The journey to growing a great lawn

Head Gardener

Julie Armstrong

Corynnia Station, New South Wales

Julie Armstrong smiling with her arms crossed, standing in front of her garden

Ensuring your backyard has a healthy, thriving turf can be challenging in the best of times, but it’s a hurdle made even more difficult if you are growing grass in a tough climate.

Julie Armstrong, from Corynnia Station, west of Griffith in NSW faced the full gamut of obstacles, including drought and plummeting temperatures, when establishing the pristine rolling lawn at her homestead. The lawn doubles as a tourist attraction, welcoming guests from across the country as part of Julie’s unique outback homestay venture.

With more than forty years’ experience, she has shared some of her best methods to growing a great lawn under trying conditions.

What’s the best way to establish a lawn from scratch if you have a tight budget?

The best, and easiest way to start your lawn is to prepare your soil accordingly and lay down a good turf variety. However, if you’re on a budget and can’t afford to purchase a whole lot of turf, you can make a good start with lawn runners. By repeatedly cutting, placing and watering a series of lawn runners across your garden, you will have a large amount of lawn in no time.

How can you boost the growth of your grass if you are in a dry climate?

Once you have a substantial amount of grass coverage in your garden, steps can be taken to ensure it grows as quickly as possible. The first of these is to water your yard consistently, you cannot rely on rainfall alone if you are in a dry region. So consider options like ground water, rainwater from a tank, or recycled water. Good soil moisture in your garden will prevent patchy lawns from developing, which can be very difficult to mend.

Is it possible to overwater a lawn?

While consistent watering is a sure-fire way to boost your lawn’s growth, it is important to be aware of just how damp the ground is. Too much watering can lower oxygen levels and prevent your lawn from breathing properly. This can lead to rot and the grass can die completely.

High moisture levels in the soil can also foster the perfect habitat for insects and pests. When there is too much water in your backyard, it is likely that more weeds will grow. This then provides a fertile breeding ground for unwanted critters. Therefore, it’s important to keep a close eye on the soil moisture levels and adjust your watering accordingly.

What’s the ideal mowing cycle and perfect cut for lawn grown in a dry region?

My advice is to frequently trim your lawn, rather than dramatically mowing it down on an irregular basis. This will promote consistent grass growth and create excellent coverage across your yard.

What’s the best way to prevent frost damage?

A good, healthy grass coverage has preventative long-term benefits when facing frosts. An even grass coverage is providing the roots with a layer of protection in frosty seasons, and it also holds soil moisture in the warmer months.

What are hardy grass varieties you recommend for people living in tough growing conditions?

Grass varieties such as kikuyu and couch are quite tough, however, they are known to spread quickly through gardens if they aren’t managed properly. All it takes is a quick trip around the edges of your garden beds with a whipper snipper to keep any pesky runners at bay.

Read more about Julie's Story