Gardening in South Africa involves more than just plant nutrition and protection. Regular garden care and hands-on maintenance is key to growing the outdoor space of your dreams. We recommend tackling each area of your garden individually to achieve the best results, starting with lawn maintenance.
Lawns are typically the predominant feature of gardens, so they can make or break your outdoor aesthetic. If you’ve mastered the art of expert lawn care, other garden maintenance pales in comparison. Adjust your lawn care for the different seasons with help from our guides below:
The secret to achieving a perfect lawn is to scarify, fertilise and weed in spring, and to regularly fertilise, water and mow during summer. A beautiful lawn complements the rest of the garden and makes it look fantastic.
Start by scarifying to remove dead, matted grass on stolon-type Cynodon species or frosted kikuyu lawns. Set your lawnmower to a low setting and cut away at least half of the dead grass. Rake and remove the remaining lower levels of thatch until there is only a sparse covering of old dead grass. Note: Never scarify bunch-type, cool-season, evergreen grasses.
A vital step in proper lawn maintenance is aeration of the lawn and soil.
Aerate heavy clay soils and lawn in early spring with a garden fork or a hollow-tined fork to improve drainage and reduce waterlogging problems. This helps the grass to grow better.
Apply lawn dressing – a sterilised mixture of soil and compost – to fill in any holes and even out the lawn.
Fertilise your lawn with the specialised Wonder Lawn & Leaf fertiliser. This encourages thick green growth.
Winter tends to bring weeds by the bucket-load, so by now your garden will probably need a good weeding. Apply a selective broadleaf herbicide to remove unwanted weeds.
Every year, up to a quarter of a lawn can die. And even more after a cold or wet winter. Spring is the best time to sow a new lawn or overseed an existing lawn to bring it back to life. Overseeding improves the lawn’s appearance, and by increasing the density of the grass you will also reduce weed invasion. You can overseed with any of the Mayford grass seeds. For shaded areas under trees where many other grasses would struggle, use shade over lawn seed. For reasonably shaded areas, use LM (Berea) lawn seed. Good preparation is key when laying a new lawn or over-seeding an area, so be sure to mix Wonder Plant Starter All Purpose into the soil to encourage root and foliage growth.
To maintain an immaculate lawn, correct and regular mowing is crucial. During the growth phase, cut the grass weekly, and more frequently as the weather warms up. Your aim should be to keep the grass at the same height all through spring and summer. For most lawns, this should be about 2.5-4 cm high. For lawns that take a lot of wear and tear, the height is better raised to 5cm. For very shaded areas, mow at a height of 7,5 cm. Keep in mind that mowing too short will weaken the grass, allowing weeds to take over the lawn.
If fallen leaves are a problem, remove them from the lawn as regularly as possible. If you wait until all the leaves have dropped, your grass will be fighting for survival. Aim for weekly removal throughout autumn and winter to avoid disease. Use a garden rake to collect the leaves for your compost heap.
If you’ve left the grass box off the mower during summer, you’ll notice a layer of thatch on the soil surface. This layer is a big no-no for your lawn, as it prevents rainwater from getting through and grass plants from spreading. It also encourages a host of diseases. So best you get to work and rake that pesky layer away.
Compact soil is no good for healthy grass growth, as rainwater can’t penetrate it. Aeration in autumn will improve the soil’s drainage capability, and help strengthen the grass. A hollow-tine fork is ideal for the job as it removes plugs of earth to a depth of about 10 cm. The wide air channel not only relieves the packed-down effect created by walking on the lawn, but also aerates the soil. March is the best time to practice deep spiking, and again in early spring.
If a lawn is weak, weeds will take advantage of this and spread to fill every gap in sight. Broadleaf weeds can be easily controlled with the help of a selective herbicide (Pest control health and safety guide):
All the mowing in summer should be followed up by a good feed before winter sets in. Choose Wonder Plant Booster All Purpose, a fertiliser containing balanced nutrients and slow-release nitrogen. Apply the fertiliser according to the directions and you will be rewarded with a greener lawn that is sturdy and refreshed!
Drought, wear and tear, and animal abuse are all causes of dead patches. As is the scalping of the surface by a mower that is set too low. Whatever the cause, re-seeding the area during autumn may be the best remedy. The procedure is simple:
Northern harvester termites feed on grass lawns in winter, often making small circles of cut grass around forage holes. Treat with ready-to-use Efekto Kamikaze (Pest control health and safety guide):
Alternatively, you can use Efekto Plant Protector to treat the nests. Simply dissolve 50 ml in five litres of water, and pour 500 ml of the mixture down each hole. As always, follow the safety instructions provided on the product.
When you’ve got the right gardening advice, anything is possible! (When it comes to growing, mowing and sowing, that is.) Grow the right plants at the right time with help from our monthly gardening calendar.