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Summer lawn installation and care

In the current climate, jobs need to be done when they need to be done, which sometimes means sowing, turfing or hydroseeding lawns in mid-summer. Read below for some tips from Readylawn’s Roger Morgan about how to ensure this doesn’t compromise turf quality for your clients

I write this as the rain falls and the grass grows and contemplate whether the team will get everything done by Christmas that I’ve promised my clients, which is looking increasingly unlikely.

Normally by now, things are drying out and the inevitable drought issues arise, particularly in new or unirrigated turf. We currently manage about 40 hectares of grass around the countryside in Canterbury with a range of travelling irrigation – ‘K’ line and the old faithful ‘side roll’. This includes looking after the country’s current biggest sports field project – the 6.7-hectare remediation of Lancaster Park in Christchurch back to community fields.

The reality of contracting is that we need to do the job when it has to be done. With lawns often requiring sowing, turfing and/or hydroseeding in mid-summer, there’s potential for conflict at handover about turf quality.

The critical factor with any lawn works in summer is water. Frequency and amount is vital, and while there is no magic number, giving the seed and germinating grass plant the right amount at the right time is the difference between success and failure.

In summer, this means that, ideally, the ground needs a wetting every day, either by irrigation or rain. This is actually more critical for turf establishment than it is for seed, because while seed can hang in there for a day or two if it dries out, turf can quickly go into drought stress. It can even start to die in just a few hours after install on a hot day.

So, here are some pointers to ensure there are turf quality issues:

  • Sow seed, hydroseed or turf any time in summer, but be aware of the weather and forecast. Anticipate and plan for watering BEFORE grassing, including ensuring the right bits are available.

  • Apply a lawn starter fertilizer to add nutrient at sowing.

  • Water well upon completion, or during if installing turf.

  • Water till the soil is soaked, but don’t let it puddle.

  • Start watering in the far corner and pull the hose toward you… Big footprints don’t go down well with the client.

  • The first ten days are the important ones.Water when the new plant needs it. If that’s the middle of the day, water it then.

  • Once established after two or three weeks, you can button off the water to every second or third day, depending on conditions.

  • The plant needs water if it goes a darker colour. Often a portion of the lawn will dry out faster. This can be the indicator to water.

  • First mow at about 50mm, but make sure the grass dries out a bit first, so there are no footprints.

  • Apply another fertilizer about a month after seeding or turfing. Water in well.

Ensure the client is well informed of the lawn maintenance requirements of the new lawn at hand over. There’s plenty of information on the internet regarding lawn after care, including and

Roger Morgan is Managing Director of Readylawn Industries in Christchurch. The turf operation is a key part of the business, but also a significant landscape contracting, synthetic and sportsfield construction and maintenance division. The Readylawn system is franchised with farms around NZ.

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