Magnificent lawns and gardens surround the Baroque Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, formerly the 1441 rooms summer pad for the Habsburg emperors, dating back to 1569. The name translates as “beautiful fountain” and has its roots in an artesian well providing water for the court.
For Alice Springs people 451 years later and on the other side of the world, GOFF MIERS (pictured) has lawn tending hints with more modest ambitions.
He writes lawns require minimal but regular care over the hottest months to keep them looking great with regularity being the key to guaranteeing a healthy, lush lawn.
Lawn care maintenance activities include mowing, edging, adjusting watering regimes, fertilising and watching for the presence of lawn grub or beetle.
If your lawn is looking a little tired and it hasn’t been fed for some time an application of fertiliser maybe required now.
An application of a complete NPK lawn fertiliser now will give your lawn a much needed boost in readiness for tackling the long hot months ahead.
This can further be complimented by giving the lawn an application of a high nitrogen fertiliser to promote healthy top growth in about four weeks.
It is critical that you take extra care when fertilising your lawn as it is so easy to burn your lawn and do irreparable damage.
When applying fertiliser to the lawn fertilise in sections that can be immediately watered as fertiliser can cause severe foliage burn if not watered in properly. This burning off of the lawn can occur literally within minutes of application if inadequately watered.
In the hottest weeks mow the lawn weekly and cut one notch higher as regularly cut grass is less likely to burn. Cutting the grass slightly higher also provides increased protection and will promote increased vigour more able to withstand the harsh conditions.
Keep lawn edges in check, particularly if rain is present, as growth can be vigorous with couch, buffalo or kikuyu runners quickly creeping into garden beds if left unchecked.
Lawns irrigated by sprinklers can lose a large quantity of water if watered during the heat of the day. Water lawns in the evening, night or early morning if the watering is undertaken manually.
With automatic irrigation controllers water in the early hours of the morning for best results and for minimising water loss through evaporation.
Lawn grub or army worm and black beetle and its larvae the pasture cockchafer are two pests that can cause severe damage to the lawn at this time of the year, with the lawn grub or army worm able to eat out a lawn literally in a few days.
Many times I’ve seen lush lawns eaten out within a week. Lawns should be inspected daily or at the very least every few of days.
Watch for the first signs of yellowing, thatch seemingly appearing (that’s dead grass) or for sections of the lawn that look like they have been mowed in which case you will have army worm eating off the top of your lawn. If the lawn is simply turning brown or dying off its likely it is African Black Beetle or its larvae that is feeding on the roots of your lawn grasses.
If you suspect lawn grub or beetle flood the area of lawn that appears affected and watch for them coming to the surface intent on escaping the water.
Alternatively place a wet double sheet of Hessian or some other cloth material over a section of the lawn and examine first thing in the morning for grubs underneath. The material needs to remain moist to attract the grubs.
Beware that sometimes the wet Hessian and the flooding trick does not bring the grub or beetle to the surface, sometimes they burrow deeper and are not visible at all, they don’t like the light and hot sun.
Alternatively if the lawn is deteriorating quickly and you know its being cared for adequately simply jump to action to arrest further damage.
Prior to any treatment give the lawn a good deep watering and then apply your remedy.
A good water maybe required as with certain chemical controls you maybe advised to not water for a day or two after chemical application.
Further the moist ground can ensure better penetration by the chemical if that is required to treat the pests present within the immediate top soil below the grass.
If applying a granular chemical consider blending the same quantity of white sand with the chemical as this will ensure you are not over applying the granular treatment and will achieve a more even spread.
If watering in then initially give a light application of water to dissolve the chemical and treat only the top few centimetres where the grubs maybe present either in the thatch (the dead grass immediately above the soil) or in the soil just below the grass.
After an hour then give a longer water as this will move the chemical further down into the soil. This maybe necessary as the larvae of the African Black Beetle can be found up to a spade depth down in the soil.
Importantly you need to apply another treatment in 10 to 14 days in an attempt to kill off any new grubs born since the first application. By applying two applications you can break the life cycle of the grass munching pest, otherwise you maybe fighting a continuous battle over the entire Summer.
Alternatively if you have army worm that eats the blades of grass on the top give consideration to using a product called Dipel as it is a safe environmentally friendly alternative.
Dipel is a biological control that is totally safe for humans, domestic pets, birds, reptiles, etc in the garden, it only affects grubs and caterpillars.
Water the lawn well and once the grass is dry spray the lawn with Dipel and do not water for three days. The grubs will consume grass that has been sprayed, the bacteria within the spray will be activated, the grubs will stop eating and subsequently perish.
After applying Dipel initially repeat at five to seven days and again at 10 to 14 days as the Dipel will be washed off once watering is again commenced. The second and third application is required to break the breeding cycle.
Equally with chemical control don’t forget a repeat application is recommended 10 to 14 days after the initial application to break the breeding cycle.
A healthy, lush green lawn can provide such a refreshing cool aspect to the garden, one most certainly appreciated at this time of the year.
As it gets hotter you may have to water for a little longer or more frequently. Simply monitor your lawn and by watching closely your lawn will show signs of stress and its then you need to change your watering schedule.