January Hints

Watering lawns

For most of us, it’s the cheapest and most beneficial thing you can do to our lawn. However, watering is the most misunderstood factor in a lawn maintenance routine. The goal of irrigating your lawn is very simple: to replace the moisture that is being lost due to evaporation. Any more or any less will cause the lawn to suffer in times of stress. Generally, given our weather patterns, it is not necessary to irrigate the lawn on a regular basis until October or November.

How much?

The technique of determining how much to water your lawn is simple: Place a small rain gauge or jam tin on the lawn when your sprinkler is running and see how many minutes it takes to fill the gauge to a level of 25mm. Then, over a period of days, see how long it takes for the 25mm of water to evaporate out of the gauge. This will tell you when and how much to water. You may be surprised!


The time of day makes a difference. One basic rule: water your lawn when the least amount of water will be lost to evaporation. Watering early in the morning before the heat of the day will make sure your water goes down to the roots instead of going up in vapour. Avoid watering during the middle of the day when the heat is highest. Never water late in the afternoon or before midnight as warm evening temperatures will promote turf diseases such as mildew

How often?

Be sure to follow the “25 millimetre” guide described above. Frequent, but shallow, watering causes the grass to send roots up to the surface looking for water, where they will suffer more during hot spells. Water longer in each spot. Also be sure to water more along paths and kerbs. These areas dry out faster due to more heat build up.

A word to automatic sprinkler owners

Become familiar with how your system operates! It is very important to “calibrate” your system so that your lawn is being watered correctly for each zone. Do not set the sprinkler system so that all zones are running the same length of time. This will surely be incorrect and will waste water and promote plant diseases. We also recommend not watering your lawn every day on an automatic system.

During late spring and early summer, you may notice a fungussy-looking growth that gives a kikuyu lawn a frosted, white web-like appearance, especially noticeable in the morning when there is still dew on the ground.  What you are looking at is the flower of kikuyu grass, Pennisetum clandestinium, from whence it’s botanical name after the Latin for “clandestine”, alluding to the flower hidden within the leaf-sheath.

Deadheading, or removing the finished flowers, from roses is a good way to keep them re-blooming. Don’t leave the old flower-heads to turn into rose hips. Remove those, and any faded flowers

If there is a bud on the end waiting to bloom, leave this branch intact until it is done. At that time, cut it back to a strong new shoot which will produce new buds. Then when this branch has finished it can be cut back even further into the bush and an entirely new branch will shoot out to give more flowers into autumn.

If gummosis is a problem in apricots and other stone fruit, avoid winter pruning. Pruning in summer, just after fruiting, or early autumn (before autumn rains) provides less opportunity for bacteria to enter wounds. Summer pruning is also advantageous to limit the size of the tree where the fruit is too high to pick because growth is not stimulated as much.

Portulaca, that insidious weed that most householders swear that the seed must come out of the tap water is germinating vigorously. As to coming out of the tap, the true reason is that the minute seed of Portulaca are long-lasting in the soil, and seed from previous seasons is germinating. Glyphosate and a quality surfactant (wetting agent) provide effective control.