With soaring summer temperatures experienced across the country, plants are taking strain and your lawn is no exception.
If you are contemplating removing lawn and replacing it with hard landscaping or artificial lawn, don’t be too hasty.
Despite a move towards low-maintenance and more water wise gardens, lawns do still have a role to play in city gardens. “Natural turf grass controls soil erosion as the root system grows into the soil and can be used to hold the soil on a gentle slope,” said Fanus Cloete, CEO at Evergreen Turf.
“Lawn also reduces heat when compared with hard rock surfaces, asphalt and concrete.”
Cloete explained that on a hot day, the temperature on grass may be around 17 or 18 degrees Celsius, compared to 55 degrees Celcius on asphalt.
“Grass also plays a role in capturing dust, smoke particles and other pollutants so air quality is improved,” said Cloete.
Lawns provide a place for entertainment in the garden and an area for children and pets to play. It compliments a garden’s design and, like all plants, it absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen.
Buffalo grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is recommended for the winter rainfall Western Cape region and well as indigenous Cynodon species that are able to withstand periods of drought. Gulf Green, a Cynodon variety, is bright green in colour and suitable for a wide range of soil types.
The popular kikuyu is a warm season grass that requires at least six hours of sunlight per day to thrive. LM is tolerant of shade but not of drought and cold conditions. Although cool season grasses, like Shade-Over and Evergreen Gold, are green throughout the year, they do require more water.
Summer lawn care
Points to consider for a healthy lawn in summer.
Fanus Cloete says that it’s important not to mow your lawn too short in hot weather. “Leave it a little taller so there is enough leaf area for the plant to transpirate and cool down,” he added.
Aim for a mowing height of 20 to 25mm for warm season grasses and Cynodon species and 30mm for cool season lawns in sun and 50mm in the shade.
If your lawn looks whitish and takes a few days to bounce back after mowing, you are likely cutting it too short and exposing the softer parts of the leaf blade to the sun. Also check mower blades. A brown or whitish look may be the result of blunt blades.
When to water
Water thoroughly once per week rather than a few minutes every day. This encourages deep rooting which helps the grass cope better during periods of limited rainfall. Water in the early morning or after the sun goes down.
“Watch the colour of the lawn,” advised Cloete. “Most varieties will turn pale, brown or bluish when water is needed.” Don’t over-water your lawn. If you have an irrigation system, turn it off during rainy periods.
Under Cape Town’s current Level 3 water restrictions, municipal water (using a bucket or watering can only) may be used for watering plants before 9am and after 6pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, for one hour per day per property. No hosepipes and sprinklers may be used. Opt for harvested rain water to irrigate your lawn.
“Grey water reuse is extremely helpful in maintaining a healthy lawn during times of drought and low rainfall,” said Mark Joubert of GardenResQ. “Grey water contains micro-organisms as well as many nutrients, which is then supplied to the lawn and plants that you are watering. Grass watered with grey water is often a very vibrant and healthy green.”
Never use water from sinks or dishwashers and keep grey water on your porpery. If you use laundry water, change to a detergent that is biodegradable. Never store grey water.
When to fertilise
Fertilisers are important to ensure that your lawn has good root system. “The deeper the root system, the healthier the lawn is and the deeper the roots will go to retrieve moisture in the soil,” explained Fanus Cloete.
Lawns should be fertilised at intervals of between 40 and 60 days. Whether you choose an organic or inorganic fertiliser is a personal choice. Inorganic products are available immediately to the plant, while organic products take time to break down in the soil.
For a chemical fertiliser, Cloete suggests a 5:1:5 fertiliser which can be use twice per year in September and February and a general LAN fertiliser during the interim periods.
Weeds look unsightly and if left unchecked in the lawn, they may choke out turf. Use an appropriate broadleaf herbicide to control them.
Watch for problems
Keep an eye out for lawn caterpillar, especially in January and February. They live below the soil during the day and come out at night to feed on grass, leaving behind dead brown patches.
To confirm lawn caterpillar, place a damp towel on the lawn overnight and check under it in the morning. Once confirmed, treat with an appropriate biological insecticide so birds can safely eat the dead caterpillars.
Dollar spot is a fungal disease more prevalent when the weather is hot, with periods of rain. Dead patches are straw-coloured and round in shape, about 25 to 50mm in diameter.
Brown patch is lawn disease also caused by a fungus and is more common during hot, humid weather. Both problems can be treated with an appropriate fungicide.
Source: Weekend Argus & Weekend Star, Independent Newspapers, 26 January 2018
This article is a response to a journalists enquiry - Why should homeowners stick with lawn rather than paving? Evergreen Turf CEO, Fanus Cloete responded.
Celebrate landscaping at the charity-fundraising 2018 Elgin Open Gardens
Dates: Saturday 27 October – Sunday 28 October AND Saturday 3 November – Sunday 4 November
Times: 10am to 5pm
Download attachments - see above and click on attachments: Map, Garden Info and Brochure
What will you see?
- The 15 gardens range from large established country gardens (some over 50 years old), to young, recently planted gardens in villages and on smallholdings, all in a setting of great natural beauty an hour’s drive from Cape Town.
- A number of gardens will have plants for sale , and some such as Keurbos, Fairholme and Fresh Woods will be offering unusual and interesting plants difficult to find elsewhere, such as Japanese maples, rhododendrons and other choice perennials, trees and shrubs.
- Many gardens are also offering teas and light meals , in addition to the many other restaurants and food gardens in the area.
- The local charity Siphila Sonke, will be serving teas and lunches at Keurbos Nursery Garden and at Carmel Farm , both on the Highlands Rd.
- On the Open Days, they will always be available in the Elgin area at Sithanda Nursery, Peregrine Farm Stall and the Orchard Farm Stall.
- See images below...
This is the 17th year of the Elgin Open Gardens charity fundraising scheme.
So far the winter rains have filled most of our smaller dams, and with our heavier, cooler, wetter soils we think we have survived the drought better than most.
We continue to be vigilant in not wasting water, and many of us have adapted our plantings for a drier future. Luckily our present and past farmers had the foresight to build dams to secure their futures, and we are grateful to them for that, and these enable us to grow a wider range of plants than most for our pleasure and your enjoyment.
- Most gardens do not allow dogs. Please ask the owner’s permission before you bring yours.
- All gardens are giving a proportion of their takings to charities of their choice.
For more information:
- Barbara Knox-Shaw: 021 844 0154 / 078 021 2101
- Jessie Walton: 083 458 3790
Pic 1: Fairholme - the formal rose garden.
Pic 2: Freshwoods - a woodland garden
Pic 3: Auldearn - Jenny Simpsons hilltop farmstead
Pic 4: Keurbos Nursery, Elgin.
Pic 5: Fairholme - the formal perennial garden.
Wakkerstroom Open Gardens and Rose Show
10 and 11 November 2018
Wakkerstroom will be holding its second Open Gardens and Rose Show on the weekend of the 10th and 11th of November.
This year, the “Market @ the Corner” will be held together with the open gardens and rose show.
The market, on Saturday the 10th will include artisan stalls, craft gin, live music, delicious foods, entertainment for children, including a puppet show and face painting, to mention a few.
The theme is “artisan foods” and “going back to basics”, including organic and mindful living and picnicking in the gardens to enjoy your purchases.
The market will be held at the premises of The Garret, spilling over into the Red Building, on van Riebeeck Street, through the gardens of both premises and will flow into the pretty garden of the new Thyme Out restaurant.
The Rose Show will be open to the public and visitors on Saturday 10th November from 11h00 onwards for viewing, at Runnymede Iris Farm, 247 Uys Street, Wakkerstroom.
Three rose judges will judge the show: Sheenagh Harris, Chairperson of the Knysna Rose Society, assisted by Gill Wilson and Gail Birss of the Midlands Rose Society.
Prize-giving will be held at Runnymede Iris Farm, on Saturday 10th November, at 16h00.
There will be a few talks ranging from roses, organic gardening and mindful gardening, included in your ticket price.
Twelve Open Gardens
Visitors will be able to wander around 12 open gardens.
Entrance fee: R50 per person, which includes access to all gardens, the rose show and short, informative talks.
Tickets, programs and a map indicating the various venues and gardens will be on sale at two outlets in town from Saturday morning, the 10th November.
Accommodation in Wakkerstroom
Should you wish to stay in Wakkerstroom for the event, please look at the website: www.wakkerstroom.co.za for accommodation, ranging from cosy self-catering cottages, bed and breakfasts, the Country Inn, and camping at two venues.