Tips for creating and maintaining your lawn : Hirepool

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Tips for creating and maintaining your lawn

Lawn areas are fantastic additions to homes and other properties, creating outdoor space for entertaining and playing. Lawn maintenance, however, can be a time consuming, and gruelling task for many homeowners. The good news is there are ways (and pieces of equipment) to help you save on time and energy, while keeping your grass happier than ever! 

We’re in the business to help Kiwis get their DIY jobs done smarter and faster. We also know a beautiful lawn is the pride and joy of any fellow green thumb! 

Keep reading for some great advice on creating a lawn from scratch and keeping it in great condition throughout the New Zealand seasons.

Preparing the ground for a new lawn

Are you faced with a plot of bare land or is your existing lawn not quite as lush and weed free as you imagined? Whether you’re sowing seed or laying ready lawn, the prep is virtually the same. The better the prep, the healthier and better looking the lawn. After that, regular maintenance is key to making it the envy of your neighbours.

Here are a few tips for creating and maintaining the lawn of your dreams:

Step 1: Clear your planned lawn area

You will want to start with a clear piece of land to create your lawn. If that area or your existing lawn is overgrown and needs to be cleared before you can prep the ground, you may want to hire a hire a weedeater or scrub cutter to make this time consuming task as quick and easy as possible.

Step 2: Get the ground ready for new grass

Once you can access the ground where you want to plant/replant your lawn, your first task is to kill all the weeds and any remaining bits of old lawn using a lawn sprayer. 

Next, depending on the size of your lawn, use a spade or rotary hoe, to turn over and aerate the soil. You want to create a crumbly mix of soil that’s around 15cm deep. Leave this for approximately three weeks. This is so you can keep digging out weeds as they germinate or re-sprout to make sure you are starting as weed free as possible.

To ensure your lawn is flat, make sure the surface of the ground is nice and even before you sow your grass seed or lay ready lawn. Fill any obvious dips with topsoil to even it out. Then level the surface with a wide rake. A  lawn roller  is a great tool to help compact the soil slightly to ready it for spreading seed or laying ready lawn. 

Tip: Check your progress by laying a piece of timber on the ground with a level on top. Once you’re happy it’s flat, leave for a week or so to let the earth settle then re-level again. 

Step 3: Fertilise your prepared ground

Lastly, before sowing seed or laying ready lawn make sure you give your soil a good feed. Use a fertiliser that’s designed for the job, and spread it evenly over the entire area. A fertiliser spreader is a great tool for getting this spread quickly and evenly. We have a towable option available if your surface area is large.

Tip: To get an even distribution, spread half the fertiliser in a north-south direction, and the remaining half in an east-west direction.

Choosing your lawn grass

It’s super important to choose grass that will grow well in your environment, and withstand the type of wear you plan on throwing at it. Whether it’s shady, hot, or used for backyard soccer or cricket practice, there’s a huge variety of grass options available. Your garden centre or ready lawn specialist will be your best guides as to what type of grass is best suited to create the lawn of your dreams. 

Spreading your lawn seed or laying pre-grown lawn

With the prep work for your new lawn done and dusted, you’re now ready to plant your lawn either by sowing seed or laying ready grown grass.

If you are using seed, the ideal time to sow your lawn in New Zealand is either in spring (September to November) or autumn (March to May). Like we recommended when fertilising, to get an even spread, sow half your grass seeds in a north-south direction, and the rest in an east-west direction.

Tip: Sow your seed on a windless day. Early in the morning is the ideal time. 

If you’re planning on laying ready lawn, the good news is you can do this all year round. Aim to lay your lawn as soon as you get it. If laying yourself, the best way is staggered and in the same direction. Make sure you butt all the edges and ends together firmly without stretching the lawn pieces. Use a sharp knife to trim surplus turf. It’s important to avoid standing on your newly laid lawn. Laying boards is helpful to avoid this (and we’d also recommend having a word to the kids so they don’t cause havoc!). It’s recommended that you wait approximately three weeks after laying your turf before walking on your new lawn as this will give the turf’s roots time to knit into the soil below.  It’ll be worth the wait!!

Once laid, stamp down by foot or roll your new lawn with an easy to manoeuvre lawn roller.  This is to ensure good contact between the grass roots and the soil. Pay close attention to where your sections of turf join when doing this to make sure the joins securely meet and you have no gaps. 

Tip: If laying grass in hot weather, put your unlaid lawn in a shaded area and sprinkle with water if it looks like it’s getting dry. Avoid laying small strips at outer edges as they will not retain moisture well.

Maintaining your lawn

You are now (hopefully) reaping the rewards of all your hard work and enjoying a lush, weed free lawn space. The key to keeping it this way is regular maintenance.  

Here’s a list of important lawn maintenance tasks with some tips on saving time and effort when doing them. Because let’s face it - whilst we all like a great piece of grass, we have better things to do with our time than spending hours maintaining it!  

Mowing your lawn

This will be your most regular lawn maintenance task.  For some, mowing the lawn can be a pleasant way to spend time on a sunny day. For others, it’s a task left until the grass becomes too long to ignore, at which point, it has become a much bigger task.

In order to spend the least amount of time to get the best results, here are some areas of focus and tips on making mowing easy: 

How often should you mow your lawn? 

This will be affected by the seasons and where you live in the country. Generally, the autumn and winter months will see your lawn needing a trim every two to five weeks. Summer can see you out with the mower weekly or every second week. Spring is most variable due to levels of rain and sun so you’re best just to monitor this in line with how long you like your grass.

Tip: Around mid-morning is the best time to get out the lawn mower as any dew or irrigated water should have dried up. It also avoids the real heat of the day which is important as your newly shortened lawn can get stressed if exposed on a hot sunny day.

Why you shouldn’t mow your lawn when it’s wet

Whilst tempting when you have had days of rain and your grass has grown like wildfire as a result, there are some good reasons to avert your gaze and wait until your lawn has dried out a bit. Cutting wet grass can spread any disease your lawn may be suffering from.  Fungi or bacteria in your lawn is not always obvious, so you may not even be aware your lawn is suffering from a disease that you could then be spreading. You also risk compacting your soil when it’s wet, which can cause long-term damage. Your mower might not be too happy either as wet grass can cause it grief by sticking to its undercarriage. 

Tip: If you’re going to mow when it’s wet, make sure your mower blades are nice and sharp to protect your wet grass from shredding or tearing as this can cause long-term damage to your grass. Raising your mower blades so you cut less grass will also help cause fewer problems for your lawn. After finishing, make sure you give the lawn a good clean.

Ideal lawn height

This will depend on the type of grass you have. Basing the length on how you want your lawn to look is a simple guide. If it’s looking untidy, then like a well-manicured beard, it’s time for a trim. 

Be careful not to cut any lower than 30-40% of the blade length. Any lower than this and you risk the health of your lawn by potentially reducing it’s root growth. 

Here’s a quick reference table showing common grass types and their ideal lengths:

Grass type

Ideal length

Buffalo 

40–50mm

Kikuyu 

40–45mm

Couch

25–30mm

Still not sure? Head outside with your bare feet and take a walk on your lawn. How does it feel? It should feel nice but not like you’re sinking into it.

 Tip: Keep the catcher on for a neat result. But before you do, keep reading….

What to do with grass clippings

Clippings contain nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which are natural fertilisers. Grasscycling refers to leaving grass clippings on the lawn when mowing. Grass clippings quickly decompose, returning these valuable nutrients to your lawn.  As well as being better for the environment, this is a really easy way to fertilise your lawn and reduces the amount of time and money spent on keeping your lawn in good health. Not to mention saving you time and energy when you’re mowing as you don’t need to keep stopping and emptying your catcher. Leaving your clippings will see your lawns mowed in no time.

A widely believed myth is that leaving grass clippings on your lawn can cause thatching (a layer of partially decomposed grass and organic matter lying between the soil and grass). If you mow regularly and keep your grass at the same height, this won’t be an issue as clippings will break down naturally.

Tip: If you do find your lawn is suffering from thatching for whatever reason, you can use a lawn scarifier/dethatcher to remove the dense layer of organic matter lying between the soil and the base of the grass that will be causing it.

For those who prefer to have their lawns looking polished and grass clipping free, there are some interesting and useful things you can do with your lawn clippings. They can be used to make compost, or mulch to go around your trees, plants and shrubs, and for brewing lawn clipping tea (and because we have been asked before, this is definitely not for human consumption!). 

Here are some great suggestions on things to do with lawn clippings

Maintaining your lawn edges

It won’t matter how perfectly your lawn is mown if you don't trim it’s edges. These require a tool like a lawn edger or scrub cutter/line trimmer to keep them in shape as they’re designed to handle the delicacy needed to give the areas around your mailbox, paths, driveways and trees nice sharp edges. 

Weedeaters are fantastic for quickly reining in an unruly section or garden. You can achieve a nice, level lawn without using a traditional lawn mower. Our lightweight, easy to handle scrub cutters are ideal for managing weeds and long grass around your property or landscaping site. They come in petrol, battery and electric options, and use nylon cutting lines.

For cutting around edges, posts or fences and prefer to avoid power leads or petrol, check out our battery powered weedeater It features up to 100 minute run time and is low on noise.

If you’re working with an uneven section, scrub cutters are ideal for harder to reach places, slopes or banks where it might be dangerous to use a heavier lawn mower. They will also allow you to easily maintain vertical banks. Hirepool’s scrub cutters are also fitted with grass or steel blades for extra cutting power.

Here are the weedeater and scrubcutters we have available for hire:

Hirepool Options

Ideal for

Weedeater - Battery



Light weed eating duties such as cutting weeds and long grass. Also ideal for maintaining lawn edges especially around posts and fences (nylon string type). With 100 minutes run time, this model removes the need for petrol or running power leads and is low noise.

Weedeater - Petrol

 

Light duty weed eater for cutting weeds and long grass and maintaining lawn edges (nylon string type). Petrol powered for a bit more grunt.

Scrubcutter – Petrol (Medium blade) 

Fitted with a steel grass or steel scrub blade, this medium sized petrol powered scrub cutter is ideal for cutting weeds and overgrown lawns. 

Scrubcutter – Petrol (Heavy Duty blade) 

Great for managing larger areas more easily. Petrol powered and fitted with a steel grass or steel scrub blade.

Keeping your lawn healthy

There a few key tasks that will help to keep your lawn looking a picture of health:

Aerating 

What’s required: Aerating your lawn is a simple way to promote healthy root growth in your lawn. The best way to do this is with an aerator available from your local hardware store. To aerate your lawn, push the aerator spikes down into your lawn about every 30cm.

When to do it: Any time. Though different grasses do have preferred time so check with your grass supplier. Ideally you should aerate your lawn annually. If you have clay soils then bi-annually is advised.

Feeding 

What’s required: Keeping your lawn well fed is also an important task. Leaving your grass clippings on your lawn is one way to do this. Another way is to apply an appropriate fertilizer. Fertilizer spreaders make this an easy job and ensure you get an even spread.

When to do it: Spring (September) will encourage the lawn to repair itself from any yellowing or winter damage. Summer (December) will give your lawn good growth and lush green colour. It will also help it deal with any extreme temperatures. Autumn (March) provides good growth and helps to keep your lawn feed over the winter months and support it to keep its lush green colour.

Watering

What’s required: Keeping your lawn well watered is also important to maintain its health. It’s also important to do after applying fertiliser to make sure your grass roots don’t burn. Given we’re in New Zealand, this is often taken care of naturally. If you’re facing a bit of a drought, it could be worthwhile looking into a sprinkler - but watch that water usage.

When to do it: Year round as needed and if you use a fertiliser product to feed your lawn.

Weeding 

What’s required: Keeping your lawn clear of weeds is a job best done regularly and by hand because if the weeds get the chance they will take over your lawn. If you discover thatching, use a dethatcher as a quick and effective way of eliminating this from your lawn.

When to do it: Year round, as needed. More likely to be a key task in the spring and autumn months.

Clearing Leaves

What’s required: Making sure leaves don’t build up and sit on your lawn is a really important task in maintaining your lawn’s health. Ideally clear as soon as they start to build up and ideally before rain so they don’t stick together and become an impenetrable mat that can suffocate your grass and breed fungal disease. Raking is an effective but time consuming way. Using a leaf blower is much faster and more efficient blowing your leaves onto your garden areas, which also benefits your plants, trees and shrubs.

When to do it: Autumn is generally when it’s most needed.

Here’s a handy table for noting what to do when at a quick glance.

Lawn maintenance task

When to do it

Aerating

Any time. Though different grasses do have preferred time so check with your grass supplier. Ideally you should aerate your lawn annually. If you have clay soils then bi-annually is advised.

Feeding

Spring (September) - Will encourage the lawn to repair itself from any yellowing or winter damage.


Summer (December) - Will give your lawn good growth and lush green colour. It will also help it deal with any extreme temperatures.


Autumn (March) - Will provide good growth and  help keep your lawn feed over the winter months and support it to keep its lush green colour.

Watering

Year round as needed and if you use a fertilizer product to feed your lawn

Weeding

Year round, as needed. More likely to be a key task in the spring and autumn months.

Clearing leaves

Autumn is generally when it’s most needed.

Here’s a useful article if you want more information on how to create and maintain a healthy lawn. 

Fertiliser spreaders, leaf blowers, mulchers, lawn edgers and lawn rollers are tools that are only used when creating a lawn or used a couple of times a year in lawn maintenance. 

Hiring rather than buying tools that largely go unused year round, is a cost effective way to stay on top of your maintenance and DIY jobs. It’s also time saving as hired equipment is gruntier than the hardware store equivalent, getting your jobs done faster and more effectively. Hiring comes with the added bonus that someone else’s in charge of maintenance and storage. Saving you more time, money and space in the shed! 

Whatever you need to hire you can easily book your lawn maintenance equipment online or get in touch with your local Hirepool branch who’ll be happy to advise on the best equipment and book these for you. Easy as!