Establishing new lawns

Lawns provide the beautiful landscape for our gardens, but they also use up to 30 per cent of outdoor water. Whether it is a functional play area or an ornamental feature, there are many ways to make your lawn more water efficient.

  • Choose a low-maintenance, light drinker for your lawn. Ask your local nursery for advice on what grass type will suit you.
  • Try not to plant lawn on slopes or in hard to reach places that are difficult to water and maintain.
  • Apply a light top dressing to your lawn to minimise the amount of water it requires. Talk to your local nursery or landscape supplier about a suitable weed-free, sand-based, organic top dressing mix.
  • Water your lawn for longer, but less often, to encourage deeper roots and drought tolerance. A good soaking every now and then is ideal.
  • Aerate the soil occasionally with a garden fork to help water soak in.
  • Try not to cut your lawn too short. Mow only the top third of the leaf area, leaving it three centimetres or higher. You can reduce water loss even further by saving your lawn clippings to use as mulch on your lawn or garden.
  • Plant trees to partially shade lawn areas. This will reduce evaporation rates and slow down lawn growth, saving time on mowing. Be careful not to over shade as this will thin out your lawn.

Planting tips

Warm season grasses

The most practical method of planting warm season grasses is to use instant turf. They can also be established using sprigs/stolons, but seeding is not a practical option for this type of grass.

To prepare the area for planting, spray it with a glyphosate-based herbicide to kill all existing weeds and vegetation. Leave for two weeks, mow close to the soil, and top dress to level the area. Apply a 'lawn starter' fertiliser and lay the turf.

Planting is best done early to mid-spring so there is plenty of time to establish the lawn before the following winter.

Cool season grasses

Seed or instant turf are the best ways to establish cool season grasses. Planting can be done all year round, but the best time is in August/September to take advantage of the spring rains.

To prepare the area, spray existing vegetation with a glyphosate-based herbicide, leave for two weeks, then till the area to loosen the top soil to a depth of five centimetres. Use your feet to re-harden the soil, then level, fertilise and lay the instant turf. Keep the instant turf constantly moist during establishment. If sowing seed, spread it evenly, rake over it lightly and keep it moist.