When repairing and over-sowing your lawn is no longer working, you may need to consider replacing it, but first you should consider a few important details:
- Why did your present lawn fail?
- Understanding your site & what you need in a lawn
- Choosing the right type of grass
- Deciding between seed or instant turf rolls
The secret to starting a quality lawn is in making the right decisions before you start. Here’s how!
Things to consider for your lawn
If your old lawn hasn’t succeeded, understanding why is very important because it helps guide you when selecting a new lawn variety.
- Wear and tear
Some lawn varieties just won’t take the rough and tumble of kids, dogs and backyard footy.
- A maturing garden
As gardens grow, lawns can suffer. Shade increases and established plants will take more of the available moisture and nutrients.
Lack of simple yet essential maintenance such as feeding, weeding and watering during dry times can lead to failure.
Knowing your growing conditions and understanding your needs are essential parts of determining the type of grass that’s most likely to thrive.
Is your lawn sunny, shady, dappled light all day or full afternoon sun with morning shade?
Heavy clays or sandy soils will need amending to grow a quality lawn.
Match your lawn grass type to local conditions so you don't have to water excessively.
Will your lawn be a ‘trophy lawn’ - one that’s looked at but not used much - or will it be a play zone?
- Some soil preparation will be needed whether you choose to sow seed or lay instant turf rolls.
- A seeded lawn will involve a much lower financial outlay. However, it will require more care during establishment and it may be months before it can be used.
- Turf rolls are fast and easy to lay and can be walked on in as little as a week. However, the cost of buying and laying a quality grass over a large area can be prohibitive.
In heavy clay soil, add gypsum and washed river sand to open up the soil structure for better root penetration. In sandy soil, add Scotts Everydrop granular soil wetter and blend through some Scotts Lawn Builder Topdress Mix to improve soil structure and moisture retention.
Choosing the right grass type
Do some basic research online about turf varieties, but make sure you’re looking at information that applies to your location and climate zone. Other things to consider include:
- Local knowledge is your best resource. Check out the varieties that are growing well near you and talk to your local turf supplier, garden centre or horticulturist.
- Some lawns such as the vigorous runner grasses will ‘self-repair’ better than others. This is important if your lawn will be heavily used.
- Consider how much time and effort your lawn will need to remain looking good. For example, Kikuyu is tough, fast growing and inexpensive but will need mowing every week in Summer.
Make a brief list of your soil type and the aspect, shade and slope of your property in addition to lifestyle needs, then talk them over with a turf supplier.
'Top five' lawn varieties
Soft-leaved Buffalo Grass
Arguably the most popular grass type in Australia today.
- Excellent at self-repairing
- Ideal for yards with high family use
- Good drought tolerance
- Most types hold Winter colour well.
Popular varieties include ‘Sir Walter’ and ‘Palmetto’.
‘Sapphire’ can tolerate cold down to -10˚C, while ‘Velvet’ is considered as one of the best wearing turf varieties available.
Budget friendly, fast-growing and excellent at self-repairing.
- Excellent choice for larger areas
- Quite drought hardy
- Low shade tolerance
- High maintenance - requires frequent mowing.
- Can become invasive if edges are not confined.
Look for modern, sterile varieties such as ‘Village Green’ and ‘Kenda’.
An ‘old fashioned’ turf grass - its fine blades (leaves) give a formal look.
- Most types are hard wearing but with low shade tolerance
- Maintenance varies from low to high with variety
- Most will require annual top-dressing
‘Santa Ana’ is considered the best looking variety but it can become invasive if allowed to spread into the garden.
Queensland Blue Grass
Called a couch because of its resemblance to couch but in fact it is not related.
- Excellent grass in warm, humid and coastal areas
- Tolerates dry and wet conditions
- Easier to mow and maintain than a true couch
- Does not shade well
Less well known but an excellent lawn grass. Leaf is slightly larger than couch but finer than buffalo.
- Thrives in most conditions including high heat, humidity and coastal areas
- Very low water and maintenance needs once established.
- Native – ‘Nara’ is a native zoysia. It has a fine appearance
- Suited to coastal and warm to hot climates
- Excellent salt and drought tolerance.
Tips and tricks
- Before putting in a new lawn, consider installing sub-surface drip irrigation. Connect this to a computerised timer fitted with a moisture sensor and you’ll never have to think about watering again!
- Some spots just aren’t right for lawns, needing a plant or landscape solution instead. Too shady, too wet or too dry, high levels of foot or even vehicle traffic are all examples of why you may want to consider gardens or paths instead of persisting with a lawn.
- When is the best time to prepare for a new lawn? This can vary greatly depending on where you live but the best rule of thumb is to avoid extremes of temperature while the lawn is establishing. Spring to early Summer and late Summer to early Autumn are considered best in most climates.