Lawn Care and Grass Lawn Alternatives

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Vegetable Garden Soil; Grass Lawn Alternatives
Vegetable Garden Soil; Grass Lawn Alternatives

Lawn Care and Grass Lawn Alternatives

Vegetable Garden Soil; Grass Lawn Alternatives

Lawns and Lawncare

A lawn should be, amongst other purposes, beautiful and soft to play or entertain on. Before going through any effort it is important to know which grass grows well in your area, for grass also need specific conditions. There are fast and easy methods nowadays like ‘roll-on-turf’ for those who can afford it, but this is not the only successful option. With patience and thorough preparation, any lawn can look healthy, providing lush carpeting outdoors.

 

Starting Anew…

Again soil preparation is vital, but unlike most plants, lawn sites should be free from organic matter.

  • Start preparation on the site a couple of weeks prior to planting, for if there are any weeds, this is the time to get rid of it.

  • Work 25cm deep, through the soil, removing foreign objects and rake area level. Water the site regularly for a couple of weeks, encouraging the germination of any weed seeds. When actively growing, spray the weeds with a herbicide consisting of Dicamba, MCPA, and 2-4D and wait for them to die.

  • Dig and rake through the soil once again, ensuring the texture is fine. Fertilize the soil now, but always remember that with grass one should stay clear from organic matter, for it could prove fatal. Sprinkle 2:3:2 and Superphosphate at the advised quantities over the site.

  • Ensure your site is level, for it makes not only mowing in the future easier, but the lawn will also look neater.

Now your site is ready for seeding, planting plugs, runners or laying your instant roll-on lawn.

From seed

Sowing is usually done during spring or summer and instructions are provided on the packaging.

  • Water regularly, ensuring the planting soil stays moist, even if it means several times daily.

  • Start mowing reasonably high at first, but as soon as seedlings have formed firm roots.

  • Apply 2:3:2 at six weekly intervals, until coverage is satisfactory, followed by L:A:N for good leaf growth.

  • Weed the planting site regularly.

From plugs or runners

This tried and tested method has proved very successful.

  • Plant the pieces of grass, or plugs, at about 18 – 22 p/m² and treat the same as for seeding.

  • Lay the grass strips, or runners, in grooves made in the soil, close for faster coverage if needed.

  • These runners don’t need continual moist conditions and are treated the same as seedlings.

Grass Chart for different regions

Region Variety
Winter Rainfall LM or Berea (Dactyloctenium australe); Bermuda ‘Jackpot’ (Cynodon dactylon var.); Buffalo (Stenotaphrum secundatum); Country Club (Paspalum vaginatum); Silverton Blue (Cynodon dactylon var.); Bayview (Cynodon transvaalensis var.); Florida (Cynodon transvaalensis var.); Gulfgreen (Cynodon transvaalensis var.);
Coastal Berea (Dactyloctenium australe); Bermuda ‘Jackpot’ (Cynodon dactylon var.); Buffalo (Stenotaphrum secundatum); Kearsney (Axonopus compressus); Country Club (Paspalum vaginatum); Silverton Blue (Cynodon dactylon var.); Bayview (Cynodon transvaalensis var.); Florida (Cynodon transvaalensis var.); Gulfgreen (Cynodon transvaalensis var.); Skaapplaas (Cynodon transvaalensis var.); Tifgreen (Cynodon transvaalensis x C. dactylon hybr.); Tifway (Cynodon transvaalensis x C. dactylon hybr.).
Regions with Frost Berea (Dactyloctenium australe); Bermuda ‘Jackpot’ (Cynodon dactylon var.); Buffalo (Stenotaphrum secundatum); Kearsney (Axonopus compressus); Harrismith (Cynodon dactylon var.); Newmix Sahara (Cynodon dactylon var.); Bayview (Cynodon transvaalensis var.); Florida (Cynodon transvaalensis var.); Gulfgreen (Cynodon transvaalensis var.); Skaapplaas (Cynodon transvaalensis var.); Tifgreen (Cynodon transvaalensis x C. dactylon hybr.); Tifway (Cynodon transvaalensis x C. dactylon hybr.); Tifdwarf/LMG (Cynodon transvaalensis x C. dactylon hybr.).
Semi-Shade Berea (Dactyloctenium australe); Kearsney (Axonopus compressus); Gulfgreen (Cynodon transvaalensis var.).

The seven do’s of healthy lawns…

  • Mowing
    at least once a week is essential for a beautiful lawn, and if possible twice weekly during summer. Judge the necessary cutting height according to how fast the next mowing is needed, but don’t end up cutting into brown stems due to too short settings. The clippings can be used to sprinkle over the lawn, and so feeding it. (Grass clippings make are also good for mulching elsewhere in your garden).

  • Watering
    is, of course, vital and should be done at least once two-weekly. This will not only keep your grass green but also repel insects like crickets and ants, for they prefer drier environments.

  • Aerating
    for better water drainage and enabling oxygen to reach the roots.

  • Fertilizing
    betters your chance of a weed- and disease free lawn, but note that grass treated with compost is quite prone to fungal diseases. It is therefore important to only use chemical fertilizers, like L:A:N for green leaf growth and 2:3:2 for lawn matting. Tip: to rid your lawn of moles, use Ammonium Sulphate in the place of L:A:N, making it too acidic for the earthworms that moles area after. The worms will move and the moles will follow!

  • Thatch removal
    entails the cutting of your lawn so short that no green growth, but only brown areas are visible. After mowing, rake the clippings up rough enough for stolons to loosen and snap. Follow immediately with top dressing.

  • Top dressing
    is an effort well worth doing? Start off in spring by sprinkle 60g of both Superphosphate and 2:3:2 p/m² over the entire lawn. Spread clean, weed-free sand over and level by dragging a bar across. Repeat until the grass is showing only just through the sand. Sprinkle 60g of 2:3:2 p/m² again over the entire lawn, followed by a thorough watering. Water once weekly.

  • Edging
    every six weeks with a spade, shears or tool of your choice for a neatly edged lawn.

Grass Lawn Alternatives

If you’ve been tasked with the tedious task of cutting the grass lawn, you’re familiar with the noisy mower and the headache it inevitably causes! There is of course that ‘I could be doing anything else’ feeling. Well, luckily for Niagara homeowners willing to take the plunge and break the binds of conformability, you have options worth considering. Although there is a beautiful, homey feel to a well-groomed grass lawn, some may be tempted by the idea of other forms of low-grown plants that rarely – if ever – grow tall enough to warrant being mowed.

Buffalo Grass

While not as far down the spectrum to regular grass as what you’ll read below, Buffalo grass requires significantly less maintenance and caters to those who place far less emphasis on lawn upkeep. It needs much less water than normal grass and even less fertilizer (or none at all). Mowing becomes less-frequent and it is recommended that buffalo grass grows with minimal yearly cuts, preventing unwanted weed growth.

Clover 

Clover’s versatility allows for growth in a variety of places without the requirement of good soil. A bi-seasonal cut to help promote fresh growth and replace winter-burnt stock. It is a legume, so it’s adaptable to surroundings, without the need for fertilizer.  Minimal watering is required, but useful in dry conditions. It has a naturally dark shade and can almost look like grass from a distance. It’s not as sturdy as common grass when walked on and is prone to leaving a trail, but remains easy on bare feet.

Moss

One of the more self-sufficient alternatives to grass lawns is moss. It doesn’t require much sunlight and is able to best grow in moist settings, with no fertilizer required. It grows into the ground with rhizoids rather than roots. Despite slower-to-no growth in the winter months, Moss quickly regains its growing capabilities when the climate warms. It’s one of the lowest-growing options and therefore requires next to no mowing or trimming. In terms of durability, Moss is delicate due to not having roots. It is capable of withstanding light foot traffic, but shouldn’t be frequently stepped on or made available to pets.

Sedges

Offering a touch of flexibility, sedges can have a picturesque appearance when allowed to grow a little, while also exhibiting a cleaner cut version with very seldom mowing. Like clover, it is very good at growing in a variety of soil qualities. It requires a spring cut to rid winter burn but recommended to be left to grow fully afterward. Another positive factor of Sedges is the ability to withstand a fair portion of walking traffic without trailing.
 
It can be a radical change, but for those willing to adapt, there are a plethora of benefits that the listed low-growing plants offer as an alternative to natural grass. Whether it is due to a lack of physical capability to handle the maintenance of grass lawn care or simply the maddeningly tedious process of it all, it may be worth investing in a number of the available options.

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