Lawn care guide

Ongoing lawn maintenance will keep your lawn looking lush and healthy for many years to come. It is important to establish a regular routine for watering, fertilising and mowing. Other maintenance tasks include: weed control, aeration (or coring), over sowing, dethatching, lime and gypsum application, and combating pests and scarab grubs.

The information on this page is intended as a general guide. If you are unable to find the information you require here please contact us on 1800 226 887 to discuss your particular situation.

Deep watering

The most important ingredient in maintaining a healthy happy lawn is the development of a deep watering routine. Deep watering will encourage the roots of your lawn to grow deep into the soil enabling it to source increased water and nutrients-saving you time and money.

To develop a deep watering routine you should water infrequently and give your lawn a very good soak, ideally 12 mm (or half an inch) of water over the whole area every 10 to 14 days, or as required.

A good way to work out how much, or more importantly, how often to water your lawn, is to place a flat tray or container on your lawn with about 12 mm of water in it. Now monitor how long it takes for the water to evaporate, and this will give you an idea of an appropriate interval between watering. (These times will vary depending on seasonal conditions and the test should be carried out periodically to ensure the most efficient use of your water.)

For sprinkler systems, estimate the watering times needed by placing several straight sided containers around your lawn and time how long it takes to fill them all to 12 mm. This will also highlight any areas of your lawn that are missing out on water.

If you experience problems with runoff during watering, a good idea is to water at intervals, e.g. 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, etc. This allows time for the water to penetrate the soil and will minimise water wastage.

Fertilising with Grow Green +

Your lawn is a living, vigorous group of grass plants that consume nutrients from the soil in which they live. Canturf developed Grow Green + fertiliser to replenish these nutrients and ensure a healthy, lush and vigorous lawn that is less susceptible to weeds. Grow green + has been specifically designed for cooler climate grasses and contains a balance of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium as well as essential trace elements to ensure your lawn stays well fed.

When to apply Grow Green +

Lawns get the most benefit from fertilizer when they are actively growing in Spring and Autumn. To achieve an even balance of nutrients, Canturf Grow Green should be added in small regular meals — three times in each growing season as shown in the chart below. Apply Grow Green + at a rate of 35 grams per square metre and always water the lawn after feeding, or apply Grow Green fertilizer during a steady rain.

Growing-season-chart

Regular mowing

A regular mowing routine will keep your lawn even and attractive and will also maintain vigour. The most common mistakes are mowing too short, and infrequent severe mowing. Your new lawn should be mowed for the first time about two weeks after laying or as soon as the Canturf reaches 80 mm in height. Ideally your cold season lawn should be kept at a height of 60 mm. Mowing too short will expose the base of the plant to weather and traffic. Warm season lawns can be mowed shorter than cool season lawns. Please refer to the graph below for mowing heights for your chosen lawn.

mowing-height-Chart

for cold climate lawns, cutting closer than 60 mm removes the major food producing part of the plant and exposes the crown to traffic damage and drying out. A longer leaf will also look more lush and help retain moisture in the soil. It is also important to keep your mower blades sharp and to always use a catcher as clippings can cause uneven growth and weed infestation.

Controlling weeds

A healthy vigorous lawn is the first line of defence against weeds, however, even the best lawns can be affected.

The best method of weed control is to remove by hand, or dig out with a fork, taking care to remove the roots. Otherwise, spot spraying with a herbicide may be necessary. Many weeds will need to be treated with a non-selective herbicide such as Roundup or Zero, but care should be taken, as these will kill any plants they touch.

For broadleaf weeds such as white clover, sub clover, thistles and paspalum, a selective herbicide can be used which will not kill grasses. A herbicide with the active ingredients MCPA and Dicamba is recommended. (Note: Take care as some Canturf lawn blends contain clover, which will be affected).

Aeration (or coring)

Bare patches or poor growth can often occur in compacted soils, where traffic may be high. In these areas the entry of water and nutrients are greatly restricted. This problem can be remedied by coring or aerating the soil.

Give the soil a good soaking, and with a pitchfork penetrate to a depth of 10–15 cms. For a large area, coring machines are available for hire. After aerating or coring your lawn we recommend that you fertilise with Canturf Grow Green + at a rate of 35 grams per square metre.

Dethatching

Thatch is the dead and decaying plant material that builds up at the base of the grass plant. In areas effected by thatch the entry of air, water and nutrients is reduced.

Early spring is the ideal time for dethatching and vigorous hand raking may be enough to remove the dead material, or you can hire a dethatching or scarifying machine if necessary. Build up of thatch can be prevented through aeration and correct watering to encourage a deep root system. It is important to fertilize your lawn with Canturf Grow Green after dethatching to encourage growth and vigour.

Over sowing

If your lawn becomes patchy or dies, it may be necessary to over sow, or in extreme cases to returf. Or, as a deterrent against scarab grub, you may decide to add some strawberry clover into your lawn.

When over sowing, choose a Canturf seed to complement your turf type. Apply a thin layer of soil to the area and rake smooth. Mix your Canturf seed with 70 grams per square metre of Canturf Seed Starter. The Seed Starter will provide phosphorous and essential elements for seed establishment.

Spread the mixture over the whole area and rake lightly. Water thoroughly and keep the soil moist (not wet) until the new grass is about 20 mm high. Six weeks after initial application a further coverage of Canturf Seed Starter as a booster will promote quick growth and root development.

Lime and gypsum

Many Canberra soils are acidic or tend to become acidic due to the salts in our water. This problem can be fixed by adding lime to your soil or over the top of your lawn. Or if your soil has a high clay content, gypsum will help reduce compaction. Lime and gypsum should also be added to the garden after coring or dethatching the area.

We recommend that lime and gypsum be applied in Winter at a rate of 200 grams per square metre.

Scarab grubs

Introduction

A Lawn’s number one pest problem is scarab grub attack, but with good maintenance the damage can be minimized and if caught early enough reversed. Scarab grubs belong to one of the largest families of beetles and vary greatly in size, colour and shape. All scarabs have a similar biology, with the larvae feeding on organic matter and grass roots and adults feeding on eucalypt foliage. Scarab grubs have been an ongoing problem for some time in the Southern Tablelands and Southern Highlands areas of NSW and are a major cause of concern for customers and rightly so, as the effects of a scarab grub attack can be demoralising for the keen gardener.

Symptoms

The worst damage to lawns usually occurs late Summer to early Autumn. If the infestation is dense enough you could expect to see patches of grass beginning to change colour from green to brown with the grass looking very dry. The scarab grubs don’t actually kill the grass but feed on the roots just below the surface of your lawn. These roots become damaged and the grass is unable to take up the moisture and nutrients required for healthy growth. In the worst cases it may also be easy to pull up the turf and roll it back to reveal the grubs. Birds may also cause secondary damage whilst feeding on the larvae, dislodging large amounts of turf.

Life cycle of scarab grubs

All scarabs that damage turf have a similar life cycle as shown below, however the timing and detail may vary greatly from species to species. The eggs are small and oval in shape, and usually white. They are laid near the soil. The female beetle can lay up to 80 eggs, which hatch in 2–5 weeks depending on the temperature. Lavae are a C-shape and have 3 stages (instars) which differ in size. Between each instar the lavae shed their skins. The first instar live near the surface and feed on decaying plant material. The second stage moves deeper and begins to feed on the roots. The third larval lives much deeper in the soil and grass roots form a substantial portion of their diet. When the third instar has grown to full size it stops feeding and burrows down into the soil. It then shrinks within a larval skin and rebuilds its tissue into that of an adult beetle. The adult beetle emerges from the pupal skin and burrows towards the surface. They have well-developed wings beneath their wing covers and can fly long distances.

Important points

Scarab grubs do more damage to wet, weak lawns. A healthy strong growing lawn will resist and survive attack more easily. Deep watering combined with a good fertiliser program, such as that recommended on the back of a Canturf ‘Grow Green’ fertiliser packet, is essential to achieve a healthy lawn.

‘Less more often’ is the trick with fertilising. A constant level of nutrients will allow a lawn to be healthy all year round. People prefer three meals a day as opposed to one huge meal — similarly with lawns, regular small applications are preferable to infrequent large doses. A lawn becomes stressed if too much fertiliser is used at once.

To use an old adage, ‘Prevention is far better than cure’. This is achieved by maintaining a deep-rooted properly fertilised lawn, which preferably contains O’connor’s Strawberry Clover. Clover being a legume and not a grass seems to be less susceptible to damage.

No grass is resistant to scarab grub attack and as much as we would love to promise otherwise this would be untrue. Canturf uses seed with high endophyte levels, and while this can repel some lawn grubs, there is no evidence that this repels all scarab grubs.

On the other hand, there are legumes like O’connor’s Strawberry Clover and other clovers, which are rarely affected by scarab grubs because the female beetles like to lay their eggs in the roots of grasses and find legume roots unattractive. Canturf and the ACT Parks and Conservation Service have found that scarab grub attacks are a lot less severe in lawns with some clover in them. Clover helps to provide a cover until the grass repairs. The beauty of O’Connor’s is that, being a small leafed clover, it looks good, it’s nice and soft, it’s hardy, it does not attracted bees as much as larger flowering clovers, it is far less likely to spread and take over your lawn like sub clover, and being a legume it adds nitrogen back into the soil.

Controlling scarab

There are several ways to control scarab grubs. The most ecologically friendly is either with management as discussed above or with ‘Entomopathogenic Nematodes’ or ‘ENs’. These Nematodes are a natural enemy to the scarab grub but do not harm good bugs in your soil. You can get your Nematodes in the ACT from Rodney’s Nursery at Pialligo and the The Garden Centres at Parkwood, Dickson, Weston, Mawson and Erindale.

For more information visit www.ecogrow.com.au

If you feel that it is necessary to use chemicals, we would suggest calling one of the lawn spraying professionals, because of the different species and the timing variance from year to year of the best time to spray.

If you wise to spray yourself then there many chemicals out there available from nursery’s and hardware stores, we would encourage you toward a ‘systemic’ type spray over a soil drench-contact type spray. (The chemical has to be washed through the soil profile as opposed to being absorbed by the plant.)

Click here to download PDF of Canturfs Scarab Bug – Information Sheet

Reestablishing lawn damage

If your lawn is infested with grubs don’t lose heart. The root system has simply been severed and therefore your lawn needs a little extra care until the root system reestablishes. To repair the damage caused by the birds feeding on the grubs, fill the hole with soil and oversow the area with Canturf Lawn Seed. Many lawns are infested with scarab grub, but it is the condition of the lawn, which dictates the damage they cause. The best action to avoid scarab invasion is to have a healthy lawn and the ingredients for this include: good soil depth, an irregular deep watering routine, regular mowing and an established fertilising program.