Lawn and Sports Turf Care and Maintenance in Durban
This article has been written specifically for the management of warm season grasses in
Following the establishment of your lawn, the focus now changes to Turf Management. Contrary to popular belief, Turf Management does not need to be a daily chore, although the amount of work necessary depends on the quality of lawn desired. For many only minor changes to existing Turf Management practices is all that is required to have a top quality lawn.
Grass species best suited to
commonly planted and certainly the two most suitable lawn grasses that
found growing in
dactylon the dominant grass in
Berea Grass Dactyloctenium australe, is a very versatile grass that is well suited to both domestic as well as amenity horticulture. Berea Grass grows best in full sun on sandy soils where it is found growing naturally in the coastal dune systems, it will also do well in medium shade.
A high quality weed free Berea Dactyloctenium
australe Lawn that
has allowed to briefly go to flower.
Country Club Paspalum vaginatum This local indigenous grass is a salt tolerant specialist grass that has been developed for golf greens and which is generally not suitable for domestic lawns.
Cynodon Hybrids. There are also specialist fine leafed hybrid grasses requiring specialised care to perform well which have been developed from Cynodon dactylon and Cynodon transvaalensis species for golf greens and are generally not suitable for any other use.
The following foreign grass
species are also
found growing in
Buffalo Grass Stenotaphrum
secundatum known elsewhere as St. Augustines Grass is an alien
grass from the
Kearsney or Carpet Grass Axonopus compressus as it is known elsewhere is a tropical grass from the Americas which is also an alien invasive grass from the Americas which I do not recommend planting in Durban.
clandestinum this is a highly
invasive very destructive foreign grass which does not like the hot
conditions at the coast but does grow well in the cooler inland suburbs
the most important task undertaken. Make sure the mower blades
sharp at all times as blunt blades will damage the grass leaves and
give a poor
quality unsightly cut. The commonly adopted approach to grass cutting
of scalping the lawn at periodic intervals, (i.e. setting the mower too
this causes serious damage to turf grasses, thus negatively affecting
quality of the lawn. This practice in conjunction with
inappropriate fertilizing is one of the main reasons why lawns become
and dominated by weeds. A mower with blunt blades, especially a rotary
mower that cuts lawn by impact does considerable physical damage to the
leaf which increases the grass plant's susceptibility to fungal and
attack, increases moisture loss and gives the lawn a ragged white look.
best mowers to use on fine turf are well set reel mowers that slice
through the grass leaf. Reel mowers give the finest cut and also roll
smooth and are used primarily on golf greens and fairways, sports
bowling greens and by the home gardener who demands a high quality
no circumstance whatever should a lawn ever be mowed with a edging
(weed eater) because the cutting action is by impacting the grass blade
blunt instrument the nylon cord which tears the grass leaf to shreds
very untidy ragged finish. The second reason for not using and edging
to cut lawn is that it is impossible to accurately control the correct
height the usual consequence is the lawn is cut far too short and very
the sensitive growing tips of the grass plants are totally destroyed
and avenue for the invasion of weeds which eventually completely take
replace the grass cover.
Each turf grass species has its own optimal mowing height for the use it is being put to. When mown regularly within the correct height range, a uniform dense turf cover is encouraged which limits the opportunity for weeds to establish. Conversely, mowing too low or too high thins the turf, which allows bare areas to develop, in time these areas become colonized by weeds. As a rule of thumb for home lawns a height between 25- 40 mm gives the best results. In shady areas the lawn should be allowed to grow a little longer. Short lawns look neater however the grass plants have shorter roots systems, and suffer more environmental stress. This means that short lawns require very careful management, in particular watering, fertilizing and mowing. Increasing the height of cut under stress conditions in particular during summer drought periods is a good management practice, which helps to maintain a healthy lawn.
The rule of thumb is to remove no more than 25% of the grass plant leaf at any one time. Scalping (removing all or most of the leaf and the growing points, as well as parts of the stem) severely damages or kills the turf grass plants thus allowing weed seeds the opportunity to germinate and to establish themselves in the lawn, this bad management practice provides the opportunity for weeds to better compete.
Mowing height and frequency will depend on:
If you wish to improve the appearance of the lawn for a special event, the best result will be achieved through an increase in mowing frequency not a lowering of height. This may involve mowing up to three times per week. This increase in frequency should begin at a minimum two weeks before the event. Spraying the lawn with ferrous sulphate will give it a rich green colour in a matter of days
Grass clippings can be left on the lawn after cutting, rather than removing them this applies in particular to domestic lawns on sandy soils. The clippings decompose quickly, returning nutrients to the soil within weeks of mowing. The macro elements contained within the clippings comprise of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium at ratios of 5:2:3, respectively. Trace minerals are also present. The amount of nitrogen returned to the soil is as much as 88 kg/ha. Since nitrogen is the most expensive component of all lawn fertilizers, it pays to leave clippings.
Clippings also enhance the habitat for
beneficial soil micro-organisms.
Earthworms ingest the clippings at night, further increasing the
fertility of the soil, and maintaining a base that allows the lawn to
springy when walked on. If the grass clippings are removed, worms will
to other more favourable habitats this will negatively influence soil
The lawn will not
require to be fertilized as often.
plants, which make lawns as with all living organisms, require
grow and to be healthy. Regular applications of fertilizer supply the
nutrients thus ensuring vigorous healthy grass plants and a top quality
The nutrients essential for growth within the soil are nitrogen (N),
(P), potassium (K) and iron (Fe). As a result of lawn culture certain
plant nutrients are lost to the system, due to the removal of grass
leaching of nutrients out of the root zone as well as losses of
nitrogen to the
atmosphere. Nitrogen deficient grass is yellow-green, and lacks vigour.
Nitrogen produces deep green leaves, rapidly growing leaves and shorter
Phosphorus facilitates metabolic functions plus energy storage and use.
Potassium is used to create cell components, and it helps regulate
and transpiration. It helps the plant grow, withstand environmental
resist disease. Fertilizers should contain N, P and K. where possible
balanced fertilizer that contains a mixture of slow and fast release N.
allows the lawn to green up with 2-3 days and stay green for several
Iron can be used to control moss and some broad-leaved weeds. Iron
grass, making it appear greener without stimulating growth. In
Always use a balanced lawn fertilizer.
the concentration to 150 to 200 grams and not only will it have a good
effect but it will also harden the turf making it more resistant to
fungal attack. This is a very common practice on sports turf in late
winter in Europe but seldom if ever encountered here in
lawn begins to turn yellow then it may need fertilizer for chlorophyll
synthesis to occur.
Article written by Michael Hickman on 28 November 2013
experience with establishing and managing both warm season as well as
season grasses which has been gained in
Sports Turf Construction Experience
sports turf construction
experience includes the construction of many sports fields for
hockey and cricket, golf course greens, bowling greens, turf wickets in
Amenity Turf Construction Experience
of my amenity turf
construction experience comes from over 28 years constructing and
parks and gardens for the Durban Parks Department, I also gained
experience as a private contractor constructing parks and establishing
season grasses mostly for the North Shore City Council in Auckland New
Sports Turf and Amenity Turf Maintenance Experience
Most of my sports turf and amenity turf maintenance experience comes from the maintenance of a large number of parks, sports fields, road verges etc that were under my direct care as a horticulturist then later as a horticultural manager during the 28 years that I was employed by the Durban Parks Department
Domestic lawn Establishment and Maintenance Experience
establishment and maintenance experience has been gained on warm season
a number of years I
over seeded portions of my own domestic lawn in