Monthly Archives: July 2010

  • Scarification

    Scarification is a very important thing to do for your lawn . In spring (and autumn for that matter) scarification is best combined with other things, like top dressing, seeding and applying fertiliser. However, where scarification is combined with other planned work, we must stress that it should be completed first. We have had discussions with lawn owners who have fertilised and top-dressed and then remembered that they should also scarify. If this happens, it will be better to leave any intensive scarification until the autumn. That said a little light scarification could be beneficial during good growing conditions in the summer, once the effect of the other spring operations have borne fruit.

    Assuming that the work has been planned well and the lawn is scarified prior to any other spring operations (excluding mowing, which should continue on a regular basis both before and after scarification) effective scarification will improve the quality of the lawn. It will also improve the effectiveness of the other operations that follow. In this regard, if you still have the energy, you do not have to wait to do any other planned work once the scarification is complete. Seeding and top dressing can follow straight away!

    Why?

    Having considered when to scarify, it is appropriate to ask why. Scarification is carried out to remove organic matter from around the base of the grass plants and tidy up any straggly lateral growth. In a nutshell, scarification removes material, probably in the form of thatch or moss that will otherwise prevent good dense grass growth. If you do not scarify, debris will build up and lead to other problems. Thatchy and mossy lawns will not be very wear or drought tolerant. Once the space has been created around the base of the grass plants, the trick is to encourage the grass to fill the space. There are two important points to make here. Firstly, do not scarify too early in the spring. It is important that the grass is growing fairly well and that any space created is filled by desirable lawn grasses. If growth is slow, there is a higher risk that the gaps will be filled with unwanted weeds or weed-grasses. Secondly, encourage grass growth after scarification. This is where other operations like fertilisation will be beneficial.

    Finally, be careful not to over do it. Hand scarification is hard work. If you have a large lawn, it will be better to use a machine.

  • Preparing For Your New Turf

    We'll need to answer these three questions first:

    1. Do you know how much turf you need?
    2. Have you prepared your soil for turf?
    3. Do you know how to water and fertilise your soil before the turf arrives?

    If you cannot answer yes to all of these questions, the following information should ensure that your new turf remains as beautiful as it looks the day it arrives.

    General Description

    Your new turf will grow best when your soil is prepared in such a way as to encourage deep, rapid rooting. Buying excellent quality turf is not enough on its own to ensure a beautiful lawn. You must prepare your soil. Poor soil and poor soil preparation will cause the turf to decline and may even result in the death of the turf. Mixing in a pre-turfing fertiliser and adding water to your soil prior to laying the turf will ensure successful establishment.

    Rolawn Turf & Lawn Seeding Topsoil provides the ideal base on which to lay turf. It is blended with Rolawn GroRight® Lawn Establishment Fertiliser to help ensure a lawn gets the best possible start. Alternatively Rolawn Soil Improver can be used to enhance existing soil.

    How much turf should you order?

    1. Draw a sketch of the area you want to lay turf on to.
    2. Draw rectangles over your sketch (they should not overlap). Do this even if your lawn is a circular or oval shape.
    3. Whilst standing in the area due to be turfed, mark out the corners of your rectangles on the ground. In the case of an irregular shaped lawn, adapt the rectangles as closely as possible to the shape of the lawn.
    4. Measure and record on your sketch, the lengths and widths of all your rectangles.
    5. Calculate the area of each rectangle: length (metres) X width (metres) = area (sq. metres).
    6. Add the areas of all rectangles. This is approximately the amount of turf you will need.
    7. Add 5% extra for shaping, cutting, waste etc. Use our Product Calculator to help you work out how much you need.

    How to prepare your soil for new turf

    1. Your soil should be turned over or cultivated to at least 100mm deep, ideally 150mm. It is best to do this when the soil is fairly dry. Rake over to obtain a fine tilth. This will ensure good contact with the turf when it is laid. 'Heel' in well and repeat 2 or 3 times.
    2. Apply a base starter fertiliser to the soil. Follow the manufacturer's instructions. As a general guide, look for a fertiliser containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, for example, a 7:7:7 formulated fertiliser. Rolawn GroRight® Lawn Establishment Fertiliser is ideal. Rake or till the fertiliser into the top 25mm of the soil.
    3. Rake the soil smooth and remove all stones and other debris (greater than 6mm) and any perennial weeds.
    4. Two days before the turf is to arrive, water the soil to a depth of 75mm (3") to make the soil moist.
  • How to Identify High Quality Turf

    1. Quality Rolawn TurfWas top rated independently tested seed used to produce the turf?
    2. Is the turf neatly stacked, consistently cut and well presented?
    3. Are the edges of the rolls sharp (not ragged)?
    4. Are the pieces of your turf free of holes or tears?
    5. Is there no more than 6mm of thatch in the turf?
    6. Is the turf neatly mown, dense and rich green in colour?
    7. Is the turf completely free of broad leaf weeds?

    If you answer yes to the above questions, you purchased excellent quality turf. The descriptions below will explain why these features are important to the quality and performance of your turf.

    General description of quality turfgrass

    The most important quality of turf is the seed from which it was produced. The only way for you to determine which types of seed were used to produce a turf is to ask the producer. For turf to be stacked neatly, it must be carefully harvested from the soil to ensure a uniform thickness. The thickness of turf rolls is critical for good, rapid establishment once the turf has been laid. Turf rolls that have a soil layer greater than 6mm will root more slowly than those with less than 6mm. However, a soil layer of less than 3mm will tend to dry out during transportation and will require much greater amounts of water once it is laid.

    The ability of a turf producer to consistently harvest turf is governed by several factors

    1. The age of the turf being harvested.
    2. The skill of the harvesting operators.
    3. The texture of the soil on the turf farm.

    How old should quality turf be?

    In general, the younger the turf the better it will perform for you. Young turf roots faster and deeper and generally requires less care to establish. Very young turf, however, presents some problems to both the producer and the installer. This turf is difficult to harvest because it will tear, or is not uniform and holes can result. Very young turf is tender and weak and will break apart during installation. These difficulties cost both the producer and the installer time and money. It is not necessary to harvest turf that is this young. The ideal age of turf which will harvest and install easily is 12-14 months.

    Remember:

    Turf that can be harvested is generally old enough to be easily installed. A good quality producer will ensure that the turf meets both criteria.

    Can good quality turf be too old?

    Yes, turf that grows too long on the farm will perform poorly compared to turf that is approximately 14 months old. Older turf tends to have more thatch, lose colour and density, root slower, and require more water, fertiliser, and care for establishment. You can often identify older turf because it is very light (in weight), is very difficult to tear, has a substantial thatch layer and a very thin layer of soil. To ensure you are getting good quality turf, ask your landscaper or producer how old the turf is.

    How should the turf look when it is first unrolled?

    The turf should look excellent. In the industry this is called roll-out quality and a producer's reputation is, in part, established on the appearance of the turf when the customer first unrolls it. To ensure that the roll-out quality is the best, Rolawn will mow and sweep the turf immediately prior to harvest, place it on a lorry minutes after it is cut, and transport it to you. Turf that is harvested and transported properly will be beautiful in appearance and cool to the touch when unrolled.

    Should each roll of turf be identical in appearance and size?

    No, but they should be pretty close. The best turf producers will generally harvest the turf from one field before moving into another field. This ensures uniformity. Turf will also change in appearance during the year. That is to say, turf harvested in March could look different from that harvested in July or October. A good quality producer will strive to supply a uniform product. Slight differences in the colour of the turf at roll-out are less important than the age of the turf. Colour differences will dissipate with time, old turf will only get older.

    REMEMBER:

    A good quality turf producer is proud of every roll of turf sold. Ask those important questions about how the turf is produced and transported, and inspect the turf when it first arrives. If you believe the turf is not good quality, discuss it with your landscaper or producer at the point of delivery or collection.

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