What is the 1/3 rule and what does it mean for my lawn?

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Many lawn maintenance professionals say to only cut one-third of your leaf-height when mowing. Sharp mower blades are important with mowing, but the amount you take off can affect its recovery
That fresh lawn smell – soothing as it may be for us humans – is actually a distress signal for grass as it goes into repair mode

Known widely as the One Third Rule, lawn grasses should only be brought down each mowing – as the name suggests – by one third of the leaf height at any one time, in order to maintain peak condition.

The ‘One-Third-Rule’ has been drummed into many turfgrass professionals and the wider lawn-loving public over many years, but is there any truth to this and where did it originate?

It relates to the length of leaf that you should limit yourself to taking off at each mow. The reason behind this is to lessen the stress placed on the grass during the destructive mowing process. 

By removing only one-third of the leaf during a mowing event, you will limit the amount of photosynthesizing material removed and allow the plant to maintain reasonable growth by minimizing this stress among others.

It is also based on the correlation between the percentage of top-growth removed and the subsequent effect this removal has on root-growth. It is little-known that root-growth can be severely impeded, and actually cease for a period of time, depending on the amount of top-growth removed.

Research that first introduced this theory was carried out by Franklin Crider in 1955 whilst he was an employee with the US Department of Agriculture that he undertook on pasture and forage-grasses.

Three separate studies were conducted within his experiment whereby the amount and frequency of cutting of the grass leaves (forage removal) were compared to root-growth.

His first experiment evaluated cutting leaf tissue at different intervals on cool-season turf species and Florida paspalum and bermudagrass among his warm-season grass experiments.

The second experiment examined the effects of cutting on root-growth in the field and the last experiment examined different percentages of top-growth removed on different grasses for multiple cuttings.

Crider showed that when more than half of the forage is removed from a plant, root growth stops within the first day or two afterward and stays stopped anywhere for a further six to 18 days, with an average of 11 days, depending on the grass-type.

For real-world lawn maintenance, this means that if you were to cut more than half of the top-growth of your lawn grass, at an interval of less than 11 days, the roots would never fully recover leading to greater stresses and eventual decline.

Crider also showed in his experiments the effect that a single removal of top growth, in 10-percent increments, has on root growth. When 40-percent or less of the forage is removed, 0-percent of the roots stop growing. However, when 50-percent-or-more of the forage is removed, an increasing percentage of the roots stop growing; and when 90 percent of the forage is removed, 100 percent of the roots stop growing.

In other words, leaving more than a third of the leaf at any time the grass is mown during the growing season allows the roots to continue to grow. If the roots keep growing, the plant will remain healthy and perform better than under the stresses placed on it by harder mowing and slower root-growth.

His research ultimately proved what was theorised; in that cutting too much leaf tissue off results in the stoppage of root-growth and placing unnecessary burden on the turf.

The One-Third Rule has been around for decades and is known to minimise plant stress and should be adhered to wherever practical for your own lawn’s best performance.

Consistent mowing height and frequency will always put your lawn in a better position to perform well and overcome the various other stresses that inevitably occur with weather and wear and tear.

This article was adapted from the Lawn Solutions Australia website. Click here for more information. 

Benefits of turf.... you decide

The team at Lawn Solutions Australia have been doing some research and all of us here at Superior Lawns Australia want to spread the word. Turf has so many benefits and here's just a few of them, we want you to decide how you design your backyard!

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Turfgrasses play a critical role in the general health and welfare of our communities. As a result of increasing urbanisation and deforestation they are becoming more and more important for human health.  Turf is not only a major source of beauty and comfort in our lives but also a cleansing answer to our environment.  Turf is usually the centrepiece of a garden and most people still regard a turfed yard as part of the Australian dream.  Turf can help turn a house into a home.  

It not only softens the look and increases the beauty of homes but can also dramatically increase its value too. Turf is the perfect environment for people of all ages.  Whether your usage is for; raising a family, walking the dog, having a BBQ, playing professional sport or just having a kick around with friends, there’s no better surface.  It reduces the incident of personal injuries through its cushioning ability and children in particular are much better protected when playing and falling on grass than any other surface. 

Environmental Benefits of Turf;

  • Air pollution control/air quality improvement
  • Oxygen generation
  • Dust prevention & stabilisation
  • Carbon sequestration & sinks
  • Water filtration and purification (phytoremediation)
  • Water run-off reduction
  • Rainwater harvesting & entrapment - groundwater recharge
  • Reduction in nutrient movement & loss
  • Erosion control
  • Soil improvement & restoration
  • Bioderadation of synthetic organic compounds (phytoremediation)
  • Alleviating heat island effects
  • Reduction in nutrient movement & loss
  • Erosion control Ÿ Soil improvement and restoration
  • Biodegradation of synthetic organic compounds (phytoremediation)
  • Alleviating heat island effect

Health Benefits of Turf;

Being close to turf it improves our quality of life: improving air quality and helps keep our cities and local environments clean and safe.  It’s an essential part of a city landscape. Turf’s aesthetic appeal improves our enjoyment of life. Research studies have found that when people live or work close to parks and gardens they are less susceptible to high blood pressure, stress and depression. Psychologically, the colour green makes us feel closer to nature by being beautiful, restful and relaxing. Lawns and parks provide oases of calm from the stress and trials of daily life.

Aesthetic / Economic Benefits of Turf;

Contributing to a strong economy the turf industry is huge and diverse, employing directly and indirectly over 400,000 people in farming, landscaping, maintenance, management and design, to name a few.  It’s an industry that all Australians benefit from. It is also a;

  • Low cost surfaces
  • Increased property value
  • Entertainment / Beauty
  • Community pride
  • Fire prevention
  • Complements the landscape
  • Glare reduction
The original post can be found on the Lawn Solutions Australia Website

Installing your Lawn

Firstly and most importantly as the weather is heating up, ensure that you have the area prepared and ready to install the turf the day of delivery. 

Apply a starter fertiliser to the soil

Once you have a reasonable amount of underlay levelled (we recommend 100mm), apply a starter fertiliser such as Turf Start (a slow release organic fertilizer which naturally develops the soil providing a bank of nutrients at the root zone during turf development.) as well as soil wetter to encourage deeper root growth and really support your lawn in the establishment period. 

Start Laying the Lawn around the perimeter

If you are laying your turf on a slope, start at the bottom. Place your rolls or slabs of turf around the perimeter of the area and lay between the perimeter. Stagger the joints in a brickwork fashion to avoid erosion and butt the turf closely together to avoid gaps – this is where your turf can dry out and cause a patchy lawn.

Don't throw off cuts away

When cutting is required use a sharp knife or shears, but don’t throw these off cuts away. When you have finished laying you will probably find there are a few unusual spaces to fill and these bits are perfect for that.

Water your new lawn as soon as possible

Water as soon as possible. If you are laying a large lawn, try and water as you go – especially on a hot day. If you have access to a roller, we recommend rolling the lawn to ensure good root contact with the soil. As our Sir Walter DNA Certified comes in a slab format, you won't need to use a roller or compacter. 

You will need to apply for a watering exemption for your new lawn. This information can be found on the Water Corporation website. 

WA turf removal advocacy short sighted

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Media Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 7, 2017

The Western Australian Government’s advocacy for home owners to pull up natural turf lawns is a bad idea that will have devastating effects on our urban areas, according to Turf Australia.

The huge number and wide-ranging benefits natural turf can offer an urban area overwhelmingly outweigh the advocating of removing lawn from backyards.

“Removing lawns is a knee jerk reaction that will not fix this problem – turf has far too many long-term benefits to the entire urban community,” Turf Australia’s Ross Boyle said.

“There are huge benefits to having turf, which is a natural product, in urban areas – it absorbs carbon, absorbs noise, absorbs heat, absorbs dust. It produces oxygen and improves water quality … you are potentially losing all these benefits when removing lawn.

“Lawn areas cool everything around it – it is one of the greatest defences in the urban heat island issue cities are faced with … lawns are cooler in the peak of summer by between 10 and 40 degrees compared to other surfaces like concrete and bare ground,” Mr Boyle said.

“There are also some very real social wellbeing and mental health benefits to communities of lawn – people get out and play on lawn, relax in parks on the lawn – you can’t do that on hard surfaces.”

Mr Boyle also said new lawn varieties did not use as much water as many people thought, and, with the addition of soil amendments and watering at optimal times – like overnight – the humble back yard can be very water efficient.

Turf Australia also urged the Western Australian Government to look closely at what it was advocating to replace natural turf with.

“Turf is a natural product, and replacing it with a hard surface or synthetic product costs the community many ways like increased energy usage trying to cool urban areas and the environmental cost of removing a natural air and water filtration system that is lawn.”

Dry Patches in your lawn? Here's a few things it could be

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There are a number of issues that need to be addressed if your lawn is going off in summer. They can  occur individually, or as an interrelation between two or more of them. The reasons have been listed in order of priority.

  1. Reticulation
  2. Hydrophobic soils
  3. Fertlising & Mowing
  4. Beetles (pests) and fungus's
  5. Soil Compaction

 Reticulation

The first cause is a retic system that is not giving adequate coverage. Likely reasons are blocked / broken/ misaligned sprinklers, change in pressure or sprinklers that have been replaced and don’t match the system. You check retic systems by finding out how many millimetres of water are being applied during each watering time. The pressure is measured by putting aerosol caps around your system and measuring the amount of water in each. If watering twice a week you need a minimum of 30mm on each day in normal conditions. These figures will let you know how long to run each station to get the required amount of water (stations may vary depending on pressure and sprinkler type). Different types of sprinklers put out vastly different amounts of water. Contrary to public perceptions, there is no time limit to how long each station runs for, as long as you water within your allocated watering day and time. Consideration must be given to drift from prevailing winds. Once you have audited your retic system and it is working satisfactorily you can look at the non wetting properties of your soil (hydrophobia).

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 Hydrophobic Soils

Hydrophobic soils repel water and this doesn’t allow for even distribution of water. The water makes runnels, following down through easier penetration areas, over wetting some areas and completely missing others. This is a natural occurrence in our dry, waxy sandy soils. So, if your retic system  is working efficiently and you are still having problems with a dry lawn, use a spade to cut out a square of lawn 100mm deep from the stressed area. You can then compare it with an area of healthy lawn. If it is drier, you probably have hydrophobic soil (at the same time you can check for beetles and grubs). Applying a good quality wetting agent such as Bailey’s Gro Sorb, Soil Soak, Eezi-Wet  or Aqua Soak before the first heat wave and reapplying as required (we recommend 4-6 weekly in summer) will improve and even out the water penetration through your lawn.

Fertilising / Mowing

Lawn should be fertilised lightly every 6 to 8 weeks with a quality fertiliser such as Sir Walter Buffalo Fertiliser or Baileys 3.1.1 or 4.1.1. This should continue even into winter to keep your lawn green and vigorous when others have gone dormant. A tonic of iron, manganese and nitrogen sprayed on the leaf does wonders. This is available at Bunnings. It is important that your lawn is mowed at a suitable height (above 20mm and higher in shade). This helps the lawn to keep its vigour and minimises porpoising (when the runners leap over each other due to the lawn being scalped). Scalping also stresses the lawn as it doesn’t have as much surface area in the leaf to retain moisture and promote photosynthesis and it is a known fact that the length of the leaf has a direct relationship to the length of the roots (longer roots make the lawn more drought tolerant).

 Beetles (Pests) and Fungus

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Pests (black beetle etc) and funguses (virtually unheard of in Sir Walter but more prevalent in other buffalo types and very occasionally in the couch varieties) can also be the cause of problems with your lawn, however these add up to less than 1% of turf related problems. You can check for beetles by soaking an area of a metre square by holding the end of your hose 150mm  below the surface for several minutes and seeing how many float to the top. If you get 50 or more you may have a problem and can treat with a suitable pesticide and for Velvetene lawns  (ONLY APPLICABLE FOR THE VELVETENE _ DO NOT USE ON ANY OTHER LAWN VARIETY) you can apply a salt solution (1kg pool salt dissolved in 5tl water). The black beetle is not a problem  if you have less than 100 to a square metre of lawn. These little creatures generally do more good than harm as they are a natural way of aerating the soil. Do not treat for black beetle unless you have an infestation of them (100/sqm). Funguses can also be treated with a suitable garden fungicide such as Fongarid or Mancozeb plus depending on the type (be aware that you do need to read the label and make sure that it is compatible with your lawn type).

 Compacted Soil

Some lawns do become compacted. Like us they need air. Opening up the ground (de compacting / aerating) with a sturdy pitchfork (pushing it in and working it backwards and forwards) is one way in a small lawn or you can hire a corer from a garden hire company such as The Hire Guys. This will allow for air to circulate through the lawn and make it easier for water to penetrate.

 Other

Finally spills including fertiliser, chlorine, petrol or BBQ fat will damage the lawn. Other secondary problems can be excessive thatch, dog urine and builders slurry (lime and mortar washed out of concrete mixers etc during building). Also, all lawns have a flowering and seeding time. Buffalo lawns flower in late spring and can occur more prevalently in a new or stressed lawn. Any problems can be minimised (or even eliminated) by checking the above points and you should be well on the way to having the best lawn in the street.


THREE GROUND RULES TO A HEALTHY LAWN

  1. Adequate water; 30mm on each of the two days allocated for watering.

  2. Regular dusting of fertiliser

  3. Regular mowing all year round – do not remove more then 1/3 of the leaf. 

Sir Walter DNA Certified Buffalo Lawn a proud sponsor of the Movember Foundation

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Sir Walter DNA Certified (Australia’s favourite buffalo lawn) is turning twenty-years-old this month and Superior Lawns Australia is proud to be a part of the birthday celebrations.  

With over 70-million-square-metres sold nationally and nearly a million backyards now sporting a Sir Walter DNA Certified buffalo lawn, we think this achievement is well-worth making some noise about. Sir Walter DNA Certified was the first, real, nationally branded turfgrass that pretty much suited most of Australia’s harsh conditions and thrived in most home yard settings.

As part of the celebrations, Sir Walter DNA Certified will be announcing their partnership with the Movember Foundation for 2017 -2018. We know that good looking lawn and green spaces are well known for their mental health benefits and we know our Sir Walter DNA Certified lawn is a great partnership with the Movember foundation.  A great opportunity to convey this message and get women and in particular men active outside.

Whether it’s a BBQ with friends, backyard cricket, birthday or anniversary parties or even just the kids running around outside, Sir Walter DNA lawn gives you the ideal environment to maximise your outdoor living and help keep you in the right frame of mind. 

To celebrate the 20 years Superior Lawns Australia will be giving away “Loving your Lawn” books with every purchase of DNA Certified Sir Walter Buffalo lawn.

For more information contact us on 9303 2627 or visit www.lawnsolutionsaustralia.com.au or www.sirwalter.com.au

Why growing grass from seed is a bad idea

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Why should you buy turf instead of growing a lawn from seed? A good question and with the help from the team at Lawn Solutions Australia let us tell you why. 

If you have a look at the gardens in your street, you will find that 99% of the good ones are turfed, and not grown from seed, and there's a very good reason for this.


A great lawn requires great skill

All great Aussie lawns like our DNA certified Sir Walter Buffalo, Eureka Kikuyu and Nullarbor Couch are what we call male sterile and cannot not be grown from seed, not even on the turf farm can they be grown from seed, they have to be grown from live vegetative material that takes a lot of skill from us at Superior Lawns as well as every other Australian turf grower to turn it into lawn turf. If an experience turf producer cant grow it from seed - what chance does the average Joe have?

Grass grown from seed struggles in hot weather

It is true that seed will grow into some sort of ground cover in the colder wetter climates of Australia, however it will not be a drought tolerant lawn as usually it will be a cool season variety such as a seeded rye or fescue that may give a quick flush of green in a colder climate but once the hot weather comes along it can be gone forever. 

See the difference for yourself

A good test if you're still not convinced is to ask your seed supplier to show you a couple of front lawns they have supplied in your local area that are 5 years or older. You will be amazed at how few are grown from seed.

Want a lawn for life? 

So if you want a great long lasting Aussie lawn give us a call and get a great lawn for life. Remember only turf purchased through us comes with our 10 year warranty. 

Dethatching your lawn

If you’ve got a thatch issue going on, it’s a great time over the next month or so to get in a couple of low-mows (the other best time of year is at the end of Spring). 

A study carried out by the University of Western Australia a few years’ ago, compared different types of renovation for turf and they found that the results from a ‘hard-mow’ or ‘scalping’ was just as good as scarifying, coring, or grooming when it came to dethatching a lawn.

This should only be done a couple of times a year and works only for warm-season grasses like our DNA Certified Sir Walter Buffalo, Nullarbor Couch, Eureka Kikuyu and Velvetene. (NB. it should be avoided for cool season grass types). 

If your lawn feels ‘spongy’ to walk on then it may be time for such drastic action. For more lawn care tips visit Lawn Solutions Australia

5 Basic Lawn Mowing Tips to help you out this Spring/Summer

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Getting on top of your lawn mowing routine is essential for helping to create a beautiful, healthy, low maintenance lawn. Now is a great time to start getting back into the swing of things after a long winter dormancy. 

Regular mowing helps keeps weeds down, minimises grubs and makes the lawn less susceptible to disease and promotes healthy coverage by sending nutrients from the grass cuttings back into the soil. Plus a freshly mowed lawn looks and smells great!

Different lawn varieties have different mowing requirements but there are some basic standards. Knowing these fundamentals will make a big difference to the health and appearance of your lawn. 

Tip #1 Mow at the right height for your grass type

The proper height for mowing your lawn depends on your grass variety, season and growing conditions. Below is a rough guide for correct mowing heights for our lawn varieties (Spring/Summer guidelines);

Grass Type        Lawn Mowing Height 

Sir Walter Buffalo                        20 - 40mm                                                                    Nullarbor Couch                           12 - 15mm                                                                      Eureka Kikuyu                              12 - 15mm                                                                      Velvetene                                     10 - 12mm 

Tip #2 Don't mow your lawn too short

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Don't mow your lawn too short, as this can put your lawn under extreme stress (unless you are purposely scalping your lawn which we only recommend at the start of Spring). It can leave your lawn looking brown with bare patches on your lawn, and if cut too short regularly, this can seriously deplete the lawns energy reserves and is an open invitation for weeds to invade and seed.

Tip #3 Reduce mowing height gradually

If your lawn is overgrown, gradually reduce it to the correct height over a few mows. Avoid taking too much off the leaf blade in one go as this can stress the grass and it may require additional irrigation to recover. Taking no more then one-third of the blade length each mow is a good general rule. 

Tip #4 Mow your lawn regularly

Avoid long periods between mows - regular mowing is best. Keep in mind that your mowing routine may also need to change with the seasons. Sir Walter for example, loves hot summers and will have vigorous growth during this time.

Tip #5 Keep your lawn mower blades sharp

Sounds simple, but keeping your mower well maintained is very important. Sharp blades are crucial for a good cut. Blunt blades tend to tear, rather then cut the lawn. 

For more tips and tricks to keep your lawn looking spot on we recommend you visit the Lawn Solutions Australia Website. 

Top Dressing your lawn...

There are a few reasons why you should apply a top dressing to your lawn and here they are;

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  • If your lawn needs a boost of nutrients,
  • Is uneven,
  • Contains holes

You should always top dress to repair holes or uneven lawn just prior to the growing season (usually the beginning of Spring - not when the lawn is dormant as you can run the risk of damaging or even killing the lawn entirely! Top dressing for nutrients can be applied at any time though. It is not recommended to top dress on an annual basis as it can accelerate the build up of thatch. 

Top Dressing for Nutrients

When you 'top dress for nutrients' you are applying a thin layer of organic soil over the entire area of your lawn adding organic, natural nutrients and minerals. Usually you apply a top dressing for nutrients when your lawn is in need of a boost as this will encourage the production of new shoots and result in a thicker lawn (with the added bonus of hindering moss and weed infestation.)

Applying the top dressing will introduce materials to your soil that will improve drainage, allow the soil to exchange gases with the atmosphere more effectively whilst also promoting the development of the soils micro-flora and micro fauna which is needed to break down thatch and clippings. The earthworms will also get an extra feed which means they work their magic releasing nutrients into the soil.  

Bags of top dressing mixtures can be purchased from lawn care centres and nurseries and provide all the relevant handling and application information. Work out the square metres of your lawn before you buy; a general guide: a 2kg bag will be enough to top dress one square metre of lawn. 

** Make sure to mow your lawn the day before applying the top dressing and remove any debris.

Top Dressing to fix holes and uneven lawn 

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Similar to top dressing for nutrients, ensure the lawn has been mowed the day prior. The longer the grass the more sandy loam or clear river sand required to cover the area and a deeper layer of soil will make it harder for the grass to through through it. 

Evening out the lawn

It is recommended that a maximum height of 12mm is added at a time to uneven lawn. If the areas are deeper then 12mm apply a second layer after the original 12mm is added. Shovel the loam or sand onto the lawn in even piles and then level out with a garden leveller. The top of the lawn should remain visible. Once leveled, the lawn can be watered. 

To Fix holes in the lawn

For the repair of a hole deeper than 5cms use a shovel to raise the grass on top of the hole, place top dressing material underneath to elevate the level of the lawn. Then apply the top dressing to address any remaining unevenness as per the instructions above remembering that the tops of the lawn plants should remain visible and the top dressing needs to be watered in once evenly spread.

*** It is recommended to fertilise the lawn a week or two before applying a top dressing. This goes for any type of top dressing be it for nutrients, holes or unevenness. By applying the fertiliser beforehand it will give the lawn the boost it needs to push through the dressing more easily and quickly. 

Watering your lawn immediately after it has been top dressed and maintaining regular watering will give your lawn the boost it needs after what can be considered a 'stressful' process for it to recover from. 

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The original blog was taken from http://www.lawnsolutionsaustralia.com.au/blog/top-dressing-your-lawn/ for more information visit their website