Its so Hot and dry, is it a good time to install a new lawn?

It’s getting hotter, and in doing so it is getting dyer. And this is a real concern to people putting down a new lawn. Many people are putting off installing a new lawn “until it rains”. 

There is a lot of misconceptions about the amount of water that you need to have a beautiful lush green lawn. Many people think that your water bill will be quadrupled and that it is a waste of water. Well if you drown your lawn it  most definitely is. It will also do real damage to your lawn, possibly killing it. Using a smart guide to watering your new lawn will ensure that no water is “wasted” and that your lawn is only getting the amount of water that it requires. 

Preparation is the key to any good result. And in the case of your new lawn, preparation comes in the form of  having a healthy soil base. This will ensure that you have a healthy green lawn. Your soil will be the deciding factor in if your water is just leached away, drowns your lawn, or if the water stay near the root systems. 

A good soil, means a Great lawn and less watering bills.

Your Under Turf Soil should be fluffy and airy. It should have 5 main components according to REDMAN, RODGERS, RUCK and TRANTER (2011). This is no matter where you live! It should have 

  1. Organic Matter. – This means that it needs decomposing plants and animals within the soil to provide nutrients and organic elements to the soil which is essential to plant health. Remember the old Blood and Bone that our Grandparents used to love to spread? The decomposing material will also enable the soil to hold its structure. This is really important to allow the movement of water and air though the soil to get to the root system. 
  2. Minerals – These are usually provided by natural soft “rocks” which break down into the soil. They provide natural elements that the roots system can take up to keep your lawn healthy. They also hold the soils shape. 
  3. Air – This sounds strange, doesn’t it? Because Air is not something that we associate with under ground. But the movement of oxygen underground is essential to not only the roots of the plant (they take up oxygen via their root systems as well) but also to the Living organisms within our soils. The pockets of air around the soil particles allows the water to move through the soil to the root system and then move away as well so no root rot occurs. 
  4. Water – The water dissolves all the minerals and decomposed organic matter and makes it available to the root systems to absorb. Water does also , obviously, hydrate the plant. 
  5. Living Organisms – Now this is not meant to be Lawn grubs. They are bad and nasty. Living organisms means your worms, and microscopic life forms like beneficial nematodes and good plant enriching funguses which help the lawns root systems. The worms poo and leave great food for the roots to absorb. The nematodes keep away the scarab beetles that eat the root systems, and the good funguses create pathways and healthy soils for the roots to live in. Some of your living organisms can be imported, like from a worm farm through castings, which can be added anytime during the life of your lawn.  And others can be mixed through the soil before you lay your turf, like a mushroom compost which has so many wonderful ingredients. 

In preparing your soil, remember that talking to your local landscape yard is vital. Your local soil person will know if your suburb has a sand or clay as the base. And then they can recommend to you which mix is best for your new lawn. At Coastal Turf after many years of experience with lawns on the Gold Coast, Tweed Coast, and Byron Coasts, we know that the best possible soil you can get for your lawn is usually the Garden soil mix from your landscape yard. Most of the soils on our coasts are mostly sandy. Some places have heavy clay soils. And the lucky places have rich soils. 

A Garden soil mix has all the wonderful ingredients to maintain your new lawns health. But if you are on a budget, tell your Soil person what you believe you have there now, and they might create a mix of Sandy Loam, Clay and Compost. Some Yards have a turf underlay. 

Just ensure you are not importing sand into your already sandy soils. This will mean that the water will drain way too quickly. And long waterings will mean you loose your water, and the roots will absorb little to none. An if you are on hard clay, long waterings will mean that water pools and “drowns” the root system, leaving it open to infections that can kill your lawn faster than dehydration! 

To ensure that your soil is perfect for your new lawn, remember 4 things

  1. It should be dark in colour. Almost like the colour of Dark Lindt Chocolate ball. You may need to buy some to compare. And congratulate yourself on having good soil. 
  2. It should have a smell to it. Not delicious like the Dark Chocolate Lindt Ball, but a bit of an icky one.  So not one that you want to rub all over your body. But a smell that the dog will want to roll in. 
  3. And it should stand up to the fist ball tests. This sounds yuck right? But it is really easy and simple, and not yuck at all. All it requires is that  pick up a small amount of soil and squeeze it in your fist really hard. Then slowly open your hand. If the ball of soil stays together then you have a healthy soil that will make your lawn really happy, that will require less watering. If it crumbles and falls apart, you need to do some soil improvements. See…….
  4. Have at least 50mm of soil under your new turf. Preferably 150mm. By having a deep healthy soil under your new turf you are ensuring that there is food and water to nourish your lawn for years to come. 

By having this healthy soil, choosing a drought tolerant grass, (see our turf table here) and following our watering guide you ensure you are never wasting water. And you will have a green lush lawn. A Win-Win  really.