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26 May 2019

How To Mow Your Lawn

Mowing your lawn is an essential and easy part of backyard maintenance.

The best time to mow

The best time of the day to mow your lawn is around mid-morning. That’s because any dew or irrigated water will have dried up, and it should be before the heat of the day has set in. This is important because turf stress can occur when a short lawn is exposed on a hot sunny day.

Mowing your lawn will vary from season to season and your location, but generally mowing every second week in summer and every 2–5 weeks from autumn through winter will be enough. Spring mowing will vary due to rainfall levels and sunny days, so watch it closely and cut as required.

The ideal lawn height

The height of your lawn will depend on what type of grass you have. Perhaps the simplest rule of thumb is how your lawn looks. Looking untidy? Then it’s time for a trim. Typically, you should only be removing 30–40 percent of the grass blade each time you cut. If you cut any lower than that, you may be reducing your lawn’s root growth, which could hurt its long-term health.

Buffalo grass should be cut at 40–50mm, kikuyu is best kept at 40–45mm, whereas couch grass can be cut to 25–30mm. In shaded areas or the cooler months, you can keep your grass a little longer. And if you’re still not sure, kick your shoes off and take a walk on your lawn—it should feel nice underfoot without feeling like you’re sinking into it.

How to make a checker board pattern on your lawn

The checker board lawn pattern you see on sports fields is easier than you think to create at home. Also called lawn striping, it is created by using the blades of your lawnmower to bend the grass a certain way. Grass bent towards you looks darker than those bent the opposite way.

A simple way to get the checker board look is to mow in a straight line along the edge of your yard. Then turn around and mow a straight line the opposite way. Keep alternating directions until you’ve finish your yard. Then turn 90 degrees and mow lines across your yard in alternating directions.

Bag grass clippings

Leaving your lawn clippings on the ground after mowing can be beneficial because it allows valuable nutrients to return to your lawn. Clippings contain nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which are natural fertilisers. It’ll also save you time and energy when you’re mowing.

A popular myth is that leaving your clippings on your lawn after mowing can cause thatching. This is a layer of partially decomposed grass and organic matter lying between the soil and grass. As long as you mow regularly and the grass is at the same height, this won’t be a problem as your grass will break down naturally.

Mowing wet lawn

There are a few reasons why you shouldn’t mow your lawn when it’s wet. Disease can be spread through your grass when it’s wet so you need to be aware of any fungi or bacteria in your lawn. Cutting wet grass can also cause problems for your mower by sticking to its undercarriage. A good tip is to give your mower a thorough clean after use. You can also compact your soil when it’s wet, which can cause long-term damage.

If you are going to mow when it’s wet, a good tip is to have your mower blades sharpened. This is because wet grass can shred or tear instead of being cut, which can cause long-term grass damage. You could also raise your mower blades higher so you cut less grass, which will cause less problems for your lawn.

The right mower for the job

When choosing a lawn mower, a few things to consider are the type of grass you have, the size of your lawn and the type of terrain you will be cutting. A wider cutting lawn mower will help you mow larger areas faster. Electric, cordless or hand lawn mowers are ideal for smaller spaces and infrequent use. Although petrol and ride-on lawn mowers require servicing and fuel, they can easily tackle larger areas and rough terrain.

Lawn mowing safety

It’s important to stay safe when mowing your lawn. You should always wear protective goggles, gloves, earmuffs and closed-toe footwear. Stones and debris can fly a long way when hit by the cutting blade, so make sure when you’re mowing that there isn’t anyone around.

Before you start mowing, make sure that there isn’t anything lying on the lawn that will interfere with your cutting such as small toys, large sticks or rocks. It’s also important to remember to always turn the mower off before you empty the grass catcher, unclog the discharge chute, inspect underneath the mower or cross a gravel path.

credit: bunnings
26 May 2019

Tips To Keeping Your Grass Green

The key to a beautiful lawn is to keep it young and mowing promotes new growth. Warm climate grasses commonly found in Australia, need a close shave once a year to rejuvenate.

Top Tips
• Don’t scalp the grass
• Don’t mow grass that is stressed or wet
• Keep the mower blades sharp
• Mow regularly, never removing more than 1⁄3 of the height per cut
• Match the mowing height to the expected wear

Your lawn may not require as much water as you think. The frequency will depend on the weather, the type of grass and the soil conditions.
Top Tips
• Only water when your lawn needs it – change of colour may indicate water needs
• A lawn should be partly dried out between watering as it allows air to get to the root system and creates a more drought resistant lawn
• One deep watering is far more beneficial than frequent shallow watering – and it will save you time (In a Sydney summer for example, a deep watering is about 15mm)
• The best time to water is early in the morning or late afternoon when less water is lost through evaporation. Avoid watering in the evening or at night as the lawn will remain wet encouraging disease
• Your lawn may become dormant in periods of dry weather without watering, however, if the soil is kept moist, it will survive and in the rainy season come back as good as ever

Top dressing is only needed for an extra smooth surface.
Top Tips
• Shave lawn first
• Use a washed river sand and never make it more than 1cm deep
• Work top dressing in until some leaf shows
• You may use an organic fertiliser under the top dressing if required

Most pests are specific to regional areas and expert advice should be sought if you have a serious problem.

A well maintained lawn should require little weeding or none at all. Hand weeding is generally the best solution for most lawns and is often good exercise too. Where serious weeds occur or become a problem, consult a lawn specialist.

Lawns will always require some maintenance from wear and tear.
Top Tips
• Avoid soil compaction by using a garden fork to break up and aerate the ground. Normally this does not need to be done more than once per year – the best time of year is spring
• The best method is to use the fork moving backwards. Drive the fork in vertically and lever it through 30 degrees to lift and crack the ground. Keep doing this at 15 cm intervals
• It’s easy to patch worn areas by turning new grass into the worn areas
• Lift a flap of soil and put grass runners half in and half out parallel to the ground
• Keep the patched area damp until the roots have taken hold

Credit www.turfaustralia.com.au
26 May 2019

Plants To Grow In Your Garden – Central Coast NSW

There are reputed to be some 2,300 Australian native plant species indigenous to the N.S.W. Central Coast in the Gosford and Wyong areas. Many of these are especially suitable as garden plants, because they do well in our local soils and climatic conditions. Some are very hardy and tolerant of most soil types; others, and particularly some of the spectacular favourites, are less forgiving and have special requirements for success. Site conditions can often vary over small distances, eg. the shallow sandstone soils of Kariong, the deep former rain forest soils of the Narara Valley, and the ocean front soils along the coast provide very different growing conditions. What is admirably suited to one site may fail hopelessly in another.

Ultimate size of trees should be matched to the site. Avoid large trees on small residential blocks. Remember that what looks like a small seedling may grow to a substantial size. It would be prudent to find a mature tree of the type you wish to plant. That way you would know how large they can grow.

Reminder – Most native plants that fail to survive in our garden have been killed with kindness- over watering, too much fertiliser, too rich a soil mixture. This is why some over-zealous gardeners mistakenly think of native species as ‘drop dead plants’.

Below are listed some of the local species that are regularly available in plant nurseries.

Reliable small trees or large trees

  • Native frangipani – Hymenosporum flavum: 3-8 metres. Fast growing. Cream scented flowers in spring.
  • Willow bottlebrush – Callistemon salignus: 3-5 metres. Attractive pink new growth. Papery bark.
  • Coast wattle – Acacia sophorae: 3 metres. Dense foliage. Good in sandy soil near the sea.
  • Grey myrtle – Backhousia myrtifolia: 2-4 metres. Ornamental specimen tree. Long lasting pale green bracts after flowering.
  • NSW Christmas bush – Ceratopetalum gummiferum: 5 metres. Spectacular ornamental tree.
  • Pink/red bracts after flowering in mid- summer.

Reliable flowering shrubs and ground covers

  • Coast rosemary – Westringia fruticosa: 1 metre. White flowers. Hardy and drought resistant. Needs
    tip pruning.
  • Hairpin Banksia – Banksia spinulosa: 2 metres. Spectacular banksia brushes with black styles. Full of bird attracting nectar. Cultivar ‘Birthday Candles’ is a compact form to 600mm.
  • Dog rose – Bauera rubioides: 1 metre. Long flowering. Prefers semi-shade and moist conditions.
  • Crowea saligna: 1 metre. Pink star shaped flowers. Thrives in semi-shade and moist conditions.
  • Mint bush – Prostanthera ovalifolia: 1 metre. Dark green fragrant foliage. Profuse mauve flowers in spring.
  • Cut-leaf mint bush – Prostanthera incisa: 1 metre. Aromatic foliage. Profuse mauve flowers in spring.
  • Native rosella – Hibiscus heterophylla: 2 metres. Large white or yellow hibiscus flowers. Needs regular pruning.
  • Lilly pilly – Syzygium australe: 3 metres. Glossy green foliage. White flowers in spring, then edible red fruits. Many new decorative cultivars are available.
  • Black-eyed Susan – Tetratheca thymifolia: 300mm. Compact ground cover. Profuse dark purple flowers. (Note There are at least 3 other plants popularly known as Black-eyed Susan. That is why botanical names are necessary.)
  • Hop Goodenia – Goodenia ovata: 1 metre. Yellow flowers. Hardy and long flowering in semi shade.

Climbers and Trailing Plants

  • Wonga vine – Pandorea pandorana: Vigorous climber. Cream flowers in spring. Many cultivars available.
  • Golden guinea flower – Hibbertia scandens: Low scrambling vine. Large golden yellow flowers throughout the year.
  • Native violet – Viola hederacea: Ground cover. Very hardy. Useful as a spreading cover in wet areas or under trees.
  • False sarsaparilla – Hardenbergia violacea: Vigorous climber. Spectacular purple flowers in spring. A more compact cultivar ‘Mini Haha’ is available.

More difficult plants with special requirements

  • Native Fuchsia – Epacris longiflora: Emblem of Gosford City. Trailing stems of striking red and white tube flowers. Needs a moist spot in low nutrient stony sand.
  • Swamp Banksia- Banksia robur: 3 metres. Bright bottle green banksia flowers. Best in swampy ground.
    Common correa – Correa reflexa: 1 metre. Red and green tube flowers in spring. Hardy cultivars available e.g. Correa ‘Marions Marvel’ with pink and green flowers. Prefers part shade.
  • Box leaf wax flower Philotheca buxifolius: syn. Eriostemon buxifolius. 1 metre. Clusters of pink and white star flowers in late winter and spring. Needs well drained sandy soil.
  • Pink wax flower Eriostemon australasius: 1 metre. Spectacular pink star-shaped flowers in spring. Does best in well drained stony sand with sandstone pebble mulch.
  • Pink spider flower Grevillea sericea: 1 metre. Long flowering. Hardy. Low phosphorus sandy soil. Many cultivars available.
    Red spider flower Grevillea speciosa: 1 metre. Striking red flowers. Thrives in low phosphorus
    sandy soil.
  • Flannel flower Actinotus helianthi: Wyong floral emblem. Does best in low nutrient sandy soil. Compact forms available.
    Waratah Telopea speciosissima: 2 metres. Spectacular red or cream flowers. Many new cultivars are hardier and more reliable. Needs perfect drainage.
  • Wedding bush Ricinocarpos pinifolius: 1 metre. White star shaped flowers in spring. Needs low nutrient moist sand in part shade.

Credit: www.australianplants.org