When you hear the word ‘renovation’, doing up a house or building is probably the first thing that comes to mind, but lawns can also be renovated to keep them healthy and fresh year-round.
After 25 years’ experience in greenkeeping, Head Groundsman at Queensland’s Toowoomba Christian College, Dwaine Joanknecht, has honed his lawn rejuvenation ritual down to three main steps: dethatching, aeration and top dressing.
John Deere has collaborated with Dwaine to share his pro tips on keeping lawns healthy and in prime condition to be enjoyed this summer.
Dwaine’s top tips for renovating your lawn.
When should I renovate my lawn?
I would recommend rolling out a lawn renovation project when your grass is actively growing, so anytime in the summer months is ideal. Renovating during this period will ensure grass can recover quickly from the renovation process.
How can I check if my soil is healthy?
There is no substitute to digging a hole and having a look at the soil for yourself. Even professionals can forget to perform this basic task. No one has X-Ray vision, so if you don’t look below the surface at your soil you are simply guessing.
What do I need and where is the best place to start with a lawn renovation?
Step one is dethatching. This is the process of removing dead material from your lawn, and all you need is a garden rake. To dethatch, simply drag the rake’s prongs deep into the grass to pull any dead material to the surface.
In doing this, you will create a thatch pile on the top of your lawn, which you can remove by either mowing, raking or even sweeping it up. Dethatching works exceptionally well to make your lawn healthy, and resilient to pests and diseases.
After dethatching, what’s the best way to improve the health of the grass?
Once the lawn has been dethatched, the next step is creating aeration within the soil and root zone so water can seep down deeper into the ground, encouraging the roots of the grass to spread further to create a healthier plant system.
You can do this by punching holes into the turf’s surface, either with a corer machine, or even with a pitchfork. The process is as simple as driving a pitchfork into the ground, approximately 10 centimetres deep, so we get a thorough aeration across the turf’s surface.
Do you have any tips for improving a bumpy or inconsistent turf surface?
This is a common problem, which is easily fixed by top dressing the lawn. A top dressing simply involves adding soil to the top of the grass and the process helps smooth out the surface and removes any irregularities or bumps across the ground. I prefer to use a sandy-loam soil type which is easy to spread over the grass.
The secret is to not smother the grass with the new soil, but just provide a nice, even coating. The best way to apply this is with a shovel — use a wide sweeping movement to ensure an even sprinkle of the top dressing is applied.
How quickly will this process work to restore my lawn?
You will notice a difference within a few weeks. For me personally, maintaining my lawn through a simple renovation every now and then ensures the grass is healthy, which means my kids can enjoy the backyard for playing all year round.