When levelling the soil make sure it slopes away from any structures to allow heavy runoffs. Also keep in mind that you need to bring it below any coverings such as paving bricks or concrete pads bearing in mind that it will grow another 2-3cm in height.

Step 3. - Laying the Turf

Start laying from the longest corner

Once your soil is levelled and prepared well it's time to start laying the rolls of turf. Start from the longest corner and work down the longest side. Use a brick pattern effect so that the ends of each roll don't butt onto each other creating a single line. The brick pattern gives the turf strength as the lawn begins to set its roots into the soil during its early days.

Step 4. - Check the Turf Edges

Ensure the edges don't have gaps

If the edges have come apart or their are some that have scorched while they've been laid then cover over with a little 'Top Dressing Mix' or coarse yellow sand.

Step 5. - Watering

Start watering immediately

The key ingredient for a successful start to your rool on turfis to get the watering happening immediately. If it doesn't happen soon after laying you will find that turf will begin to show signs of stress and will struggle to adapt quickly to its new environment.

True Blue Turf have a great watering schedule for your new lawn and also once its been established for a while.

June 8, 2006

My turf farm excursion

Hectares and hectares of different shades of turf overwhelmed me as I did a trip to a friend's turf farm. Leonard and Riann run True Blue Turf and have been setting it up since last year. The fruits of their labour are now evident as you begin to see the extent of the operation.

They mainly concentrate on their zoysia's, Empress and Empire. However, they still do grow the staples Kikuyu, Winter Green, a fine leaf couch, and Sapphire, a soft-leaf buffalo. They are even venturing into some new possibilities including a sample roll-on mondo grass.

Hectares of lush green turf

Leonard showed us around the farm and we even had a chance to get amongst some of this beautiful lawn and see how it's processed. This machine guides itself along the edge of the lawn ensuring straight rolls every time. This tractor, basically a complete mobile turf processing plant, is only one of a few in Australia and it's hard to see how you could operate efficiently without one. It certainly makes the job quite easy.

Cutting some zoysia to fill a client's order

We needed to cut a few rolls, 20 to be precise, just to finish a clients order and it would have taken less that 15 mins from leaving the workshop to arriving back at it ready to be delivered. The tractor turf processor automatically cuts each roll to a certain width and length sending it up a conveyor belt and rolling it before a person at the back, in this case Rod, takes it and stacks on a pallet. Once the pallet is full it can be removed by a forklift and ferried to a waiting truck or trailer ready for delivery.

Rod working hard to keep up with the machine

At the back of True Blue Turf's farm is a workshop which is surrounded by small plots of lawn. These sample plots allow the customer to view and compare different types of turf available. You can easily see the difference between the blade size, colour and feel of each type of lawn.

The turf farm workshop and lawn sample plots

The irrigation equipment was monstrous and as you can see in this picture it all revolves around a central bore and pump that waters the entire farm. The guys are looking at expanding soon and are planning to put in another 2 central pumps at different places across the farm.

Irrigation equipment

April 18, 2006

Zoysia Grass: The Lawn of the Future

zoysia grass lawn seedMy friends at True Blue Turf keep telling me that this zoysia grass is all the new rage. Are they only telling me this because it's the main product they sell or are there reasons why they can be so confident in their lawn of choice?

With so much pressure on water resources the race is on to find suitable alternative grasses to the ones we've always grown. Grasses like couches and kikuyu which demand great amounts of water to look good are falling to the wayside while drought-tolerant varieties such as soft-leaf buffalo's and zoysia's are becoming more popular.

Most of the US zoysia grasses have originated from the Asian regions of Korea, the Philippines and Japan while the varieties now grown in Australia (such as Empire and Empress) have come from Brazil. As a lawn they're perfect because they grow well in any setting, even under shaded areas, and they are also slow growing. Therefore they require less maintenance than other warm-season grasses.

Continue reading "Zoysia Grass: The Lawn of the Future" »

  • Stuart Robinson
  • Busselton, Australia
  • Email Me

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