Recently, we introduced a Turf Specialist, David Cole, to the Botanic Horticulture Team. David brings four decades’ experience managing and maintaining lawns and greens across Victoria for both public and private golf courses, sporting fields and high-end private residences. His extensive knowledge in fine turf management will be an invaluable asset to our garden services.
Here, David shares his knowledge for the different types of turfs and applications in producing pristine, flawless lawns.
Hi David, a common question we often get asked is ‘what type of turf should I use’?
To identify the most suitable turf for our clients, we firstly need to ascertain the level of usage for a lawn. Will it be merely decorative? Will it need to endure sport or constant use by kids and dogs? Secondly, we discuss how much upkeep and maintenance our clients want to put into their lawn. And thirdly, we determine the location and conditions of the site. Are we looking at a warm or cool climate grass type? Is there full sun or mostly shade? Does the block slope?
Generally, turf varieties are cultivated to endure specific weather conditions and usage. In cooler climates like Melbourne and South of the Divide, we’re more suited to cool season grasses like RTF (Rhizomatous Tall Fescue). RTF is popular because it’s one of the most drought tolerant of the cool season grasses due to its self-repairing nature.
Couch and Zoysia are warm season grasses, although can and do get used in cooler climates like Victoria. They’re both hardwearing and drought tolerant but require reasonable to full sun. Kikuyu and Buffalo grasses don’t need as much sun, but they’re not as hard wearing.
Budget also plays its part. We generally recommend high quality products because they produce a better turf with a denser, hardier surface.
When’s the best time to install new turf?
Again, it comes down to climate. With warm season grasses, it’s best to install October through to March. For cooler climates like Victoria and with a turf such as RTF, we ideally aim for March to May, but RTF can generally be laid all year round.
What prep work needs to happen prior to installing turf?
It may be necessary for us to do a soil test prior to installation to determine any necessary amendments. For example, if soil quality is poor, we look at introducing quality soil or sand that’s free draining. Ideally, we like a soil depth between 150mm to 250mm. Depending on site conditions, it may also be necessary to put drainage in to remove excess water.
What happens after installation?
We top dress the turf with coarse sand to help hold the turf down and stimulate growth. After installation, effective irrigation is essential to keep the turf damp. We tend to use pop-up sprinklers because of their reliability. We’re frequently adjusting irrigation levels and checking sprinklers.
Depending on the turf and time of year, this process takes approximately two-three weeks. We also fertilise again four weeks after laying then we can begin mowing. Mowing takes the tip off the leaf to stimulate growth and thickness for a healthier lawn.
After six-eight weeks, your lawn is finished and ready for you to enjoy!