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Troubleshooting your lawn

At LTS we recognise that your lawn is part of what is for most of us our biggest asset – our home.  We want you to get the desired result out of your lawn and in our experience that is a healthy, economical and attractive lawn.  We can help you achieve this.

A healthy, efficient lawn should have deep roots able to retrieve water atleast 30cm or more below the surface. After a deep watering the deeper soil remains moist long after the surface has dried out. That’s where you want your roots to reach.

Troubleshooting your lawn

99% of lawn problems we see are caused by insufficient water reaching where and when the grass needs it.

Insufficient water may be from any or a combination of the following factors. When assessing a lawn we carry out all of the following checks first.

Is enough water being applied? – The most effective way to determine if your reticulation system is delivering enough water is to put out catch cups and test the water coverage produced by your sprinklers. If your lawn is not receiving 10mm each watering to all areas adjust your irrigation system.

We often see people not hold the catch cup level when checking the measurement so we recommend photographing the catch cup in the ground from the side  Small tins or any straight-sided, flat-bottomed container can also be used and the water depth measured with a tape measure.

Is the soil hydrophobic? Water does not penetrate water repellent soil very well if at all. Once you have checked the correct amount of water is being applied to your lawn evenly, have a look to see if this water is penetrating into the root zone. To do this pour some water on to your lawn. In really bad cases the water will run off or pool on the surface of the lawn (as in the picture below). Now dig into your lawn to see where it is going. Wait a few minutes then dig out a Triangle wedge where you poured the water to see where the water went. The water should have penetrated into the soil and root zone. If the water did not penetrate into the soil/root zone of your lawn treat the hydrophobic soil and/or dead organic material by applying a good quality wetting agent like Eco-Growth’s Eco-Wet which has been formulated for our WA soils.

soil hydrophobic

Soil Hydrophobic

Eco Wet

Eco Wet

Another potential cause is excessive soil compaction (hardness). Is the ground under your lawn too hard? Compact hard ground can prevent the water from physically penetrating the ground to the roots plus grass roots don’t like hard ground. Compact ground makes root growth physically difficult as the roots have to expend extra energy and push through this physical barrier. To determine if your ground is too hard perform what we call the “Screwdriver test”. Try pushing a large screwdriver into the soil. Watch out for your reticulation and any underground services. If the screwdriver does not go in to the ground easily your ground is too hard and needs aerating by a mechanical coring machine or this can be done manually with a pitchfork or hand aerating tool, such as the Trident.

Moss is also a common indication that your ground is too hard. Often the only treatment required to alleviate moss is to alleviate the lack of drainage caused by compaction.

Sometimes the Screwdriver test will reveal rubble, cap rock and other unwanted debris below the surface. This kind of material stops roots from growing and limits the roots to the upper soil that dries out quicker in the summer. In addition large amounts of rubble can heat up in the summer months causing the lawn to be ‘baked’ from above and below. Removal is the best option but not always possible with cap rock. In this situation we recommend raising your lawn to provide 250mm of good topsoil.

Large tree roots can also contribute to soil compaction. Root pruning is sometimes necessary to resolve this problemOur tractor drawn root pruner slices through problematic roots while providing the highly efficient decompacting benefits of slicing (essentially it is a small Earthquake decompactor).

Is there too much thatch in your lawn? Thatch is the layer of dead vegetative material between the soil and the crown of the grass plants. Thatch is broken down by microbes in the soil and returns nutrients to the soil and grass. Having some thatch is beneficial. Too much thatch prevents water and nutrients from reaching the soil and roots, makes the lawn spongy to walk on and can make it difficult to achieve a consistent mowing result. De-thatching can be carried out using hand de-thatching tools, vertimowing machines and to a lesser degree by very low mowing (scalping). We recommend de-thatching in the Spring and Autumn when the weather is not too hot and the grass is actively growing. Following up with a light topdressing will also help the breakdown of thatch.

If you are having problems with your LTS lawn please let us know. Please complete the following form and attach photos of (1) your whole lawn, (2) the grass and soil profile like the examples, (3) photos of the problem area, (4) photos of problem weeds.

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