- Environmental Advantages
- Natural vs Synthetic Turf
- Watering Information
- Turf Research & Development
- Handy Tips
- BI-AGRA and Aquaforce
Turf grasses play a critical role in the general health and welfare of our nation and as a result of increasing urbanisation and deforestation; they are becoming more and more important for human health. Turf is not only a major source of beauty and comfort in our lives but also a cleansing answer to our environment.
The benefits of turf grass can be summarised as follows:
- Low cost surfaces
- Physical health
- Mental health
- Safety cushion
- Spectator entertainmen
- Playing fields/sport
- Soil erosion control
- Dust prevention
- Rain water entrapment
- Ground water recharge
- Solar heat dissipation
- Glare reduction
- Chemical/pollutant filtering
- Air pollution control
- Fire prevention
Parliament House in Canberra was purposefully designed with turf on the roof for three reasons. Firstly, for people to stand above parliament rather than parliament above the people. Secondly, to help reduce noise. But most importantly, because of its insulating qualities. The turf helps keep Parliament House cooler. When measures were taken on a 330C day, the surface temperature of the adjacent granite paving was 520C and the turf surface was 280C. Temperatures underneath the turfed roof slab were a stable 230C. Imagine the energy bill savings!
Natural vs Synthetic Turf
The frightening effects of artificial turf on both humans and the environment are already being corrected by natural grass on a daily basis. Athletes and coaches, professionals and amateurs, fans and homeowners all prefer the joy that natural grass brings into their lives. The cost(s) of installing and maintaining a natural grass field provides a far better short- and long-term value than the costs of artificial turf, especially when considering wear and lifespan. Synthetic turf simply doesn't offer the same benefits as natural turf. Synthetic turf can't deal with the elements of the environment and the conditions its subjected to. Small objects and materials must be meticulously removed; liquids or other residues must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, otherwise they present a serious health hazard. Some common elements that synthetic turf is prone to consist of after many uses include:
- Food and beverages
- Metal particles
- Wooden splinters
- Animal droppings
These elements pose great risks to everyone, especially young kids. The particles used in synthetic turf can also be dangerous when exposure to excessive heat and wear. Replacing synthetic turf is highly expensive also and doesn't last as long as a hardy natural turf.Benefits of Natural Grass
Natural grass helps correct other environmental problems while contributing additional benefits.
The benefits of natural grass include:
- Oxygen generation
- Soil erosion control
- Dust stabilisation
- Water filtration/purification
- Rain water entrapment for groundwater replenishment
- Flood control/decrease runoff
- Air pollution control
- Enhanced entrapment and biodegradation of synthetic organic compounds
- Reduced Greenhouse gases
- Restoration of disturbed soils
- Urban heat dissipation/temperature reduction
- Noise abatement
- Glare reduction
- Reduced smog pollution
- Eliminates hiding places for ticks, snakes and other potentially noxious pests
- Decreased allergy-related pollens
- Fire prevention (grassed firebreaks)
Below is a video from a ABC news report on the possible dangers of synthetic fields:
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I stop weeds from growing in my turf?
The best way to stop weeds from growing in your turf is to keep your lawn as healthy as possible. This involves fertilising every 6-8 weeks during the growing season (spring and summer) and once or twice through the winter period. Correct watering is also essential to the good health of your turf. If weeds do appear, hand weeding while they are young is a simple method of removing them. If infestation of weeds is severe, then weed spray is the best way to control them.
How often should I water my lawn and when?
Ideally deep watering is the key to a healthy lawn. In WA scheme water users can water twice a week applying 10ml of water per watering. Watering should be deep enough to encourage deeper root growth which will result in the root base making good use of the moisture content in the subsoil. In winter in WA we have winter sprinkler ban. http://www.water.wa.gov.au/Managing+water/Domestic+garden+bores/Winter+sprinkler+ban/default.aspx#1
With current watering limitations you should refer to the following links for your watering days and other information. For scheme water users please refer to http://www.watercorporation.com.au/save-water/watering-days?cid=sem0201&s_kwcid=%2Bwater%20%2Bcorporation%20%2Bwatering%20%2Bdays&gclid=COCqjd_pmL0CFc7QpAodDlUA-A and for bore water users http://www.water.wa.gov.au/Managing+water/Domestic+garden+bores/Sprinkler+roster/default.aspx
How often should I top-dress my lawn?
Top dressing is unnecessary unless the ground is uneven and presents a mowing problem or safety risk. Using a good top quality dressing mix that is free of weeds and seeds is important as the added organics will benefit the lawn and you are not importing problems to you lawn. It is recommended that you fertilise prior to top dressing. Do not bury the leaves of the turf as it may not grow through the top dressing. Always level out the soil or sand.
What should I use to correctly fertilise my lawn and how?
The fertiliser utilised on your lawn will vary depending on the time of year. Please ask your local TGAWA member for advice regarding this when purchasing your turf. It is recommended that slow release fertilisers are used to build the organic levels and trace elements. By fertilising your lawn you are providing it with a range of nutrients for good health and growth. Apply a slow release fertiliser every two months during the warmer months and once during winter. It is important to note that when fertilising the recommended application rate is the maximum amount that should be applied. Always apply fertiliser to a dry lawn and water in well, as fertiliser applied to a wet lawn and not sufficiently washed in can result in leaf burn. http://www.fertilisewise.org.au/.
WATERWISE LAWN GUIDE
Over a period of three Perth summers research at the University of Western Australia proved that a healthy green lawn can be maintained by selecting from a range of warm season, deep rooted lawn grasses more suited to our hot summer environment.
Choice of Variety
COUCH, BUFFALO, ZOYSIA, QUEENSLAND BLUE, SALTENE and KIKUYU need low amounts of water when installed and maintained correctly, have excellent heat tolerance and high drought tolerance;
- RYEGRASS requires high water use, has poor heat tolerance and low drought tolerance; and,
- TALL FESCUE also requires high water use, has fair heat tolerance and an average drought tolerance.
- Water early in the morning as less heat and wind reduce loss of water to evaporation. A standard drink of 10mm is recommended and any more is wasted.
- Water in the early morning before 9am or evening after 6pm. This applies to both scheme water users and garden bore owners.
- Less wind and heat reduces the stress on the plant and allows for greater penetration and less run-off or evaporation.Water for deep penetration but not past the root zone. Interrupt watering if puddles occur and allow the water to penetrate the soil before restarting. Use some ice cream containers to measure how much water your sprinklers deliver. 10ml is a good soak for most lawns and any more will be wasted. Programme reticulation controllers to provide the correct quantity and timing of reticulation. Review adjustment during Summer. Do not just set and forget. Advice may be obtained from the Irrigation Association on 9474 9089.
- Aerate and verticut turf. Removal of thatch (spongy brown section of grass below the green leaf) by verticutting and aerating compacted lawns will assist in better penetration of water and nutrients. This should be done in Spring and advice is available from the Lawn Mowing Contractors Association on 9316 3508.
- Test your soil with a probe or screwdriver to see how deep the water has penetrated. If there are dry patches check your sprinkler output.
- Treat your lawn with a wetting agent to improve water penetration and eliminate dry patch. Your local TGAWA Member Turf Farm can guide you through the range of suitable products.
- Fertilise frequently but very lightly with a good environmentally friendly lawn floor or slow release lawn food. Your local garden centre can advice you on the products available. Too much fertiliser is wasteful and produces too lush a leaf whereas a frequent light application keeps the lawn healthy and improves its tolerance to limited water application.
- Keep mower blades sharp as dull blades damage the plant and increase moisture loss.
In summary it is possible for people to still maintain their lawns with proper responsible management of water.
(The Water Corporation grants an exemption from water restrictions for 8 weeks for new lawns and people need to call Water Corporation on 131039 to register for the exemption).
To find our more click here to visit the water corporation website
Important Turf Installation information
Under approved 35 day exemption from watering restrictions
1st April - 30th September
**Exemptions need to be applied for through the Water Corporation**
|1 - 14||4.0mm||2x Daily||Before 9am and at 2pm|
|15 - 28||7.5mm||1x Daily||Before 9am|
|29 - 35||7.5mm||Every second day||Before 9am|
*Use catch cups or a small container on your lawn to measure the amount of water you are applying. It is imperative that you apply amounts as per above table.*
Watering exemption for new lawns and gardens
If you are establishing a new lawn or garden, you may apply for a temporary exemption from the sprinkler roster that applies to your area. New lawn can refer to roll on lawn, runners, shredded lawn and/or seed. This exemption applies to scheme water supplied by the Water Corporation and for garden bores.
Between 1 October and 31 March, customers who apply for and are granted an exemption can use sprinklers to water a new lawn and/or garden three times per day for up to 42 days from the day of planting. A 35-day exemption applies for the remainder of the year (from 1 April to 30 September).
How to apply
The exemption must be applied for and granted prior to planting. Sprinklers cannot be used outside of the watering roster until an exemption is put in place.
To apply for an exemption please call the Water Corporation (13 10 39) on the day you need the exemption to start, and provide the required information detailed below. An exemption will be activated immediately for eligible customers and a letter confirming the conditions and end date of the exemption will be sent to you.
When applying for an exemption you need to tell us:
- the address of the property;
- your name, mobile, home telephone details and email address;
- if you are using a garden bore;
- the nature and location of the new planting (ie: front/back, garden/lawn);
- the date from which the exemption is requested to commence; and
- the name of the person responsible for watering the property.
If the householder is granted an exemption and found not to comply with the exemption conditions, an infringement notice can be issued. The penalty is a $500 fine, which may be modified to a $100 on-the-spot fine.
All exemptions cease after the approved exemption period from the date the exemption is requested to commence.
Regardless of who has installed the lawn, plants and irrigation system, the owner of the property is held responsible for any breach of the exemption conditions.
At the end of the exemption period, the settings on your irrigation controller must be amended in accordance with the sprinkler roster for your area.
More Watering Schedules
Turf Research & Development
Extensive research in USA has demonstrated that turf and lawn areas can:
- Reduce surface temperatures by up to 10 degrees C compared to bare soil and up to 30 degrees celsius compared with synthetic surfaces.
- The average front lawn of 8 houses has the same cooling effect as 20 domestic air-conditioners.
- Playing fields with a dense turf coverage are safer than paving or synthetic surfaces.
- A healthy lawn absorbs rainfall 6x more effectively than garden areas thus contributing to groundwater recharge.
- A turf are of 15m x 15m absorbs carbon dioxide, hydrogen fluoride and perosyacetyle nitrate and releases enough oxygen to meet the needs of a family of 4.
- Turf-grasses help purify water entering underground aquifers by its roots mass and soil microbes acting as a filter to capture and break down many pollutants.
There was limited research in Australia up until the UWA commenced ground breaking research into water use on turf. This research has attracted national and international interest and is a credit to W.A. and a testimony to the pioneering spirit of WA in leading the way in Australia.
For specific details of this research please visit the UWA website: http://www.plants.uwa.edu.au/research/turf
All suburbs have different soils so look for a fertiliser blend for your area.
Maintaining a healthy lawn
To keep your lawn in great condition it will require year round maintenance including watering, mowing, fertilising, top dressing, de-thatching and regularly applying a quality wetting agent and/or moisture retainer.
Many West Australian soils do not absorb water well. In fact they often become 'hydrophobic' meaning that they actually repel water. In grey sand areas, in addition to applying a soil wetting agent, such as Aquaforce, and the MRA Moisture Retaining Aid BIAGRA during the laying process, we highly recommend regular application at least three times a year of these or similar products; at the beginning of Spring, the beginning of Summer and again mid to late Summer, (with application rates as recommended by the manufacturer or your local TGAWA member turf grower)
Once your lawn is established you can only water once on your rostered watering day, being twice a week for potable or scheme water users and three times a week for bore users, (either before 9am or after 6pm). It is generally best to water early in the morning as it allows the water to soak to the roots and be available throughout the day when it needs it most. With current watering allowances it is imperative that quality wetting agents and MRA's are used to assist with keeping water supplied to the root zone of your turf
By fertilising your lawn you are providing it with a range of nutrients for good health and growth. Apply a slow release fertiliser every two months during the warmer months and once during winter. It is important to note that when fertilising the recommended application rate is the maximum amount that should be applied. Always apply fertiliser to a dry lawn and water in well, as fertiliser applied to a wet lawn and not sufficiently washed in can result in leaf burn.
Remember that if you apply fertiliser excessively, whatever your lawn doesn't use washes into and affects the health of our waterways.
Mowing your lawn will help to keep it healthy and looking good. During summer your lawn will require more frequent mows (ensuring the blades are sharp) every 7-21 days to the height 10 to 20 mm depending on the variety. (Please refer to recommended heights in the WA Turf Brochure below.)
1) Broadleaf - clover, bindii, flatweed usually start to appear at the onset of the cooler weather.
*treat late winter/early spring.
2) Cool Season Grasses - Winter Grass usually appears in May.
*treat before wintergrass appears.
3) Warm Season grasses - paspalum, crab usually on the onset of the warmer weather.
*treat as required.
1) Black beetle - prior to treating your lawn for black beetle infestations check the following:
- how many beetles appear on the surface? 10-15 beetles per square meter indicates a problem so *apply appropriate treatment.
- is the water actually penetrating the soil in the affected areas? Symptoms can be similar.
2) Cut worm - Cutworm are about 3-4 cm in length and are a brownish colour. They eat the leaves of your lawn causing small brown spots to appear. The presence of wasps and moths is also a clue to cutworm infestation. Treat as required.
*Ask at your local nursery for the correct product to treat the weeds AND pests you wish to eradicate or check the yellow pages for a licensed weed and pest control operator in your area.
Biagra and Aquaforce
Bi-Agra from SST Australia is a new generation water retaining agent that has been specifically designed for home garden use where watering-in is restricted. Bi-Agra is a dual action product that allows soil to accept and retain water at the root zone for longer. Application of Bi-Agra prolongs turf health and vigour, ensures efficient water use and increases water retention by up to 50%, at the root zone of your lawn.
Note: Bi-Agra is not a wetting agent, it is a dual action moisture retaining agent.
Biagra is a bi-active formula provides both outstanding penetration along with superior moisture retention. Bi-Agra strength is its ability to retain additional moisture in normally low water-retaining root zones. Unlike polyacrylamides which hold water tightly, Bi-Agra holds moisture in the soil, yet allows water availability through the normal process of osmosis as required by the roots. Bi-Agra should be used as a curative treatment on severely water repellent soils to assist with the rewetting of dry root zones.
- Can retain up to 5 times the amount of water against the root zone compared to untreated areas
- Is non-burning at recommended rates.
- Reduces turf wilting and moisture/heat stress
- Is environmentally friendly
- Is an easy hose on application
- 2 litres treats 150 m2 of lawn and garden bed
When used in combination with Aquaforce premium wetting agent, it helps keep your lawn healthy and green during Perth's summer heat and water restrictions.
Apply Aqua Force premium wetting agent initially and then follow up with an application of Bi-Agra soil moisture retainer, a few days later.
Bi-Agra premium soil moisture retaining agent is recommended for use at the following times and should be applied at least three times a year. At the beginning of Spring (September), again at the beginning of Summer (December), and in late Summer (February)
Aquaforce Premium Soil Wetter
- Highly penetrating non-ionic soil surfactant
- For extreme situations in particular severely hydrophobic soils
- Long lasting - Assists in breaking down hydrophobic build-up, water retention and rapid penetration
- Good even soil wetting qualities
- Overcomes water repellence & save water
- Reduces loss from evaporation & run-off
- Is environmentally friendly and excellent in extreme conditions
- Enhances moisture uptake and retention around the root zone, improving plant health and vigour
- Easy hose on application that will continue to re-wet soil for up to 3 months
- 2 litre container treats 200 m2 of turf
When used in combination with Bi-AgraTit helps keep your lawn healthy and green during Perth's summer heat and water restrictions. Apply Aqua Force and then follow up with an application of BI-AGRA soil moisture retainer, a few days later.
Aquaforce premium wetting agent is recommended for use at the following times in WA
Spring (September/October), Summer (December/January) and Autumn (March/April) each year.
- BI-AGRA Pamphlet Part 1
- BI-AGRA Pamphlet Part 2
- BI-AGRA Trial Report.pdf
- BI-AGRA at Stratco pamphlet
Before Aquaforce and Bi-AgraTM
After Aquaforce and Bi-AgraTM