Lawnmower Clinic - Hints and Tricks
All Seasons Evergreen® is a Sakata Seed Southern Africa's proprietary mixture developed specifically for the Southern African region. Many years of trials conducted at our local research station, as well as decades of field experience, have contributed to the success of this mix. This grass mixture will stay green throughout the year no matter how cold it gets! Even frost or snow won’t force the grass to turn brown (go dormant). It is also important to ensure the mixture can cope with the hot times of the year. This is why long term local experimental trials are so important. We need to be sure that this grass looks good all year round.
All Seasons Evergreen® has all the advantages associated with a well formulated mixture, such as:
- the ability to thrive in a wide variety of growing conditions, and
- reduced susceptibility to disease without compromising on the overall uniformity of the lawn’s appearance.
The trend towards smaller gardens surrounded by high walls means that lawns often have to grow in shadier conditions than adapted for. Commonly used grasses such as Kikuyu cannot tolerate low light intensities and will die back in shady areas.
All Seasons Evergreen® is quick to establish from seed. Germination can be expected 5 to 10 days after sowing and reasonable coverage in 6 to 8 weeks. This lawn takes a few months to reach full maturity.
All Seasons Evergreen® is a “bunch-type” grass that thickens out by means of tillering and does not have any runners. The advantage of this growth habit is a non-invasive grass, requiring much less edge trimming. This also means that adhering to the recommended sowing rate is essential for a dense lawn area.
All Seasons Evergreen® is designed to grow in full sun and semi-shade conditions. It is compatible with another Sakata Seed Southern Africa's grass formulated for full and semi shade, known as Shade-Over®. The combination of All Seasons Evergreen® and Shade-Over® covers the complete spectrum from shade to full sun while maintaining a uniform appearance.
It is recommended that an irrigation system be installed when you establish an All Seasons Evergreen® lawn. Although it does not need much more water than a Kikuyu lawn, it cannot survive long periods of drought. All Seasons Evergreen® is a permanent grass that will only need interseeding if the grass is damaged by something like a dog digging a hole or if it thins out in shady parts as a result of mowing at too low a cutting height.
All Seasons Evergreen® tolerates high traffic levels. It is used on rugby stadiums such as in Bloemfontein where busy fixtures schedule has to be accommodated. It is also used on pavements and other walkways. Most important in the domestic situation, All Seasons Evergreen® copes well with the challenge presented by kids and dogs. There is, however, a limit to the amount of traffic any lawn can tolerate. Pathways always develop where traffic is “funneled” through a confined space and the shortest route will carry the most traffic! In certain circumstances dog urine can burn patches in the lawn but these are easily dealt with.
Best times are spring and autumn. Avoid very hot or very cold times of the year. Remove existing grass If the area is in full sun and grasses such as Kikuyu were growing there before, it is important to get rid of them properly before establishing a new lawn. The underground runners of creeping grasses can be very persistent so you can’t simply dig it out. It is best to spray the existing grass with a non-selective weed killer.
If the soil is dry, water the area thoroughly a day or two before you begin soil preparation.
- Spread Super Phosphate at a rate of 50 g* per m² over the entire area (50 g is approx. one medium sized handful). *This is a general recommendation made in the absence of a soil test.
- Dig the area over incorporating the Super Phosphate to a depth of approx. 15 cm. At this point you could dig in some compost. This is not generally necessary and can cause problems if the compost contains weed seeds and is not well rotted. Never leave compost as a layer on top of the soil as it dries out far more easily than soil and this will not allow the seed to stay moist enough during the critical germination period.
- Break down clods to create a fine seedbed.
- Spread a balanced fertiliser such as 5:1:5 or 3:1:5 at 30 g per m² and rake into the surface of the soil.
Check levels by rolling the area lightly and then filling in any hollows. NB. It is very difficult to correct levels after the grass is established. Bunch grasses do not have runners, but tillers, which cannot be covered by a layer of soil.
Sowing the seed
Ensure that you have the right amount of seed, i.e. 1 kg per 25 m².
- Broadcast the seed over the area as evenly as possible by either using the 500g or 1 kg seed box as a spreader (see instructions on box), or if the seed has been purchased in bulk bags, by spreading by hand, or using a drop seeder. (A fertiliser spreader will do, as long as you have checked that it does not crush the seed).
To achieve an even spread, split the amount of seed in two, moving up and down with one half and across and back with the other. NB You don’t need to mix the seed with anything as it is bulky enough and pale in colour so it shows up easily against the dark soil.
Covering the seed
- Rake the area lightly (using a steel rake) so that most of the seed is covered by no more than 1cm of soil. Some seed will still be visible on the surface which doesn’t matter.
- Seeds need light to germinate so don’t bury it too deeply. Also, don’t cover with a layer of compost as it dries out too easily and may influence the germination success of the seeds!
It is essential to compact the area lightly. If you don’t have a roller, then use something like a drum on its side or simply trample lightly under foot. This step is very important as it bring the seed into direct contact with the moist soil, reduces wash-aways, and initiates capillary action (the movement of water upwards through the soil profile).
Start - When grass is 9 cm long. Set the mower at its highest setting (no less than 6cm).
Height - Sunny areas 2 to 5 cm (4 to 5 cm recommended as lower heights necessitates twice weekly mowing).
- Semi-shade 5 to 7 cm (the shadier the site, the longer the grass has to be).
- 1/3 rd RULE - Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at a time.
Frequency - Generally once a week (more frequently if cut shorter than 4 cm). Approximately once every three weeks in winter.
Type of mower - Rotary mowers are best for this type of grass (Reel type mowers can’t be set high enough).
Installation of an irrigation system is recommended especially for sunny sites. It does not need much more water than the average grass, but it cannot be allowed to go brown (It doesn’t have storage roots /stems like Kikuyu). At maturity, irrigate 25 - 30 mm per week in summer (2 or 3 times a week). In very hot weather syringe lightly at noon and 10 - 15 mm per week in winter (1 or 2 times a week). Once the grass has an established root system, the frequency of irrigation should be reduced. You should irrigate thoroughly 2 or 3 times a week making sure that the water gets down at least 6cm. Irrigating daily, but too lightly usually results in too much moisture at the surface and not enough in the root zone. The best times to irrigate are at night or in the morning. The worst time to irrigate is in the evening, because this extends the “Dew Period”, and keeps the leaves wet for too long a period. This can cause problems with fungal diseases. However, if the evening is the only available time, then it is better to water then than not at all! When it is very hot, you can reduce heat stress by “syringing” the grass. This is a very short irrigation cycle (a couple of minutes) that cools the grass leaves down. Hot, dry times of the year will necessitate an increase in irrigation. Dry areas will be stressed and more susceptible to disease. Sunny areas of the garden need more water than shady areas. An irrigation system with different zones to accommodate these differences is an advantage. Otherwise supplementary irrigation in the sunny parts will be required. The top of extreme slopes dry off very quickly. Check that your irrigation system is delivering evenly by placing containers of equal size randomly on the lawn, and observing the difference in water volume after an irrigation cycle. Don’t over water (especially in the shade). Avoid puddles. The grass needs water when it is has a blue-ish tinge and the leaf blades curl inwards.
50 g (approximate one handful) per m² of 5:1:5 or 3:1:5 four times a year (e.g. Jan, Apr, Jul, Oct). Don’t forget the April application to avoid brown tips in winter. Slow release formulations are recommended as lawns do best when fertilised little and often.
Pests and Diseases
Take careful note of the symptoms, i.e. spots on leaves, size and location of patches etc. and phone us or speak to a specialist in this field. Remember that insects and fungal diseases know nothing about straight lines, so if you see straight lines look for a man-made problem! Healthy, actively growing lawn is less susceptible to everything so don’t skimp on fertilising (you can’t avoid regular mowing!). Good air flow reduces humidity and helps to avoid disease (watch out for this in shady areas). Don’t over water or underwater — both cause stress to all grasses.
Dog urine can sometimes cause scorching. This is more common with spayed bitches and in very hot weather. If a brown patch develops, pull the dead grass out, loosen the soil a bit , sprinkle some seed (available in small Top Up packs at most nurseries), cover with a thin layer of soil (just scratch it in) and trample lightly under foot. This is less of a pain than continuous edge trimming Kikuyu, as long as you aren’t trying to keep four Alsatians on 100 m² of lawn!
This grass tolerates traffic very well. It is even used on rugby fields! However, where traffic is excessive the pressure can be reduced by setting paving stones or sleepers into the grass and just mowing over the top.
The best way to avoid weeds is to have actively growing grass forming a dense canopy that does not allow light through to the soil surface. Fertilise and mow regularly and you will literally “cut out” the majority of problems. Ask a specialist before spraying a herbicide.
Aerating and Top dressing
Spiking or hollow tining: Use a garden fork or tining fork on highly compacted areas. Push the whole length of the tine into the soil and lift slightly to get good water and air penetration.
Top dressing: Never cover this grass with a layer of soil or compost! The grass will die.