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To Turf or Seed

To Turf or Seed

We get this question many times at week here at Centenary Landscaping Supplies. Customers want a nice green lawn, but they are not sure of the best way to go about it. Spread some soil, sow some seed and play the waiting game or roll out some instant green carpet. Obviously there are pros and cons to both of these options.

Seeding is great for the budget conscious, but you need to be prepared to but some time and effort into establishing a thick lawn. We have found that to achieve reasonable results from seeding it will need to be over sowed a number of times. Over sowing is reseeding an established lawn. In South East Queensland, the climate unfortunately is the worst enemy of a germinating seed. Extreme heat throughout the summer and high rainfall storms which can wash the seed away.

By far, the most effective way of establishing a great lawn is by turfing. Using this method you are essentially transplanting a healthy lawn, and with proper care it should remain that way. All the hard work has been done at the farm, and as long you have prepared the area correctly and your pretty handy with a hose or sprinkler, your lawn will be beautiful in a few weeks.

The key to both methods is base preparations! When both seeding and turfing it is extremely important to have a good base to start with, otherwise poor results may follow.  As a rule of thumb, both turf and seed really needs a nice and deep base (100mm) of uncompacted soil. This doesn’t necessarily mean you will need to import 100mm of new soil, but just ensure that there is 100mm of quality, friable soil available to the root system of your new turf or germinating seed.

Grass Seed

When seeding it is best to use a fine sandy soil mix like our Special Blend Top Dressing. The Special Blend has been designed to be used as a top dressing soil for your turf, to level out any humps and bumps and to feed your lawn at the same time. We have also found it to be a great seeding mix. A blend that is a correctly proportioned mix of finely sieved light sandy loam, composted sawdust and prilled organic chicken manure.

If you decide to go with the turf option then grab our downloadable PDF here. This will take you through step by step the processes involved in establishing a luscious green lawn. When establishing a new lawn, we recommend a 100mm thick base layer of a sandy underturf soil mix like our Under Turf Soil Mix. This ensures that your new turf will root itself deeply in the sandy soil, and in prolonged dry periods will be much more efficient and finding water with a deeper and stronger root system.

Preparation for Laying Turf

  • Install any underground drainage or irrigation you may want or is required.
  • Bring in a new sandy underturf soil mix if necessary – 80-100mm of uncompact, organic soil. Imported if required. We recommend UltraGROW Under Turf Soil Mix.
  • In heavy or clay soils it is recommended a clay breaker be used, such as Gypsum or Earthgrow Soil Conditioner.
  • If using your existing soil as a base, prepare the surface by digging or rotary hoeing the area to a depth of 100mm.
  • Using a topsoil leveler or rake, level off the area and roll flat with a water filled roller.
  • If using your existing soil, it is recommended that you wait a few weeks and treat any weeds that may have germinated.
  • Generally, when using a new rich organic mix, fertiliser is not always necessary initially. However, if using one of UltraGROW soils you will be supplied with Organic Xtra Free which is a perfect addition under all turf. Where possible, avoid chemical based fertilisers under new turf to prevent possible burning, or ensure the application rate is followed precisely.
  • Roll your new turf out keeping the joins as tight as possible.
  • With a water filled roller (or similar) roll your lawn again and water in well.

Preparation for Sowing a Lawn from Seed

  • Area and base preparation is much the same as for turfing
  • Sow at right time of year – warm season seed can be sowed during the spring and summer months
  • Sow on a still day when storms are not forecast; grass seed is very light and can easily blow around or be washed away.
  • Spread at a rate according to directions.
  • When seeding, much like turfing, you will need a decent layer of quality, uncompact top soil. Whether using your existing soil, or imported, manufactured top soil, there is a risk of the heat and weather drying and compacting the soil extremely fast making it a hostile environment for anything to grow. The correct soil choice can prevent this. We recommend our Special Blend Top Dressing Soil for seeding applications, the higher sand content minimises compaction and “crusting” effect.
  • Spread from side to side – in one direction and then another
  • Over large areas, mix seed with sand to get more even distribution
  • Rake lightly.
  • Keep moist throughout germination period. In hot/windy weather this may involve watering three or four times each day. Some couch grasses have a germination period of up to 28 days, so this can be a bit of work.
  • Mow for the first time when grass is 100mm in height.

We find seeding in South-East Queensland can be a difficult under taking and is quite dependant on external influences such as the weather.  High hot winds, heavy storm-like rainfall and scorching hot temperatures are all working against you through later spring and summer, so it’s all about timing. Picking the right few weeks where the weather will work with you rather than against is the hardest part! Selecting the right seed mix for your application is also important. Many seed mixes contain high percentages of seasonal Rye grass, which will tend to shoot quickly and die off after a month or so when the dominant species grows through. Unfortunately, if conditions haven’t been optimal, the desired grass may not shoot well before the Rye dies away. We often get reports from our customers that their seeded lawn looked great after 1 week, heaps of nice green shoots (Rye) but died back after 3 0r 4 to almost nothing.

So, what is right for you? Speed is the determining factor. A seeded lawn generally takes a few growing seasons to really fill out and become lush (provided initial germination conditions were optimal), whereas, particularly in SEQ, you can lay a full, green lawn in 1 weekend and be giving it its first haircut 2 weeks later.

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