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After a pretty slow start following an uncommonly wet and cold winter spring is now in full bloom! Your temperate grasses will be growing significantly faster and the subtropical species such as kikuyu and couchgrass will also be starting to flourish in response to increasing temperatures and longer daylight hours.
 
I've once again compiled a list of some pointers that could require attention over the following month.  Please note that these tips are specific for the type of lawn described. For instance treatments that are intended for warm season grasses such as kikuyu and couchgrass do not apply to other cool season or temperate turf varieties;
 
  • October and November are the months when grasses tiller (or replicate) most prolifically. Tillering is an important process because it effects the density of your lawn. A dense lawn means less weed invasion because these unwanted guests colonise gaps in the sward. From a management perspective this means that it is advisable to increase the mowing frequency at this time of the year.
  • If you are harvesting more litter then this means you need to add more nutrients so it is recommended to fertilise your lawn now using a slow release fertiliser such as Turf Gold.
  • A flush of germinating broadleaf weeds normally accompanies Spring.  Therefore it is recommended to selectively remove these species from your lawn at this time as it gives the remaining grasses adequate time to re-colonise those areas before the onslaught of summer. For cool season grasses such as ryegrass, fine fescue, tall fescue, NZ Browntop and Kentucky Bluegrass I recommend using either the ingredients Triclopyr and Picloram (found in products sold under the names as Triumph, Victory, Tordon Gold and Tordon Brushkiller)  or products that contain Mecoprop, Dicamba & MCPA (found in products such as Broadsword)   If applied at the specified label rate these products will be effective at selectively removing the vast majority of dicotyledenous plants (broadleaf weeds & clovers) without effecting the grasses. 
  • Do not use these products on warm season grasses such as kikuyu or couchgrass. For these species either Atrazine or Banvine (2,4-D & Dicamba) should be used at the recommended label rates. 
  • Still keep a watch out for any signs of the fungal disease red thread which is often prevalent at this time of the year. If observed then immediately apply a nitrogen rich standard release fertiliser such as Turf Supreme, keep mower blades sharp and restrict traffic on the lawn which will help to prevent its' spread.
  • I recommend treating lawns for the control of Black Beetle larvae towards the end of October.  The larvae live within the top 25mm of the soil and chew the roots of desirable plants such as turf grasses. The result is that these plants tend to die when exposed to hot dry conditions in summer because they have a severely depleted root mass and as such they are not able to uptake sufficient moisture to meet plant requirements. Unfortunately the introduction of new regulation means that Pyriphos is only able to be sold to persons that possess an "Approved Handlers" certificate.  However, Finelawn can arrange this treatment for you. Remember that to be effective a minimum of 25mm of moisture needs to be applied within 7 days of application.  
Species Watch
Kentucky Bluegrass - Poa pratensis L.
Kentucky Bluegrass is a stiff erect, dark bluish green coloured perennial that forms a dense mat. The leaves are strap like and as such are relatively coarse, flat and hairless. It is a rhizomous plant that produces a dense sward as well as a dense root mat. 
 
The name is somewhat misleading as it originally came from Europe and was most likely brought to America by immigrants sometime after 1600. It actually derives its name from its seed-heads which turn a blue colouration if allowed to reach maturity. Legend has it that the Native Americans called it “white man’s track” because they found it wherever the white men had been. Kentucky is now known as the “Bluegrass State” because of the predominance of this species in their pastures. It is still the most popular lawn species in the north and eastern USA where it is commonly known as Meadow grass. It prefers hot dry summers and cool dry winters and as a result of its ability to go into dormancy when confronted with very cold temperatures. Therefore, it is well adapted to the climate of continental America.
 
This species has been the focus of American plant breeders since 1945 and many new and improved varieties have been released to the market since that time.  Generally, the concentration of this effort has been on improved colour and improved disease resistance. 
 
It has never been a particularly popular species in NZ possibly because of a tendency to be prone to fungal disease in our humid and general moist conditions.  Common diseases of bluegrass includes leaf spot, crown rot and rust disease.  However, it can grow very well in the drier areas of the South Island and the eastern regions of the North Island. It is well adapted for use in many parts of south eastern Australia where it has long been a popular lawn species. It is suited to the more arid climate as it doesn’t suffer from the same array of fungal diseases that are common with this species in NZ.  It does not like shading in cool regions but will tolerate shading in warmer climates. In cool, humid conditions it has a tendency to develop powdery mildew and in autumn it has traditionally suffered from problems with rust.      
It requires regular water applications and is quite nitrogen hungry. If left long periods without the addition of a nitrogenous fertiliser then these plants can appear quite yellow particularly on the leaf tips. These lawns perform best when mown at a relatively high level (60mm – 100mm). They do not persist when continually mown at lower cutting heights and as a result are no longer prevalent as a golf fairway species.  
 
Significantly, in more recent times plant breeders have developed cultivars that are far more resistant to diseases. Kentucky Bluegrass has a very strong fibrous root zone making it quite drought tolerant and less susceptible to chewing and biting insects than many other temperate grasses. On that basis, Finelawn is currently trialling several new cultivars to determine their future capability for use in sod or turf production

 
  • Establishment - Seed or Turf
  • Sowing Rate - 30gms - 40gms/m²
  • Mowing height - 60mm - 100mm
Fertilisers & Myths
Soil science is a well researched, well known and a well described science.  The science shows that there are 16 essential elements for plant growth other than hydrogen, oxygen and carbon. The main drivers of plant growth and plant health are well described as being the macronutrients of nitrogen (N), phosphate (P), potassium (K) and sulphur (S).  These are denoted as numbers on most bags of fertilisers as their N,P,K & S ratings.  These figures show the percentage of each of these elements in that brand of fertilizer. So as an example the high analysis fertiliser diamonium phosphate (DAP) is listed as containing 18 - 20 - 0 - 2. (note that it contains no potassium ) and the nitrogen fertilizer Urea is listed as being 46 - 0 - 0 - 0 as it only contains nitrogen  Additionally, there are other trace minerals such as manganese and iron that are required but these are provided by the soil in most places in New Zealand. 
 
I read an interesting article recently by my old mate Dr. Ants Roberts who is currently the Chief Scientific Officer for Ravensdown Fertilisers and who amongst other attributes was formerly a soil scientist for Ag Research and lecturer in soil science at Massey University.  He's commonly referred to in the industry as "Doctor Dirt".  In the article he focuses on the bombardment of claims made by fringe fertiliser companies that are commonly today harping on about soil biology, soil conditioners and growth hormones.  If these claims are to be believed they are miracle cures that prevent everything from turf diseases, to drought and even syphilis! ..... OK...... maybe not the last one but you see my point!  Most of these products contain little in the way of macronutrients but many contain nitrogen and plant hormones such as gibberellic acid.  The response one sees when using these products are generally the manifestation of these ingredients rather than some miracle biological discovery.  So, when it comes to fertilising your lawn stick to the basics and don't waste your precious time and money taking a punt with some of these new fangled unproven products.
 
 
Whilst on the subject of lawn fertilisers one further issue worth emphasising is the form in which the fertiliser is applied.  Typically, fertilisers can be broken in to two broad categories being "standard release" and "slow release" fertilisers.  The nutrients in standard release fertilisers tend to be highly soluble and they rapidly enter the soil water where they are absorbed by plant roots.  These nutrients are then stored in the leaves and this is why they lead to rapid growth.  This is ideal if you are farming but certainly not so ideal if you are fertilising a lawn because it means you have to mow the lawn more frequently and obviously those expensive nutrients are removed from the soil and deposited in the compost bin as lawn clippings.  Whereas slow release fertilisers are less soluble and therefore they provide ongoing nutrition for the plants for an extended period of time.  This also means that they do not lead to a flush of growth and a requirement for more regular mowing.       
  
DID YOU KNOW
 
Recently released research in both the US and the UK have proven that increasing the areas of lawns in cities reduces summertime temperatures and increases the amount of oxygen therefore increasing the public health status of cities!
  
Specific functional benefits include: excellent soil erosion control and dust stabilization thereby protecting a vital soil resource; improved recharge and quality protection of groundwater, plus flood control; enhanced entrapment and biodegradation of synthetic organic compounds; soil improvement that includes CO2 conversion; accelerated restoration of disturbed soils; substantial urban heat dissipation-temperature moderation; reduced noise, glare, and visual pollution problems; decreased noxious pests and allergy-related pollens; safety in vehicle operation on roadsides and engine longevity on airfields; lowered fire hazard via open, green turfed firebreaks; . (Doctor James B. Beard)
 
 
So, look after the health of your lawns folks and in return they'll look after your health! 
 
Turf Supply
You can keep up to date on the supply of our various turf products via our newly upgraded website. We update any supply issues on the 'price guide page' - Go to www.finelawn.co.nz 

Tall Fescue - is available now 
Fine Fescue - is available now
Ryegrass - is getting close, but not quite ready yet    
Common kikuyu and Regal kikuyu - are still in dormancy and we do not anticipate having any available until the new season which normally commences in the first week of December.
Couchgrass and Seashore Paspalum - are also now in dormancy and we expect these two products to be available again towards the end of October
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We have just taken over an additional parcel of land totaling 60 acres which is now being planted in turf. The majority of this has been planted in Tall Fescue turf. This represents a significant investment for Finelawn. We are confident that this additional land will increase the amount of turf we have available for sale and prevent any further future supply lapses which have affected our clients over the past 18 months. Additionally, we expect this to be able to allow us  keep the turf in the ground longer which will make it older at the point of harvest which will considerably increase the quality and robustness of the sward once harvested.  This should prevent losses during transportation and laying as the root density will be higher. Turf takes a significant period of time to develop but we expect the first product from this new property to be available in the autumn of 2016.
The soil type on this land is the Bruntwood complex of the Horatui Sandy Loam so it will appear the same as the products we currently produce.             
www.finelawn.co.nz
 
The recently upgraded Finelawn website has now been operational for several months and we have received a lot of very positive feedback regarding the extra included scientific material.  We have added a lot more information to the categories listed under weeds, diseases, lawn species and insects. Additionally, we are continually adding more information.  So if you have issues with your lawn, I urge you to check out this solutions based website as it contains a great deal of information on how to both troubleshoot and rectify issues that are commonly encountered.    
However, if you have more specific issues or require further clarification please feel free to either contact the office directly on our Freephone number 0800 finelawn or alternatively send an e-mail to info@finelawn.co.nz.
Don't forget to check out our Facebook page for more photos and updates!
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