The Lawn: Sod it or Plug it
If you want a new lawn that establishes within a month or so, use sods. This option is expensive but creates an instant effect. Before deciding on the job, visit the websites of lawn suppliers to check on the availability of different instant lawn types to suit your climate and needs, the price per square metre, and whether the quoted price includes delivery and installation.
Another option is to use stolons, of which many varieties are readily available in plug trays at most garden centres. Stolons or plugs will take longer to grow into a dense lawn, but will succeed with regular water and weed management. In both cases one has to do proper soil preparation before planting:
● Water the future lawn a day before digging it over to make the job easier.
● Dig the soil over to a depth of 30cm and remove old roots, stones and weeds. Break up large clay sods and add loads of quality compost to enrich the soil and make it more water-retentive.
● Spread super-phosphate or bone meal over the soil according to the instructions on the package and work it into the soil.
● Use a steel rake to level the soil to a fine tilth.
● Use a fine sprinkler to water the soil afterwards, and keep a lookout for puddles damming up in areas that are not level, so that you can correct them.
● Wait a week or two before laying the sods or planting the stolons, to check for weeds germinating again. Kill them off with a broad-spectrum herbicide.
Instant Lawn Types in a Nutshell
● A broad-leaved, affordable lawn type with a soft texture.
● As Kikuyu is a fast-growing lawn, it requires fairly high maintenance such as mowing once or even twice a week.
● Kikuyu requires full sun (it does not tolerate shade well) and regular watering in summer to keep it lush and healthy. Kikuyu is resistant to cold and light frost.
● Kikuyu can tolerate high foot traffic and is known for its overall toughness and ability to recover after being mangled by playing kids and dogs
● A broad-leaved grass with a soft texture and deep green colour.
● Buffalo lawn is indigenous and therefore recommended for complex gardens and natural areas where exotics are not allowed.
● Buffalo lawn is slow growing (which makes it much more expensive as an instant lawn option), but subsequently requires less maintenance as far as regular mowing is concerned. It should also never be mowed too short.
● Buffalo lawn tolerates medium foot traffic, but has a high shade tolerance that makes it suitable to areas with changing sun and shade patterns throughout the day.
● There are different varieties of Bermuda available for specific uses and different climates.
● Generally a soft-textured lawn with a deep green or blueish colour.
● Indigenous grass recommended for small, manicured gardens.
● Sensitive to frost, but grows very well (it can even be quite invasive) in the temperate winter-rainfall regions.
● This lawn type can tolerate high foot traffic but also requires high maintenance in summer and lots of water to keep it in top shape, although it will survive periods of drought.
Berea – also known as LM Grass
● Soft blades underfoot in a light green colour.
● An indigenous lawn that is very popular in KwaZulu-Natal, with a high shade tolerance.
● Berea grows faster than buffalo lawn and has a medium tolerance to foot traffic.