Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Turf Laying - Tips and Tricks

Laying turf is not all that difficult. As in most things, some reasonable preparations make the experience more pleasant. Lifting and moving the rolls of sod is heavy work, but it can pay off handsomely.....instant lawn!

A good friable, ripped or cultivated sub grade or base, covered by a modest amount of a clean, weed free sandy topsoil are prime ingredients. Locally, coarse sand is a preferred option based on cost and availability and most does generally come free of weeds. However, any sandy topsoil can be used effectively. Turf grows best in the medium and longer term on a sandy soil. It compacts less and allows higher infiltration. At least 50mm is needed. Avoid heavier clay or silty soils. They can be very hard when drier.

Have the area graded to the desired level - even by hand is satisfactory. Place a good NPK mixed fertiliser on the topsoil, ie below the turf sod. Plan for the finished height to be at or slightly below any hard surfaces such as paths.

Lay out the turf rolls and open them out. Make sure they are tightly butted together, along and between the row. Cut and trim the turf around objects. It gets tricky when odd shaped areas are involved, so have a plan to allow for those issues. You can work across the turf as you lay the area, and I prefer to use a plank on the area if you are moving turf rolls into place by wheelbarrow. This option reduces the chance of any indentations developing.

Thoroughly roll the area with a moderate weight roller to ensure good contact between the turf and the topsoil, then water thoroughly. A quick light weight roll the next day is often worthwhile to ensure close contact between sod and topsoil after the area has settled a little.

Keep the area well watered for at least 7-14 days, depending on the weather. This is absolutely vital in warmer areas, and may mean irrigation several times a day, particularly in daylight hours for a few days. In warm weather root development is usually very quick if water is readily available......fine roots extending into the topsoil are seen within a few days. That is what you want.....they are searching for water and nutrients, and these roots will quickly anchor the sod.

What you do not want is something like this situation below, seen recently on a major unit development. The turf was probably laid before Christmas..........and ignored. Turf can be tough and recover, but at least give it a fair chance of surviving. Turf sod is more expensive, and laying turf correctly will protect your investment in an instant lawn.

I guess these areas were not watered after laying the a few other issues too!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Humour Time over Greenhouse Emissions

The time has come to lighten up on the discussion about Greenhouse Gases. And nothing more appropriate than on 15 December, the day Australia will announce the form of the Australian Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme or Emmission Trading Scheme [ETS].

What's the betting that it pleases few. Seems that is the way it goes these days.


At least there is a laugh in it, at last.

cartoon copyright - Parker and Hart

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Compadre Seeded Zoysia - Excellent Performance in Tough Tropical Conditions

Compadre zoysia was the recent choice by a Darwin landscape architecture firm for a tough assignment.........the surrounds to a large major roundabout in Darwin.

This area is at the entrance to the new Waterfront precinct, and will be a prominently noted feature as one drives into the area.
The earlier post showed the area after about 8 weeks. There had been issues about over-irrigation, and weeds were a significant issue which the contractor was unable to adequately manage. Our company provided asistance in managing and eliminating the weeds, and correcting the irrigation timing and volumes that have helped rescue the site.

The areas have also been mowed regularly, but probably not as low as desirable partly due to the type of larger mower used, and partly due to surface irregularities. A number of sections of the area were damaged by heavy vehicles overriding the curb and damaging the turf.

Over the past month as the weather warmed, and irrigaton has been reduced [ yes- reduced, now relying almost entirely on rainfall] the turf has responded vigorously.

The photos are at approximately 16 weeks after establishment, which was slow, as when established it was still cool at night. There has been little change in turf quality over the past 4 weeks, but the weeds are now very much reduced......regular mowing is very useful to beat the weeds.

It looks terrific! If Compadre can do as well as this in a difficult site, with poor subgrades and a shallow topsoil, it CAN do it for your site - home, oval, open space. And at a lower cost than sod.

REMEMBER - seed is currently in very short supply until mid 2009. A modest quantity is still available through Above Capricorn Technologies..........send us an e-mail for a price.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Zoysia matrella - Maybe Still the Best Turf for the Tropics

Zoysia matrella has been around quite a long time as a premier turf in the tropics. Available only in vegetative material, and often more expensive due to slower growth on turf farms. This alone sometimes puts potential users off, and they switch to another turf type.

Using a zoysia matrella turf will save you money. Slightly more expensive to install initially, whether as turf sod, plugs or as sprigs, the savings accrue once it is installed. Less mowing, fewer disease issues, lower fertiliser needs, lower irrigation demands [ not the lowest, but near the lowest] are some of the tangible factors that swing the balance towards this type of turf, and in fact, most of the zoysia varieties. Some of the less tangible factors are noted below as well.

The preferred mowing option is to use a cylinder mower - it gives the best result. An ordinary rotary mower is satisfactory, particularly if not cut at a low height, and many homeowners use that type, as well as many commercial operators. Most commercial hire companies have verticutters or dethatchers for hire.

Relatively few varieties are available and one that is still among the better types is the interspeciifc hybrid commonly known as Emerald. It is a fine leaved, dense turf, and resistant to weed invasion once a dense cover is established.

The form available in Darwin is close to Emerald, but never verified as to what if any variety, although it has been around the region for at least close to 50 years. It is highly shade tolerant, especially if you leave the turf a little higher, is not itchy when sitting on the turf or children rolling or playing on the area without a shirt on, or playing rugby. Very wear resistant too. And with modern slow release fertilisers, thatch is considerably reduced.

Thatch control is an ongoing management requirement. But on a very high profile public area in Darwin where we are advisors, the area which is well fertilised, is only dethatched at most once a year, and was not done at all for the first 6-7 years. Regular dethatching does help improve performance in all zoysias, and removes the puffiness.

The following photos are actually at our home, with the turf a bit longer than normal, but has not been mown for about six months! Yes......definitely overdue, especially for someone working in the turf industry.

It is a great turf option.