Gardening / Great time to get a lawn started

A cool lawn for the family to enjoy.

KEEPING a lawn green can be a battle in most of the country with high temperatures combined with ever increasing water rates, particularly in Canberra.

Cedric Bryant.

Visiting Alice Springs a few years ago I was amazed to see so many green lawns in one of the hottest, driest parts of the continent. It was explained to me the water came from artesian bores deep underground. However, not many seemed to appreciate this valuable resource with sprinklers left on, seemingly for hours, with water running down the gutters.

There are other places, believe it or not, where lawns are only to be looked at and not walked on. In Paris, I saw parks where walking on the grass is strictly forbidden. We watched a small child playing with a ball on the path. It rolled on to the grass and, as he went to retrieve it, a park attendant appeared from nowhere frantically blowing a whistle ordering the child off the grass.

Another example I read of recently was at a preschool in Charlotte, North Carolina, which had been given some play equipment, but the children were not allowed to use it because there was grass underneath – and playing on grass contravened local regulations.

A small lawn makes an attractive entrance to offices.

Autumn is the ideal time to establish a lawn in Canberra. So let’s look at the options. Ground preparation is the same for all of the following with the ground well cultivated to 150mm. If the soil is heavy with clay apply Multicrop GroundBreaker. Being a liquid, it soaks deep into the soil as opposed to gypsum. Mix in some garden lime to keep the soil neutral.

Eliminate existing weeds with glyphosate.

The most important consideration is how the lawn is watered; the best method is an in-ground watering system.

There are four options, the first three relate to real grass:

1.Sow grass seed.

2. Use a lawn professional to spray-seed the lawn. This is seed mixed with a mulch type material to help keep the seed from drying out too quickly.

The first two options have a problem with weeds, not necessarily in the ground but wind-borne. This means the weeds are well established before weed killers can be applied.

3. The best solution is turf. We are lucky in having our own turf company, Canturf, established more than 40 years ago. The grass varieties are selected specifically for our extremes of climate and can be seen growing at its turf farm at Fyshwick.

In all the above cases it is vital to keep the ground moist. If you do not have an automatic system this can be an onerous daily task. Obviously the seeded lawn areas will dry out very quickly, especially on hot windy days.

4. Artificial or synthetic grass, a petroleum-based product creating pollution and waste in its manufacture. There are many disadvantages to this type of lawn. It is expensive to lay in comparison to living turf. In summer it can get extremely hot, in fact too hot for young children to play on. Choose wisely for the family’s sake.


  • MICHAEL Cole, of Plant Growers Australia, the largest grower of perennial plants, is the guest speaker at the next Horticultural Society of Canberra meeting at the Wesley Churches Centre, National Circuit, Forrest, from 7.30pm, Monday, April 16. All welcome followed by supper.
  • LANYON Homestead will hold an open day, hosted by the National Trust and ACT Historic Places, 10am-3pm, on Saturday, April 14 as part of the Heritage Festival. There will be guided tours of the gardens plus craft activities, music, dance and poetry and plenty for children. Entry by gold-coin donation.
  • THERE will be a two-hour “Landscape of Learning” session at the Old Tuggeranong Homestead Schoolhouse hosted by the National Trust and the Australian Garden History Society from 2pm, Sunday, April 22. Visitors will see the developing gardens and neighbouring landscape. Entry is $10 and children free. Bookings to 6230 0533 or


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