Having a nice lawn around here is kind of a big deal. If anyone has ever built or relocated a house will agree that the lawn is the least of tradesmen’s worries. When we first got the site, it had been grazed by cows and so aside from a few cowpats about the place, which I rejoiced at the sight of – free fertiliser yay! There was a lovely verdant grass, if not a little long. Before the house arrived, we took great pride in it and even mowed our empty lot with warm fuzzies about how it will be when it is all finished.
Then the tradies arrived. The house moving truck churned up the surface, the plumbers had great piles of gravel delivered, smack bang in the middle of things and then they took their digger and dug trenches everywhere for the septic system. The electricians also had a go and dug trenches where they wanted wires to go. The builder also had stones and sand delivered so he could make concrete and the lovely lawn become unrecognisable. It had become a building site. But I reminded myself you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs and it was a necessity to get the dream house.
I didn’t help things when I got the bulldozer to level the garden and remove the kikuyu grass as that created a mountain of earth that needed to be pushed across the lawn to level it out to make the tennis court sized back lawn Hubby the Un-Gardener had longed for, and bank up the left over soil in any spot that would look ‘natural’. So, we were effectively left with bare sand where there was once a good solid ground cover of grass growing happily.
And as much as it is despised by many, we reseeded the area in the spring with kikuyu seed and lovingly watered it and it was starting to look good again. It was the best choice to stabilise the sandy soil and works well in beachy conditions. At the very least it was green. Ordinarily you don’t think much about a lawn, you mow it and use it for outdoor living, and it rewards you by being a nice green backdrop. However, sometimes it can get a bit of a hard life. As the only truly flat bit of land we have, when we invited friends to camp over the holiday period our new lawn was ever so slightly suffocated by tents, but once the campers left it bounced back… kind of.
But then it suffered from a problem we all faced this summer. A lack of rain. Being on tank water, unfortunately watering the lawn was last on the list for this precious resource. Actually, it wasn’t on the list at all! As a result, our backyard was brown and crispy. Since then we have had a load of water delivered and it rained a couple of times and the green colour returned. But the lawn certainly wasn’t as lush as it was. And to make matters worse, we decided to have just another small job done and the plumbers and the electricians came back, with a digger! My poor lawn is now in a right state.
But they have gone now, and I need to give my lawn a bit of love now to get it into shape so next summer, when there will be no more construction work, it will be a stronger, healthier lawn and will be able to stand up to the worst summer can throw at it.
Ideally, if I was to water the lawn over summer then it is the same as for the vegies – a deep watering once a week is better than a light sprinkle daily. You really want to lock that moisture in down deep. The Kikuyu grass is a lot tougher and once established I shouldn’t have too much trouble with it and it shouldn’t need as much water, especially in winter when it becomes dormant. So, I need to take advantage of the warmth of the autumn weather to bring some life back into the lawn before it gets too cold.
The first thing will be to level the bumps and digger tracks and try and get it nice and tennis court level again, and maybe use a fork to loosen areas that have become compacted. Then it is a good idea water the soil well – so it is moist down to about 15 cm so the seeds we’ll sow in the gaps of bare earth or where it is brown and crispy, have a good chance of germination once raked in and the existing grass can find what it needs deep down. We will need to bring out the sprinkler to make sure the surface of the lawn stays moist, although overwatering at this point can do more harm than good so little and often is a good idea while the seeds are germinating. It wouldn’t hurt to feed the lawn to with lawn fertiliser at this time of year to nourish the plants, because we need to remember, the lawn is made up of plants and we wouldn’t treat the plants in the garden the way lawns get treated sometimes. If we keep taking from them by mowing, then we need to give them something back.
All going well we will have a lawn to be proud of next summer. A lawn to picnic on and play tennis, with the scent of fresh cut grass filling the air.
Come again soon – autumn is a busy season in its own right!
Sarah the Gardener : o)