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Tips from the Turf Expert KJ

Karl Johnson (KJ) is no stranger to growing the ultimate lawn - most recently as the Turf Manager of Hamilton’s Seddon Park and FMG Stadium Waikato. The Turf Master-Craftsman has been in the business over 30 years. A snapshot of career highlights include: building and maintaining cricket and rugby pitches in Dubai, completing cricket grounds in India, consulting in many other countries, and more recently working for the All Blacks in Samoa on the ground for their inaugural Test match against Manu Samoa.

We caught up with him to get his expert opinion on creating a match-ready lawn!

Hey, I’m hearing you may be after a few tips of looking after your lawn! I won’t let you near my lawn as it’s like a mechanic’s car, a builder’s house, at the moment… However, with over 30 years’ experience in the turf industry here’s a few things that may help you out:

How low should you mow

Never, ever cut more than a third of the leaf of at any one time – i.e. if the leaf is 50mm long don’t mow it to 10mm! Nice sharp blades will always cut better and mean less shredding of the leaf - would you cut your hair with blunt scissors?

Feed your hungry lawn

Use a good quality turf specific fertiliser such as Tui LawnForce to ensure your turf gets a balance of N-P-K. I would advise always washing in as soon after application as possible, to minimise any turf burn. The best time to fertilise is when it’s raining.

The best watering technique

I believe watering early in the morning is the best time. Watering during the heat of the day means you lose water through evaporation, plus the wind effects the sprinkler throw. Watering at 6pm means the turf plant sits wet during the night - which is an invitation to turf diseases. I like to teach the plant roots to chase moisture: deep watering and then drying out your turf before its next irrigation application is a great way to achieve this.

When dry conditions strike

Applying a good quality wetting agent to assist the turf profile to take water is certainly a great wee trick to prevent lawns getting extremely dry. Once the ground has become anaerobic (very dry) it is extremely difficult to get water into these areas. Hand fork them over and hand water isolated dry areas.

Dealing to patchy lawns

The best time of the year to sow any seed is March and April. I see so many people trying in summer and watch them struggle! Give your new seed the best chance by sowing in autumn.

Remember turf is a living thing: it needs air, water and food just like you and I. So ensure your turf gets, air, water and fertiliser.

Enjoy growing great quality turf, as it’s a real challenge but also very enjoyable!


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