Seven steps for great pre-grown grass

Turf rolls

Once established, pre-grown warm season grass can withstand remarkable punishment, but without some basic before-and-after care, it is likely to perish.

It is important to note that you can only obtain two 28-day warm season grass establishment exemptions per property to allow for installation in both front and back yards. You will not be permitted to water in a second attempt, should your grass fail.

Step 1: Match the right grass to your soil and level of sun (6 weeks prior)

Different types of warm season grass perform better in different conditions.

There are varieties of grass to suit full sun, partial shade and shade – and like all plants, put it in the wrong location and it will under-perform and possibly die.

Check the table below to help you make the best choice.

  Water Efficiency Drought Tolerance Heat Tolerance Shade Tolerance Colour Retention Wear Tolerance Fertiliser Efficiency Salt Tolerance Frost Tolerance
Couch High Excellent High Low Medium Excellent Excellent High Low
Kikuyu Excellent Excellent Excellent Medium Medium Excellent Medium Medium Low
Buffalo High Excellent High Excellent High Medium Medium Medium Medium

Step 2: Remove / kill off any existing (non warm season) grass (4-6 weeks prior)

Your new grass will have little chance of success if it’s competing against any existing lawn or weeds. Seek advice from the grass installer/provider, or your local nursery about the best non-residual herbicide to use.

Step 3: Preparing your soil – Saving you time and money (2-4 weeks prior)

Preparing the soil before planting is absolutely essential. Ensure the following steps are undertaken before the grass is installed:

  • Remove any debris, rocks or weeds, level and then lightly roll the surface – if footprints are visible at a depth greater than 1/2 cm, the surface needs additional rolling
  • pH levels are vital – a sandy loam soil, with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 is ideal. Dig through gypsum to improve clay based soils
  • Mix in a slow release starter fertiliser
  • Apply a granular wetting agent.

Step 4: Installation – (your 28-day exemption starts now)

Your grass must be laid on moist soil. It’s important that pre-grown grass be watered soon after it is laid, and it needs to be kept moist (not wet) to a depth of 30-50 mm for the first few days.

Maintaining your warm season grass

Be warned that saturated (wet) soil can stop your grass from knitting to the underlying soil – which can result in failure.

We strongly recommend that you test the soil at least daily with your finger to help ensure optimum moisture levels for your new grass. The soil underneath your grass needs to be kept moist at all times. Do not under any circumstances, be tempted to lift the turf to check – push through the grass and feel the moisture levels with your finger.

Moist soil will result in some dirt sticking to your finger. If your finger is wet or muddy, then the soil is too wet.

Step 5: Root initiation and development – (Week 1)

Depending on the temperature, humidity and wind, your grass may need to be watered up to three times a day. Cooler temperatures or rain will generally mean less watering is required.

We expect this watering to take 10-15 minutes each time, depending on the size of the area and the method of watering used.

6: Root system establishment – (Week 2)

Water every second day to keep the grass moist, if it’s hot and dry, you may need to water every day. Use a moisture sensor to remove any guesswork.

Step 7: Maintenance – (Weeks 3-4)

Reduce watering to twice a week by the end of the fourth week. Water additionally if hot or dry days occur during this time.

Post exemption period: Week 5 and beyond

Warm season grasses are likely to withstand, and remain largely green, throughout harsh Melbourne summers without additional watering once fully established. If you feel your new grass needs additional water, you may use tap water to water your lawn in accordance with the prevailing water restrictions or Permanent Water Use Rules. You can also use tank, recycled or grey water at any time.

While warm season grasses are known for their salt tolerance, we recommend that you use a low sodium, grey water safe washing detergent, if you choose to exclusively water your new grass with grey water.