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Lawn and gardening tips for Canberra?

By spades - 8 October 2013 5

I moved to Canberra last year, bought a house early this year and had turf laid in my backyard last month.

Most gardening websites have told me to water lawns daily until established, then slowly move towards a once weekly regime. But after having spoken to a couple of locals, they claim that many websites do not take into consideration the many possible climates its readers could come from.

So are there any specific gardening tips seasoned Canberrans can give me? I know that summers here very hot and the sun is up until past 8:30pm. Does that affect how often you water lawns?

Is it true that water restrictions here are pretty much death sentences for grass?

What’s Your opinion?


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5 Responses to
Lawn and gardening tips for Canberra?
curlylocks 10:45 pm 08 Oct 13

And you will need a good sprinkler as well any POPE branded one is great. 🙂

Pitchka 2:16 pm 08 Oct 13

2 words – Dynamic Lifter

This stuff is the sh&t, buy the pellets, i think they come in a 25kg bag.. This stuff is fantastic, for everything. Mind you, until it starts to break down, it stinks really bad..

enrique 2:01 pm 08 Oct 13

I love a good lawn… (man, I must be getting old)

-2. Make sure you’ve prepped the site and soil well in the first place – grass in Canberra grows well with a deep base of good soil, don’t rely on our in-situ stuff, it has too much clay or rock.

-1. Use a predominantly fescue variety, with perhaps a bit of bluegrass thrown in. Fescue copes well with the cold Canberra winters (stays green) and handles the heat pretty well. Buffalo looks crap in winter (goes brown) and couch just sucks (it’ll sneak into your garden beds and you’ll never be rid of it!). Don’t get me wrong, buffalo and couch have their place but perhaps that place just isn’t the urban Canberra backyard.

0. Get it established – yep, this takes planning, time, care and a fair bit of water.

1. Mow it regularly at the tallest setting – mow too low and you’re cutting into the roots and new shoot stock, mow to seldom and it gets too tall, thins out and casts shadow down to the base.

2. Keep it well fertilised – it’s a plant, it needs nutrients.

3. Keep it free from weeds – obvious really, weeds compete for water and nutrients

4. Once a year, de-thatch it – this will thin out the previous year’s dead stock and give the new growth room to move

5. Once a year, core it – this will aerate the roots

6. When you core it, neutralize the soil ph

7. Treat it for pests (beetles, grubs, etc) – if you don’t they’ll destroy the roots and what grass they don’t kill will be ripped up by birds trying to eat the bugs.

8. If possible, trim back any nearby trees – try and get a good balance of sunlight and protection from scalding midday summer rays

9. If you do water it, do it less frequently and for longer (i.e. ‘train’ the grass to grow deep roots by watering less often but with enough water to go deep into the soil)

10. During the warmer months, water at night after the sun has set to avoid wastage due to evaporation.

11. Do your part for the environment, get a water tank and use that whenever possible to water your lawn. Bear in mind, a small yard will consume quite a bit of water so get a fairly big tank or several if you’ve only got room for smaller ones

If you do all this above, you won’t need to water very much at all. Once a week deep watering will be fine.

In addition, read this…

http://www.actew.com.au/Community%20and%20Education/The%20Canberra%20Discovery%20Garden/Grass%20Roots%20-%20the%20turf%20and%20irrigation%20research%20project.aspx

http://www.actew.com.au/~/media/Files/ACTEW/Education/Grass%20Roots%20Cheat%20Sheet.ashx

http://www.actew.com.au/~/media/Files/ACTEW/Education/Grass%20Roots%20Full%20Report.ashx

Also, all those steps above are quite onerous. Save yourself the trial and error/hassle and give Simon from Alpine Lawn Care a call. He’ll come by at regular intervals and do it all for you at a good price. If you like a good lawn without the hassle, his results are worth it.

http://www.yellowpages.com.au/act/waramanga/alpine-lawn-care-co-13018314-listing.html

zorro29 1:45 pm 08 Oct 13

yeah canberra is hardly a gardener’s dream – the soil quality tends to be rather poor (a lot of it is heavy clay soil and rocky) and the climate is pretty rough (frosts, high winds, dry air, hot summers, minimal rain)

that said, you can buy plants that are /more/ suited to the climate (but no guarantees) – a good rule of thumb is to look at what kinds of plants/trees/shrubs/grasses are growing well in your neighbourhood and start from those

i had beautiful lush turf but it took a fair bit of maintenance. when it was first laid, daily watering (with a timed system). then, once established, i had 3 waterings a week for 50 mins at 5am. this was a good time to do the watering as it allowed the water time to seep into the soil but not too much (which can cause mould/clogging issues)

the most important part of lawn maintenance is the prep work – test the PH of the soil you have and adjust as needed (it’s likely you will need gypsum or something to break up the soil if you have clay)…clear of weeds (lay weed mats if you can)…set up irrigation systems…use good quality topsoil (and mix in water saving crystals and organic matter)…and finally ensure the lawn has a drainage point

canturf sell a product that is allegedly designed for canberra (with a higher % of clover in the mix) – don’t get this – the clover rapidly took over my lawn. stick with the regular canturf

then, other than that, aerate the soil in spring, sprinkle water crystals throughout the year…and mow often and long (weekly mowing but leave the grass long – cutting the grass infrequently and short is death for lush lawns in canberra)

uh, that’s all i can think of from my experience 🙂 good luck

Madam Cholet 1:21 pm 08 Oct 13

Buy a copy of The Canberra Gardener – will tell you what to do and when.

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