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The Grass is Greener

“You don’t realise how fortunate you are in Australia.” Suda Sudarsana, international P & G scientist, began the story. I met Suda when I was in Thailand recently and his down-to-earth approach resonated with me.

Suda continued the story; it went something like this: You have space in Australia, and the kids get to run around on the grass. In Japan, this is almost unheard of.  When I suggested the baseball team I coach practice on a wet field in bare feet, there was an uproar by parents!  I believe walking barefoot on grass, is really important for kids.  Australian children have this opportunity.

buffalo grass

Australian kids are fortunate. Australians are fortunate.   According to industry research, 84% of us have a lawn.  Now that’s summer, and we are spending more time outside, I thought it would be interesting to put together a post with tips on how to both care for, and make the most of the lawn.

To help me do this, I had a wonderful chat with Tony from Caboolture Turf, about outdoor living, caring for the lawn and how to manage tricky spots.  Tony is obviously passionate about grass, and boy does he know it well.  First things first: below is a picture of the best part of my lawn. The (very) bad parts come later.

{buffalo grass}

running on the grass

What are the basics for lawn maintenance?

  • Fertilise every 3-4 months
  • Water within your local council guidelines (this is plenty to maintain a healthy lawn)
  • Mow low and tight. This encourages the grass to grow sideways, and there will be less room for weeds and prickles.

Is it okay to leave the clippings in the grass?

Absolutely.  Clippings are good for the grass, the only issue is if the grass is long when cut, the kids will walk the clippings through the entire house for weeks to come.  If you mow regularly, it’s a great idea to leave the clippings once in a while.

What about lawns with mixed grass (like mine)

Mixed grass is common in Australian yards.  It’s not a problem if you don’t mind the grass not matching perfectly. What you’ll find is the grass best suited to the area, will be dominant.  This is why it’s important to get advice on what sort of grass is best for your area. A perfect example is this (pictured) section of your yard.   This area gets almost no sun so you have all sorts of things growing here. Couch was originally planted here, and failed as the garden matured. Carpet grass has started to grow instead, but ultimately this area need to be poisoned, removed, some lime added (to solve the moss problem) and then re turfed using a shade tolerant variety like buffalo (Sir Walter).

{incorrect grass for the area}

problem areas turf -- deciding on the right turf for your area -- moss, carpet grass, clover

How do you know what grass is best for your lawn?

This section (pictured below) of your yard is a good example of how the right grass performs well in the right area.  This buffalo grass, close the the house, works perfectly, but there is a distinct line where the buffalo stops and couch starts.

{buffalo grass is wonderful in shady areas}

choosing the right type of grass for your lawn

This is a true example of where the newer variety of buffalo is a better choice (than the original couch).  Quality advice from a Turf farmer, can save a lot of money (and hassles) in the long run. For more information about how to choose the right type of your grass for your lawn, visit this post: Choosing the Right Turf for your Lawn.

“The best way to enjoy your outdoor spaces as a family is just to do it. Unplug and make it happen.”

What is the best way to maximise the yard for family life?

Living outdoors: it’s the Australian way.  The idea is to get out and make it happen. There are endless ways to incorporate the yard into family life; below are some tips:

1. Divide: I’m big on dividing the outdoors into sections. This can be done through landscaping, grass sections, stepping stones, a BBQ or a bench seat placed in a nice shady spot.

2. Play: Put in some cricket wickets, invest in a totem tennis equipment, play soccer, put large buckets out on the lawn for water play, bring inside toys out on a large mat on the grass, put up a cheap tent and let the kids play (they might even sleep out there!).

3. Eat: Many modern homes have the kitchen, living and outdoor areas married into one. There is nothing wrong with this concept but it can be a good idea to remove yourself from the house and actually step away. So, for example, if you have BBQ out in the yard, it’s like having a little holiday.

creating outdoor spaces -- a bench seat

The best way to enjoy your outdoor spaces as a family is just to do it. Unplug and make it happen.

What about trampolines and play equipment on grass?

The key to maintaining grass underneath play equipment is to move it around every week. In your case Kelly, the grass is pretty much dead so you probably will need to replace this section with the correct grass: Sir Walter Buffalo Grass in this case, which is suited for shady areas like this one.

Dead grass under the trampoline (oops!)

what to do with dead grass under play equipment/trampoline

What about trouble spots and thinning grass?

This problem is very easily fixed. Follow these two steps:

  • Top dress these areas (using sand), lightly twice over a month.
  • Mow often, low and tight, to encourage the grass to grow sideways.

{Top dress bare spots with sand}

problem spots in grass

I love grass, and living outdoors as much as possible so thank you Tony for such wonderful tips!

 Love freedom  .  Love grass  .  Love Aussie culture  .  Love life

running on the grass

Lawn problems?

Do you have a question for Tony? Do you want him to have a look at a picture of your lawn? You can leave a question for Tony in the comments below, or even better still, upload a picture of your trouble spots on the Be A Fun Mum facebook page, and Tony will come by and leave feedback for you.  You can join Tony’s facebook page for great tips on keeping your lawn healthy: Caboolture Turf

Giveaway

**The Giveaway how now ended and the winner has been notified**

I’m offering a $150 Bunnings voucher on the blog today to celebrate grass! To enter this giveaway, all you need to do is leave a comment below about what you love most about grass.  Feel free to ask any questions below about turf, or your lawn and  Tony is happy to answer them for you.

Terms:

1. Australian residents only.  2. Giveaway will be selected randomly.  3. Winner will be notified by email. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, the prize will be redrawn.  4. Giveaway open from Friday 16th December to 21 December 2011.

Other Relevant Links

8 Awesome Things About Turf

Choosing the right turf for your lawn

Be A Fun Mum Outdoor Play Posts

Make a magical play space

Favourite Outdoor Play Spaces

Rock Play Garden

Playing with your kids: a confession

Chasing dragonflies & butterflies

Make a flower head wreath

Nature Hunt

Op Shop Cubby

The Best Family Adventure: Geocaching

It’s the Fun You Have Along the Way

Backyard Games

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123 Comments

  • Reply
    Katie
    December 16, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I love that grass gives you opportunities. Opportunities to live life outside. We live in the country on a big block and we have such beautiful green grass for my kids to run on, to play on, to lie on and yes, to squish their cute pink toes in!

  • Reply
    Kirsty
    December 16, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks for the great tips about grass. Are there any types that are better for allergies? I love playing on the grass with my 15 mo son and beagle – they both love kicking and chasing the balls around.:)

    • Reply
      Tony
      December 19, 2011 at 9:30 am

      Hi Kirsty,

      This is a common question and while I have not seen any great proof, I can go on personal experience. I had a couch lawn at home and while we don’t have any allergies as such, it did make you itchy etc. I replaced it with Sir Walter and found that this variety does not make the kids itchy, they love it. This is probably common to buffalo’s in general just don’t ask me why.

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    December 16, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    We love grass …. However when we purchased our house the people before us didn’t love grass all that much as it has died off in some areas and left bug patches of clay. I have two children an eight year old, who plays rough and tumble football with dad on the grass but they have to be mindful that they don’t land on the clay patches. I am also a family day care provider and we try and make the most of being outside in the warmer months. With lots of little feet running around we would love the yard to have nice soft grass. We would love to win your gift vcher fir bunnings to help us give the grass a boost xoxoxo

  • Reply
    Melody Henderson
    December 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I love the little treasures it holds… ladybirds, garden spiders, interesting beetles… perfect for investigating, learning and exploring!

  • Reply
    Lily
    December 16, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Grass is the best when you have little kids…there is nothing quite like seeing two little girls running and squealing and chasing each other around a big backyard every afternoon in summer!

  • Reply
    Gemma
    December 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I love how healthy grass feels under your feet! Having a beautiful lawn makes me so happy and enhances our home.

    Q for Tony:
    I have troublesome nut grass that I can’t get rid of. Any tips?

    • Reply
      Tony
      December 19, 2011 at 9:42 am

      Gemma,

      Ahhhhhh Nut Grass. It seems to sprout after the rain and come up everywhere!

      On the farm we use Sempra, one of the most expensive poisons you can buy. In shops it is called Nut Buster, I am sure the major places stock it.

      Otherwise, paint the leaves with Round Up or similar product but don’t get it on the grass as it kills everything!

  • Reply
    Melissa sweeney
    December 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    What I love about grass? Watching my dog hide in it when my husband doesn’t mow 🙂

  • Reply
    Melissa
    December 16, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    We love grass! Unfortunately we live in a townhouse with only a little yard – so we make the most out of what we have 🙂

  • Reply
    rebecca wilde
    December 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Seriously the smell of freshly mown lawn takes me back to my childhood without fail…love that smell…and know having kids love the fact is absorbs and hides any food and drink spills…absorbs the sounds of many running feet and is a good place to ‘just be with you kids’…also love how on hot days it has a lovely cooling effect when you lay on it in the shade with a good book.

  • Reply
    Monica
    December 16, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    we are in desperate need of replacing our grass. the dogs have ruined the backyard and what was a beautiful lawn is now …. well….. dirt with some grass. we were thinking of putting in those ground saving plastic crate things (i think you can get them from bunnings?) and then putting turf over the top.. any hints Tony? we have staffy’s 🙂 also we need to replace the turf out the front/ corner block = lots of moving and Kikuyu isn’t great stuff for a low maintenance yard.. again any hints Tony? Love your blog BTW Kelly so informative. 🙂

    • Reply
      Tony
      December 19, 2011 at 9:55 am

      Monica,

      I have used this system before for cars, it works well. I have never seen it for back yards but I guess it would work.

      Kikuyu, I am interested to know your location before I can give some more advice, please email me at tony@cabooltureturf.com.au and I will go from there.

  • Reply
    Lolita
    December 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Looove walking barefoot on damp grass… So refreshing 🙂
    @tony… Have biting ants that just keep moving when we use antkill 🙁 any tips?

    • Reply
      Tony
      December 19, 2011 at 10:08 am

      I have more ants in my yard than the rest of my street, they drive me crazy. I have tried all sorts of things, and yes, they still keep coming up in different places. The trick is to get them to take the poison back to the nest, like they do for fire ants. I am not sure of a product that does this sorry but will do some more looking around.

  • Reply
    Subi
    December 16, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    I love grass because even though I don’t have kids, it SO much fun watching my partner have his friends around at his parents home for a great game of backyard cricket while the gals gossip on the balcony. It means family to me, true blue, good value, Aussie family time.

  • Reply
    Kristy
    December 16, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I love the smell of freshly cut grass. When I lived in Manhattan, surrounded by concrete, I missed it terribly: the smell of summer at home.

  • Reply
    Cate
    December 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    I love that you can have water or messy play on grass, without the fear of anyone slipping etc. At the moment I’m also loving feeding my 9 month old outside and having the birds eat what he drops- saves me cleaning inside!

  • Reply
    Helen
    December 16, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    I love the fresh smell of newly cut grass!

  • Reply
    roweina taylor
    December 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I have a bad habit of rolling on peoples beautiful lawns 🙂 I cant help it! Its so inviting! And i love walking over the lawn in barefeet after it has been watered (bit squelchy!) and finding ladybugs and other critters with my 7 yr old 🙂

  • Reply
    Cheryl
    December 16, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I love that grass feels cool on hot days

  • Reply
    Jenny
    December 16, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Simply the feel of it under bare feet, especially if you have lush green grass (which I don’t so much)

  • Reply
    bek
    December 16, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    i’d love to have grass!!! soft and cool on a hot day!!! unfortunately, we only have WEEDS!!!

  • Reply
    Shar
    December 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    The smell of freshly mown grass is definitely a favourite for me 😀

  • Reply
    Michelle Clague
    December 16, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    What I love most about grass is how excited my kids (4 & 2 years) get when they are allowed down to go play on it. { we have more weeds than grass at the moment}.

  • Reply
    Alissa
    December 16, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    I live the smell of fresh cut grass – particularly after a rain shower. Mmmmm….

  • Reply
    Bernadette Cutmore
    December 16, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I run Family Day Care from my home and my kiddies love to be outside on the grass. There is so much we can do on the grass. We have water tables set up out there right next to the sandpit, makes for a wonderful outdoor kitchen.

  • Reply
    CraftyMummy
    December 16, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    What I most love about our lawn is that my lovely hubby looks after it and I don’t have to! The least I can do for him is win a Bunnings voucher, don’t you think?

  • Reply
    Chont
    December 16, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I love the feel of soft grass and looks delightful too. I want to what is the best way to get rid of bindi patches and weeds without poisoning kids or pets.

  • Reply
    Christie
    December 16, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    We have so much grass and we certainly do feel blessed for it! I love Kirsty’s question about allergies, I’d like to know too (though I probably wont be running around pulling out our 2 acres of grass if we have the wrong type!).
    I love being able to walk around barefoot on the grass, have picnics or kick a ball on it. Grass rocks!

  • Reply
    Bernie
    December 16, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Grass appeals to all my senses…I love the smell of freshly cut grass it just makes you want to live outdoors! I love the bright colour of grass after it rains! I love the feel of it under my feet (minus the prickles)! I love sound of kids playing outdoors (cause they’re not under my feet)…oh, ok, I guess I don’t actually like the taste of grass…4 out of 5 ain’t bad 😉

  • Reply
    Becky from BeckyandJames.com
    December 16, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    I love the feel. My husband is all about the kids wearing shoes outside but I believe they should run around without them, to feel the lush softness at mid day or the crunch on a cold winter’s morning. It’s all about texture. I also really love the smell of grass just after it’s rained, the freshness is wonderful.

  • Reply
    Kylee
    December 16, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Canberra, where I live, can be a harsh climate. It can be quite difficult to grow thick green grass here, especially over winter. I love going on holiday up North, even as close as Sydney and will take off my shoes and run my toes through the grass. There really isn’t anything that compares.

  • Reply
    Julia
    December 16, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    This has been forwarded directly to my hubby he needs all the help he can get 🙂

  • Reply
    Lisa
    December 16, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Oooohh it took us FOREVER to level and prepare and turf our back yard but now that it is done, it is awesome. Couch. Soft underfoot, unphased by the leaves from the gum tree. Yay for grass 🙂

  • Reply
    sharron peacock
    December 16, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    I love Grass because it brings back so many chidlhood memories!!!!

  • Reply
    Kathy Gennari
    December 16, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    To be honest, the best thing about grass is that it makes the best blanket to lie on whilst watching clouds!

  • Reply
    jenn
    December 16, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Sunshower-on-freshly-mown-lawn-smell. How can I bottle it?

  • Reply
    Jo
    December 17, 2011 at 6:15 am

    We are about to try growing grass in our otherwise paved garden so that my little boy can crawl around on something soft for his chubby little knees!!

  • Reply
    miss.cinders
    December 17, 2011 at 9:55 am

    AWESOME POST!

    Husband and I were just out admiring the jungle that is our lawn at the moment. The grass here grows fast after the rain, so the whipper snipper has to come out before the mower on most of it. Never in our nearly 20 years together have we lived somewhere that the grass grows so quick!

    I have to agree with how lucky we are. Yesterday I was out in the home paddock with no shoes on, having Husband rouse at me because it’s snake season. But I love feeling the fresh grass under my feet, and enjoyed it while I could. Honestly if it wasn’t for snakes being so frequent here the kids would be outside shoeless whenever they wanted as well!

  • Reply
    sewsurprising
    December 17, 2011 at 11:33 am

    I love the smell of a freshly cut lawn, something so Summer and holidays about the fragrance.

  • Reply
    Mademoiselle Slimalicious
    December 17, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    I love the smell of grass after it’s just been cut.

  • Reply
    kerry santillo
    December 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I use to love grass until we were not allowed to water. Unfortunately it died and now we have artificial lawn. I think this might be the sign of the times.

  • Reply
    Natalie
    December 17, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Good grass makes a great backyard awesome!! It is so versatile… l mean what else can you sit on, lie on, roll on, play on or picnic on!!

  • Reply
    Michelle P
    December 17, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Our humble backyard is all about lifestyle. We have two growing boys who love nothing better than to walk around on the lawn without shoes!

  • Reply
    Leila
    December 18, 2011 at 12:20 am

    I love the feel of grass under my toes, i love the smell of fresh cut grass, the smell of rain soaked grass. I love watching, and joining in, the kids playing on the grass yards at our home.

  • Reply
    Jodie
    December 18, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Honestly I just love walking barefoot on freshly mown grass and being able to lie down on it if I want to and watch the clouds.

  • Reply
    Donna Maree Germon
    December 18, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    I love the smell of freshly cut grass. I love that grass is so forgiving and keeps coming back even when we have neglected it and it looks like it has reached the end. I love that we can walk on it, play on it and generally enjoy ourselves on it. Grass is a natural wonder!

  • Reply
    Jacqui
    December 18, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    I love the softness, the smell – especially after the rain! Takes me back to many fond childhood memories playing in the grass.

  • Reply
    Cheryl
    December 19, 2011 at 12:26 am

    I love that grass is easy to care for. I always leave the clippings on the lawn so it’s dead easy to mow without having to empty the catcher all the time.

  • Reply
    katie
    December 19, 2011 at 12:47 am

    we have a good sized backyard with lots of grass… we love kicking the ball on the grass, rolling down our grassy hill, smelling the grass after it has been mown, squelching on it after the rain, and lying down on it to pick out shapes in the clouds… and whilst we are being honest, mr almost-3 loves weeing on it (overshare!! boys, ugh!!) and miss 8-months loves eating it (!!!).

  • Reply
    Theressa Membrey
    December 19, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Love the note on the grass under the trampoline. Oops from me too! With our kids exposed to so much technology i also love getting them outdoors on the grass,whether it be at home in the backyard, or at the local park. Prickle free lawn is supreme!

  • Reply
    Natalie
    December 19, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I love how grass makes you feel free 🙂 Put me barefoot on the grass and I want to run and play like a kid again!

  • Reply
    Marcia
    December 19, 2011 at 9:44 am

    I adore how our lawn brings our family together. My husband hates weed in his lawn, so he crawls around pulling them out. Our kids sit with him chatting and giggling the whole time. I love it!

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