Johannesburg - It was the coldest August in many years with freezing night temperatures, biting winds and even an historic blast of snow
If your Gauteng garden has any cold damage, it will be on account of the freezing night temperatures rather than the snow, which was short-lived and followed by patches of sunshine.
Warmer weather is just around the corner and now is the time to take a good look at your lawns.
Evergreen tufted lawns will be looking fabulous this month as they thrive in the cool weather and come from areas where snow is common. Keep mowing evergreen lawns at a height of 5cm, spread lawn fertiliser across them at a handful (60g) per square meter and make sure that they never dry out.
August is a great time to sow an evergreen lawn, but appreciate that evergreen lawns do best in a garden with an automatic sprinkler as they will never survive an extended dry patch in our summer heat.
Kikuyu or indigenous cynoden lawns that are younger than two year’s old will also not need more than a sprinkling of lawn fertiliser (a handful or 60g per square metre) and a good watering twice a week until the rain starts.
The big action in August is to spring clean frosted kikuyu and indigenous cynoden lawns that are established and have built up dead thatch.
If you have an old kikuyu lawn, follow these simple steps to ensure that you have a lush green carpet in your garden this summer.
Thatch is a layer of dead stems and roots that can build up on the surface of the soil. A lawn with a thick layer of thatch requires more fertiliser and more frequent watering. If the thatch is more than 2cm thick, disease problems are almost a certainty.
To remove the thatch, scarify the lawn by mowing it as short as possible. Rake off the thatch and throw it away. Thatching often leaves the grass thin so it is a good time to top seed the lawn.
Soils that get walked on or trampled will pack down until air can’t penetrate into the soil to keep the roots healthy. If a lawn has patches where grass won’t grow in spite of fertilising and watering, it needs to be aerated.
An aerator punches holes in the lawn every few inches to allow air and water to penetrate into the soil faster and deeper. Alternatively use a garden fork, although this is much harder work.
Choose either chemical or organic lawn fertilisers, both of which are available in granules or pelletised versions. Sprinkle the fertiliser at a rate of a handful (60g) per square metre across the lawn. A fertilised lawn will ensure rapid recovery from the scarifying process. Lawn fertilisers encourage root and leaf growth, which makes for a healthy lawn in summer. Remember to water well directly after the application of the fertiliser to prevent burning.
Top dressing is the last step in your spring cleaning regime and is best done after you have scarified, aerated and fertilised your lawn. Soak the ground well before applying the top dressing to ensure that the roots do not dry out.
Top dressing helps level out depressions, bumps or hollows in the lawn so that mowing is easier, and improves the soil under the grass so that the lawn plants grow better. It is available in bags at a garden centres. - Saturday Star