The making of a healthy lawn is dependent upon the soil. When the soil under the turf is decent, you’ll have a healthy lawn for many years to come. For optimum growth, turf grass needs just four things (within the proper balance) to grow. It needs sunlight, air, water and nutrients.
Reduce any one of these, or provide an extra amount of any one, and of course the grass may suffer or just die. Within the right proportions, the lawn will flourish. Grass obtains three of these four essential factors (air, water and nutrients) from the soil, however some soils are less than ideal for growing grass. Some soils contain excessive amounts of clay and may be very compacted… ideal for roads, bad for grass, because air and water aren’t offered to the roots and the roots can’t grow.
Other soils may have excessive amounts of sand… beautiful on a beach, but hard to grow grass because water and nutrients won’t remain the root zone long enough for the plant to use. Another frequently observed issue with many soils is that its pH (the degree of acidity or alkalinity) is too high or too low for optimum grass growth. So getting the soil right is key.
Idealy one would have the existing soil checked by way of a soil scientist, and he would instruct you about what it needs, however this is not always practical, but it is feasible. Simply google soil laboratories and you’ll find one. Apart from getting advice from a soil scientist, there basic methods that may be used to prepare the soil. Making sure you pick the correct method depends on budget, and of course the condition of the soil to start with.
First you must kill any existing grass or weeds with Glyphosate. Sprying once will kill most things, however if you can, a follow up spray a few months later is going to make sure virtually everything is dead. Before Spraying be certain the weeds and undesirable grass is healthy, it even helps to water a couple oftimes before spraying to make sure of it. Round Up works better whenever the weeds are growing well.
If you’re lucky enough to then just hire a subcontractor who has a tractor rotary hoe, or hire a small one from a rental company to loosen the soil bed to a minimum of 100mm, and a max of 200mm. When the soil is too hard water it well on the evening before. After rotary hoeing rake out any dead foliage as necessary, and level the ground. When the soil is of a clay type, or a sandy type, or relatively poor in other ways, buy in some organic soil conditioner.
Use at the very least 2 cubic metres per 100 square metres. Spread this on top of the soil. If it is a clay type use Gypsum too. Use a rotary hoe to combine this well into the ground, after which rake the ground smooth. Hiring a skid steer to perform the work is another method. If you’d like to get a contractor to do the preparation, this makes life easier.
Make certain that the operator rips the existing soil well first, loosening the base. A hard compacted sub soil is the last thing a lawn needs. Then order 7 cubic metres of good quality organic soil blend per 100 square metres or ground. Ensure it has a decent amount of organics in it. Spread this with the skid steer, making sure the finish is smooth. In some areas you may need to rake smooth with the back or front of a rake. Turf is the safest and best way to install a lawn.
Laying turf truly is easy. Seeding only works well in places like Tasmania where cool climate turf like Fescue is used. For Warm climate turf like Buffalo no seed is available, and for Couch and Kikuyu, the seed germinates very slowly,and is difficult to get a good result from. Simply lay one roll all around the outside after which fill in the area with the turf all going one way.
Patch up any gaps, roll the lawn whenever you can, and water in well. On hot days water the turf in sections as you lay it. Don’t fertilise till a month after the turf is laid. University research proves that turf receives no benefit from fertiser until a month after laying. Then utilize a good slow release type.
For the first 2 weeks the lawn cannot dry out. On a hot day in summer that may mean watering 3 times per day, or on a milder day once per day. After 2 weeks watering can often be reduced to every 2nd or 3rd day.