The Grass is Greener

“You don’t realise how fortunate you are in Australia.” Suda Sudarsana, international P & G scientist, began the story. I met Suda when I was in Thailand recently and his down-to-earth approach resonated with me.

Suda continued the story; it went something like this: You have space in Australia, and the kids get to run around on the grass. In Japan, this is almost unheard of.  When I suggested the baseball team I coach practice on a wet field in bare feet, there was an uproar by parents!  I believe walking barefoot on grass, is really important for kids.  Australian children have this opportunity.

buffalo grass

Australian kids are fortunate. Australians are fortunate.   According to industry research, 84% of us have a lawn.  Now that’s summer, and we are spending more time outside, I thought it would be interesting to put together a post with tips on how to both care for, and make the most of the lawn.

To help me do this, I had a wonderful chat with Tony from Caboolture Turf, about outdoor living, caring for the lawn and how to manage tricky spots.  Tony is obviously passionate about grass, and boy does he know it well.  First things first: below is a picture of the best part of my lawn. The (very) bad parts come later.

{buffalo grass}

running on the grass

What are the basics for lawn maintenance?

  • Fertilise every 3-4 months
  • Water within your local council guidelines (this is plenty to maintain a healthy lawn)
  • Mow low and tight. This encourages the grass to grow sideways, and there will be less room for weeds and prickles.

Is it okay to leave the clippings in the grass?

Absolutely.  Clippings are good for the grass, the only issue is if the grass is long when cut, the kids will walk the clippings through the entire house for weeks to come.  If you mow regularly, it’s a great idea to leave the clippings once in a while.

What about lawns with mixed grass (like mine)

Mixed grass is common in Australian yards.  It’s not a problem if you don’t mind the grass not matching perfectly. What you’ll find is the grass best suited to the area, will be dominant.  This is why it’s important to get advice on what sort of grass is best for your area. A perfect example is this (pictured) section of your yard.   This area gets almost no sun so you have all sorts of things growing here. Couch was originally planted here, and failed as the garden matured. Carpet grass has started to grow instead, but ultimately this area need to be poisoned, removed, some lime added (to solve the moss problem) and then re turfed using a shade tolerant variety like buffalo (Sir Walter).

{incorrect grass for the area}

problem areas turf -- deciding on the right turf for your area -- moss, carpet grass, clover

How do you know what grass is best for your lawn?

This section (pictured below) of your yard is a good example of how the right grass performs well in the right area.  This buffalo grass, close the the house, works perfectly, but there is a distinct line where the buffalo stops and couch starts.

{buffalo grass is wonderful in shady areas}

choosing the right type of grass for your lawn

This is a true example of where the newer variety of buffalo is a better choice (than the original couch).  Quality advice from a Turf farmer, can save a lot of money (and hassles) in the long run. For more information about how to choose the right type of your grass for your lawn, visit this post: Choosing the Right Turf for your Lawn.

“The best way to enjoy your outdoor spaces as a family is just to do it. Unplug and make it happen.”

What is the best way to maximise the yard for family life?

Living outdoors: it’s the Australian way.  The idea is to get out and make it happen. There are endless ways to incorporate the yard into family life; below are some tips:

1. Divide: I’m big on dividing the outdoors into sections. This can be done through landscaping, grass sections, stepping stones, a BBQ or a bench seat placed in a nice shady spot.

2. Play: Put in some cricket wickets, invest in a totem tennis equipment, play soccer, put large buckets out on the lawn for water play, bring inside toys out on a large mat on the grass, put up a cheap tent and let the kids play (they might even sleep out there!).

3. Eat: Many modern homes have the kitchen, living and outdoor areas married into one. There is nothing wrong with this concept but it can be a good idea to remove yourself from the house and actually step away. So, for example, if you have BBQ out in the yard, it’s like having a little holiday.

creating outdoor spaces -- a bench seat

The best way to enjoy your outdoor spaces as a family is just to do it. Unplug and make it happen.

What about trampolines and play equipment on grass?

The key to maintaining grass underneath play equipment is to move it around every week. In your case Kelly, the grass is pretty much dead so you probably will need to replace this section with the correct grass: Sir Walter Buffalo Grass in this case, which is suited for shady areas like this one.

Dead grass under the trampoline (oops!)

what to do with dead grass under play equipment/trampoline

What about trouble spots and thinning grass?

This problem is very easily fixed. Follow these two steps:

  • Top dress these areas (using sand), lightly twice over a month.
  • Mow often, low and tight, to encourage the grass to grow sideways.

{Top dress bare spots with sand}

problem spots in grass

I love grass, and living outdoors as much as possible so thank you Tony for such wonderful tips!

 Love freedom  .  Love grass  .  Love Aussie culture  .  Love life

running on the grass

Lawn problems?

Do you have a question for Tony? Do you want him to have a look at a picture of your lawn? You can leave a question for Tony in the comments below, or even better still, upload a picture of your trouble spots on the Be A Fun Mum facebook page, and Tony will come by and leave feedback for you.  You can join Tony’s facebook page for great tips on keeping your lawn healthy: Caboolture Turf

Giveaway

**The Giveaway how now ended and the winner has been notified**

I’m offering a $150 Bunnings voucher on the blog today to celebrate grass! To enter this giveaway, all you need to do is leave a comment below about what you love most about grass.  Feel free to ask any questions below about turf, or your lawn and  Tony is happy to answer them for you.

Terms:

1. Australian residents only.  2. Giveaway will be selected randomly.  3. Winner will be notified by email. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, the prize will be redrawn.  4. Giveaway open from Friday 16th December to 21 December 2011.

Other Relevant Links

8 Awesome Things About Turf

Choosing the right turf for your lawn

Be A Fun Mum Outdoor Play Posts

Make a magical play space

Favourite Outdoor Play Spaces

Rock Play Garden

Playing with your kids: a confession

Chasing dragonflies & butterflies

Make a flower head wreath

Nature Hunt

Op Shop Cubby

The Best Family Adventure: Geocaching

It’s the Fun You Have Along the Way

Backyard Games

Comments

  1. Clare Keyes says

    Green, Green all around it gives a feeling of freshness which abounds. Oh what a delight to lie on green and look up at a constrasting bright blue sky. The feelings of grass can tickle little toes and for some poor souls tickle their nose. Green, green all around.

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