Turf Care—Sunshine Coast
Preparation & Maintenance
Your new turf requires lots of watering for the first two weeks and it will die if it is not done on a daily basis, preferably twice a day in the warmer months. To become a beautifully established turf, it needs watering regularly, mowing, fertilisation and herbicide application when necessary. Your turf will only look as good as the amount of effort you have put into it on a regular basis. If you want your turf to look the best in the street, follow the regime as outlined below.
Preparation for turfing
Please check with your local water authority before turfing to find out about water restrictions – if any. If you need more detailed guide how to prepare for your turf laying, check this article.
Clear the area of all debris – sticks, stones and any other materials. Is the ground in need of drainage? Now is the time to sort this out. You should ensure that the ground slopes away from your house, driveway and back deck and that the soil height finishes 100mm below weep holes so that when installed your turf’s finish will be 75mm (brick height) below as required so that your termite barrier is not compromised.
If there are herbages growing, spray with glyphosate (Roundup) at the recommended rate a minimum of 10 days prior to laying your turf. It is almost impossible to kill a half dead weed so make sure they are strong and healthy and have not been mowed for a week or two prior to treating. Give the area a mow a few days later and prior to installing new soil and/or turf. Soil improvement prior to planting ensures that the grass roots will establish more easily with deep penetration to enable the turf to be more drought resistant and a more efficient user of water and nutrients.
Ideally you should till the soil if it is very compacted and test the pH level to determine if it would benefit with the addition of lime or gypsum to improve its structure. If the current soil is poor and there is room for more, we recommend spreading under-turf blend soil which is rich in humus to hold moisture and encourage microbes, fertiliser and a premium sandy loam.
An easy way to work out how much soil you need is to measure the square metres of your yard and multiply the number by the centimeter height of the soil required. Example 125 square metres x 7 cm depth of soil would be 125 x .07 = 8.75 cubic metres. A tipper usually carries 10 cubic metres which is the most economical way to order soil. Perhaps you could order the full truck and put the excess soil aside for gardens, adding manure and other nutrients for a perfect garden blend.
We recommend additional soil should be installed at a minimum of 50mm depth. Finally, whether the soil is spread with a Bobcat or Kanga, it will require a light rake ensuring that hard surfaces such as gutters, driveways and patios are 30mm higher so that turf does not sit proud. The final finish you achieve is only as good as the preparation and after these steps, your site is now ready for turfing.
Installing your turf
Schedule your order for delivery of the turf after your preparation has been completed.
Prepare in readiness soaker hoses, sprinklers and handheld hoses as it is important to commence watering each section as you finish laying to help the new turf maintain its moisture level. Failing to do this from the start will cause the turf to dry out and go into shock, especially on hot days and its recovery will be impeded. It is important not to overwater, remembering that at this time, there are no roots in your soil and therefore you should only be watering to the depth of the turf and lightly under it.
Pull back the corner of the slabs or rolls of turf to check the water has penetrated at least 25mm into the soil underneath. Too much water will be a waste and make it difficult to walk on when rolling after you finish and your ground’s levels will be compromised.
Choose your weapon – something to cut the turf lengths that are too long – a cane knife or sharpened shovel will do. Begin installing your turf along the straightest line in your yard, usually parallel to the gutter, driveway or footpath.
We recommend that you turf around an entire edge of the area and then commence laying in a bricklayer pattern inside of it, making sure that the turf rolls or slabs butt up against each other tightly. You should avoid leaving gaps and try not to leave small pieces of turf on the outside of the area you are turfing as these will dry out quicker. If you are turfing around a curve, splice the sides of the turf so that they can be shaped to fit.
After installing, we recommend that you use a roller on the turf to press the joins together and to have good contact with the soil. Half fill the roller and after pushing it across your newly laid turf give the yard a light sprinkle of water to clean its leaves that may have soil residue on them.
Watering your turf within thirty minutes of installation of each area is critical to its recovering, especially in summer. Keeping your turf moist by watering, preferably twice a day for the first ten days, is ideal and a minimum watering of once a day ongoing until firmly knitted – usually two to three weeks. Weather will play a big part in your watering regime, remembering that particularly hot, windy days will require three or four rounds of water daily to maintain your turf’s health. Ideally you should water early and/or late in the day to retain the water and minimise evaporation.
To encourage deep root growth, the length of time watering should increase after the first week. Remember that when it rains, quite often the turf under eaves does not get wet. These areas will require extra watering as the turf tends to dry out as the building reflects heat in these areas.
Limit traffic on your new lawn
Try to limit people and pet traffic on your new lawn during the first month. This consideration will ensure that your turf has the best possible start to a healthy, established root system. In extreme heat and wind, water more often.
When can I mow?
Your turf should be ready for its first mow in two to four weeks, depending on the time of year. In cooler months the turf will take up to four weeks to establish and in warmer months it could be in two weeks. When the turf cannot be lifted, it is ready to be mowed.
Cut at regular intervals and weekly in the warmer months so that it doesn’t get too long.
Never remove more than one third of the leaf per mowing session. Ideally, couch lawns should be mowed at 20 to 25mm and buffalo lawns at 30 to 35mm. Whipper snipping regularly will decrease the chance of the turf-invading garden beds, paths and driveways.
Lawn grubs are prevalent in the warmer months between September and April and are at their worst during the wet season. Turf should be sprayed every four weeks during these months so that your turf is not damaged by lawn grubs. Contrary to popular belief, lawn grubs eat only the leaves of your turf, leaving its roots exposed to the sun and causing even more damage.
If you have brown areas in your yard during these months and it is not caused by the turf being too dry or a pet using the spot regularly, chances are you have lawn grubs. If you lie down close to these brown areas, you should see bite marks from lawn grubs on the green leaves on the border.
Various brands are available from hardware, nursery or produce stores. There are granules to spread monthly if there is no current lawn grub presence or spray-on treatments that will get rid of them within twenty-four hours. Lawn grubs have a three-week life cycle so extra treatments may be required within the month if the turf has been badly affected. You should be guided by the product and the store where you purchase can offer helpful advice and recommend products for any other problem you are having with your turf.
When do I fertilise?
Your turf has been fertilised prior to the point of sale and further fertilising will not be required for four to six weeks after installation. Ideally, organic fertiliser should be used to improve the microbes in your soil and to minimise the chance of burning your turf when other types are not watered in enough.
Chemical-based fertilisers are best used when a “quick fix” is required – for example the house is being listed for sale and “green” is required as soon as possible. Remember to water in thoroughly.
Follow instructions on the bag or bottle for the correct amount of fertiliser required for the area. Requirements may vary depending on the soil type and season and fertilising in winter is not recommended. We recommend fertilising every four to six weeks in the warmer months.
The team at Sunshine Coast Turf are keen to assist our customers. Here are some questions we are often asked. Please phone us on 0408 193 362 if you require further help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Size depends on the type of turf and which farm is harvesting. Each slab is 600mm wide and can be either 1.2 metres x 600mm or 1.7 metres x 600mm. However, we calculate the turf by the square metre, so this is the best way to order.
A pallet holds 50 to 60 square metres of turf depending on the moisture level and variety. It can weigh up to 750kgs including the pallet’s weight. Each pallet is 1200mm wide and the turf overhangs slightly. When picking up turf from our farms, customers must be sure the turf is securely tied down and vehicles/trailers are not overloaded.
One square metre is the smallest amount our harvesters can cut. However, it is not economical to cut small orders on their own so they must be harvested in conjunction with other orders so tell us early.
We recommend a maximum of 40 square metres as a safe load for a utility vehicle or 6’x4’ trailer. However, if you have a combination of a ute and trailer, this amount will increase. The weight will vary depending on soil moisture and turf variety.
Distributing between 50 and 100mm of screened topsoil is highly recommended. Ideally, use a quality underturf mix – humus to hold moisture, fertiliser and a sandy loam. Gypsum is recommended to break down and condition clay soils and lime is ideal if your soil is too acidic. Having the correct pH of 6 to 6.5 is important for healthy lawns as this allows plants to access the nutrients in soil. A soil test kit is available from a rural store and is affordable.
Rid the area to be turfed of grasses and weeds by spraying glyphosate a minimum of five days prior to laying your new turf. Spraying may need to be repeated if weeds and grasses continue to germinate prior to installing the turf. Be sure to follow directions regarding application and safety handling of all herbicides and we recommend keeping children and animals away from the area for a minimum of 24 hours.
Applying a starter organic fertiliser (chook, blood and bone) prior to laying turf will promote faster root growth. The fertiliser should be lightly raked in after spreading unless it is in pellet form. Be sure to follow directions if using a non-organic fertiliser. Water in thoroughly and don’t distribute more than is needed as it will burn the turf’s roots. The fertiliser can be purchased in advance from us or delivered with the turf.
A fairly conservative formula is three fit and healthy people can install two pallets (100m2) of turf in one hour. Ideally, early mornings and afternoons are the best times, especially in summer. However, we have professional turf installers who can do the work for you for the best possible finish if you choose.
Spring and autumn are considered to be the best times because of cooler temperatures and more available moisture. However, with our temperate tropical climate, you can plant in summer provided you keep your turf watered regularly. The winter months on the Sunshine Coast are mild and turf can be installed successfully but the establishment time is longer, therefore requiring watering days for a longer period.
Our turf delivery is palletised and delivered by an all-terrain forklift on our truck that can carry up to ten pallets. Slide-off pallets are used in most cases as this enables our forklift to remove your turf and take the pallet with us.
Turf can be cut with a machete, an old knife or even a shovel. Turf cuts easily and can be shaped to fit. Splice the edges if there is a curve and lay in a brick pattern horizontal to the kerb after running line of turf around the entire edge of the area you are turfing.
Turf should be installed within 24 hours of being harvested and 12 hours in summer. In winter, it can stay on the pallets for a couple of days and continue to look fresh and green.
Turf must be watered as soon as it is laid to prevent it drying out and going into shock. It’s recommended to have someone watering as the turf is being installed. The turf does not have roots in the soil so you can overwater at this time. Test the watered area by lifting a piece of installed turf and making sure that water has penetrated its thickness and the soil beneath is just wet. Water twice daily for the first ten to fourteen days to establish the lawn and every two to three days thereafter depending on the season. If there are strong, hot winds or very hot days, we recommend watering three times a day.
In warmer weather, turf takes root quickly and when you cannot lift a piece of installed turf and it has leaf growth, you are ready for your first mow. We recommend you mow a little higher than usual for the first mow and then weekly throughout the warmer months or when needed. Empire Zoysia takes a little longer to settle in and will take up to five weeks in cooler months for its roots to spread through the undersoil.
Turf applied to slopes will help retain water, reduce soil erosion, and provide instant cover and protection. However, it should be watered more often. Adding water crystals and/or dolomite prior to installation will help keep moisture in the soil on sloped area. Stakes may be needed to hold the sod in place while the roots are established. These can be purchased from a rural store or kebab sticks broken off at ground level are also useful if the slope is not too steep.
Turf requires three things to survive – moisture, nutrition, and sunlight. The best type of turfs for shaded areas are Broad leaf turfs such as Matilda soft leaf buffalo, carpet grass and Sweet Smother absorb sunlight much quicker and will grow with a minimum of three hours of sun per day. Empire™ Zoysia and Tropika Blue need a minimum of five hours sun while the finer leaf turfs such as Wintergreen require a minimum of six hours sun to flourish. When assessing the amount of sun in your yard, remember to allow for seasonal changes to shade conditions and the expected growth pattern on trees in the yard.
There can be a number of reasons for this. Scalping by the lawn mower, incorrect use of herbicide or pesticide, fungal attack, lawn grubs, heat stress or heavy foot traffic. Your pets can also contribute to these areas, especially if they insist on repeatedly visiting one area. Lawn grubs are active in the summer months and a preventative treatment program is the best protection on a monthly basis, especially in the wet season. Lawn grubs are not a problem in winter.
River sand is ideal for levelling your turf as it will wash into the cracks and hollows when you hose and will not cake or crack pm top like topsoil. Wait a couple of months after new turf has been installed to give it a chance to settle in.
Dog spots are characterised by yellowing of turf in patches caused by the acidic nature of dogs’ urine. Water the affected areas to reduce the damage and encourage your dog to drink more water. Ask your vet for advice about the best diet to keep your dog healthy.