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Building Strong Lawns in Townsville

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Jason Lange

on 21 August 2015

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Transcript of Building Strong Lawns in Townsville

'Strong Lawns are Watered Just Enough'
Warm and Dry Periods
Cool and Dormant Periods
Hot and Wet Periods
Why can lawn training be difficult in Townsville?
wastes our precious water
can cost you money
can weaken plants
can cause root damage
promotes shallow roots
can leach or wash nutrients into our waterways
can promote weed growth
How long should we water in Townsville?
Extended dry periods
Heavy clay soils with poor infiltration
High 'clothes dryation' (pan evaporation)
Poor species selection and watering practices
Selecting the right hardware for your lawn can be difficult
Why is lawn training important?
water is finite and expensive
energy is finite and expensive
we know a lot of water and electricity is wasted on Townsville lawns....70% water is in the lawn and garden
we know lawns are healthier when watered 'just enough'
Dealing with difficult soils of Townsville
Building Strong Lawns in Townsville:
Encouraging healthy lawns and saving water

Over Watering:
low pH (acidic) - add lime (dolomite)
high pH (alkaline) - ammonium sulphate fertiliser
salt affected soils - regular flushing
image courtesy of Ross Coventry - Soil Horizons
Common Townsville Soils
Building a strong lawns starts with understanding the 'foundations'
source: www.mysmartgarden.org.au
Clay soils can become rock hard during the dry
Clay soils can stay boggy during the wet
Clay soils may require amendments to improve soil structure and help water and nutrient movement (coming up!)
Often new development sites have dense/compacted clays that can take years to recover
Good guide is 1-2 kg gypsum / sq m
Sandy soils common in coastal suburbs
Sandy soils typically drain well
Sandy soil are typically low in organic content
Sandy soil require careful watering to avoid nutrient leaching
Sandy soils hide irrigation leaks well
Seasonal Watering is Critical
Seasonal Watering is Critical
Hot -------Cool-------Warm
Hot and Wet
Cool and Dormant
Warm and Dry
Rule of Thumb (25mm) -
per week for maintenance and consider
for revival
August - November
Great for drying clothes
Good time to fertilise your lawn to promote strong growth, ensure you do not over fertilise. Consider giving your catcher a rest during this time
Try the 'key' or 'screwdriver' test to check soil health
This is a high stress time for lawns - this is ok and if well trained, they will recover well in the wet season.
December - April
Rule of Thumb (25mm) regularly exceeded by high rainfall - critical over watering period
Fertilising during this time can cause additional stress and damage waterways
Consider giving your catcher a run during the wet season - particularly with buffalo
Resist close cutting to help build strong roots - consider alternative turf choices to save Sundays
'Lawn-off' - Townsville Trial in Saving Sundays
Recreational Science Results
Zoysia matrella
maintained 100% cover
10 catchers less per mow
sustained without irrigation
only just topped up the fuel tank
105 days = 18.53kg of waste
Estimated to save up to 13 mows/year
Zoysia (Ben and Jess)
Couch - Joss and Jason
Buffalo - Smithy and Nikki
If catchment management starts at home - lets unpack what the analytics are telling us
Lawn-Off Competitors
Lawn Dormancy - not even water will wake it up!
Zoysia Clippings - entire month of May
Lawns sleep in winter and not even water will wake them up!
April - July
Again, Rule of Thumb (25mm)
per week
Deep infrequent watering will promote strong roots to sustain this period
Keep an eye on your lawn - don't fertilise or over water whilst dormant
Did you know that almost 50% of
household energy use is actually required to get water to and from your home?
Fertilising Tips
Ensure you apply 'just enough'
Nitrogen-rich and phosphorus poor is best
The best NPKS ratio about 15:4:12:14
always apply before you water
Strong Lawn Cheat Sheet
"No more than twice a week when its dry and never when its wet"
= 25mm
How to check my rule of thumb (25mm)?

Large droplet sizes
Low droplet angle
Slow soaking rate
Promotes strong roots
Saves water
Covers large area
Can save time
Suitable for low pressures
Australian made
Why Low Flow?
Time how long it takes to fill a couple of containers to 25mm under your different sprinklers

Technical note: watering in the heat of the day can reduce the amount of water reaching your soil by up to 25% compared to early morning or late afternoon!
A guide to some sprinklers and Townsville
36 liters/minute (8m diameter)
19 liters/minute (12m diameter)
22 liters/minute (8m diameter)
10 liters/minute (15m diameter)
Strong Lawn Summary
At par with other major cities during the wet season
Usage increases 600% during the dry season
What the data tells us...
Managing our internationally recognised assets starts at home - links between lawns and the Great Barrier Reef
rainfall exceeds evap
Deep infrequent watering promotes strong root growth
Stronger roots can be trained through infrequent mowing and deep, infrequent watering

Clay soils will generally only absorb 5mm of water per hour
First cool night of 2014
Let the Rain do the work for you!
Full transcript