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Tim Entwisle kicks off this section focused on gardening in tough conditions, and the difficulties facing all gardeners as the climate becomes increasingly variable. Monthly tasks, checklists, how-tos and step-by-steps are now packaged in a vibrant new format that is friendlier on the eye, but still packed with all the practical advice gardeners need. This succinct guide to lawn care explains how to sow lawn from seed, or lay it as fresh turf.
This quirky piece has John Patrick musing on the way some plants fake their deaths, how to check a plant’s vital signs, and why a plant might become unhappy in the first place.
SERIES 21 Episode 14Lawns allow oxygen and water to penetrate the soil and, when positioned in the right spot, they can actually keep your home and garden cooler. Copyright Restrictions: This fact sheet is for private and domestic information purposes only. Links to sites that may interest you, including botanical gardens, private gardens, and gardening societies in your state.
Comprehensive information on what to grow and how to grow it, plus great gardens, design ideas and stories from the show. Colin gives some advice on lawn maintenanceIt's a time honoured Aussie tradition - cranking up the mower and going for a burn over the front lawn. SERIES 24 Episode 20Tino continues the development of his garden"My daughter Eden is getting to the stage where she's playing in the backyard, so I'm creating a play surface that's forgiving, yet hard-wearing and reasonably easy to keep neat. Tim discusses how Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria is tailoring its tree planting program to suit a warmer world. First up, Michael McCoy takes his cue from a medieval French garden to fashion decorative trellis from organic materials.
There’s a list of some of the top modern turf varieties, tips on rejuvenating old lawn with fertiliser and top-dressing, and advice on despatching moss, bindii and bare patches.
However, after a long, hot, dry summer with no irrigation, most lawns are on their last legs.AeratingThe first step to rejuvenating lawn is to add air. It may not be copied, reproduced, sold or used for any other purpose without the express permission of the ABC. Yep," says Tino, "I'm planting a lawn.""I rotary-hoed this area late last year to get out all the lumps and bumps and now I've pretty much separated out all the rocks.
Lawns make large demands on your energy and the environment because they guzzle water and need constant maintenance. We go behind the scenes at Floriade, look at some old fashioned ways to make beautiful trellis, and ask: Is that plant dead or resting?
Sticks, twigs, bamboo and prunings can all be turned into something that is part sculpture, part framework. It’s also an old favourite for Sophie Thomson, who has a long history with this beautiful plant. The way to do that is simply to get a garden fork and push it into the grass, wiggling the tines back and forth. In this age of water conscious gardening, we're aware that one thing that uses quite a lot of water is turf. I'm aiming for what serious gardeners talk about as 'good tilth' - that is, an even particle size rather than big clods of earth. Many gardeners recognise the need for a reduced area of lawn as they no longer need large expanses of grass, and also want to use water-wise methods.
There’s expert advice on growing pumpkins, as well as that most glorious of climbers, wisteria.

This allows air to get down into the soil and allows any rain to penetrate down to the root zone of the grass.Dethatching and WeedingRake out any dead grass or runners called thatch. So it’s important to maintain a good lawn without wasting a drop of that valuable resource.Matt Roche is a turf agronomist for the Department of Primary Industries. Good tilth is particularly important for lawns for even germination and growth - and now I'm pretty much there.""However, to get that good tilth in my soil, I've had to constantly cultivate it and break up the big clay clods. Lawns are appropriate where they receive heavy traffic and boisterous play by children and pets. This helps to loosen the soil surface, makes it easier for rain to penetrate, and also makes it easier for new runners to take root. He works at Redlands Research Station where there are 138 different varieties of warm season turf and the plots are used for field days. However grass is frequently planted in areas that are difficult to water, maintain and grow. If you have undulations, the ground will hold water inconsistently, so you'll get dry patches at the high points and the lawnmower will cut into them too." "I've built a low stone wall from the rocks I've dug out of the garden. If your lawn has a small bald patch, simply repair it by digging a sod, about 20 centimetres by 20 centimetres, from elsewhere on the lawn.
But if you see hydrophobic turf grass or soil, use a wetting agent,” Matt says.From time to time you get weeds in the lawn. If it receives little or no foot traffic then it is feasible to consider removing it and using a lawn substitute that requires minimum maintenance and no mowing. A well-chosen groundcover can provide the same advantages as lawn without high maintenance and water requirements. The first is the 'Kneeling Armstrong' method – that’s where you kneel down and with a strong arm and a sharp knife, dig out each one by hand.
Also, because I'm using seed, in the early days of the lawn - before germination - the seeds won't float down to the lowest point, leaving the top bare.""The seed I've chosen to use is Microlaena stipoides (Weeping Grass). Groundcovers provide cooling for buildings and year-round colour, choke out weeds and spread by themselves. It's native to a lot of non-arid areas of Australia - as far away as south-western WA, all the way up to Cape York and even down here in Tassie.""Before I sow the seed, I'm wetting down the sand to make it more tacky. Using instant turf this way, one square metre of turf can be used to create 10 square metres of lawn. The other way is to spray the lawn with a selective chemical - one that kills the weeds but leaves the grass intact.
Herbs are a good substitute because they offer other functional and aesthetic possibilities in gardens.
I'm sowing the seed at a rate of about one to two handfuls every square metre and as evenly as possible. However Corsican Mint Mentha requienii and Pennyroyal Mentha pulegium both exude the smell of mint when walked on and make excellent specimens as lawn alternatives.
For lightly trafficked areas Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile makes another soft, highly-scented alternative.
This mat-forming plant grows to about 6 cm high with fern-like foliage and yellow-centred, white flowers.
But remember, it’s a non selective weed killer, so if you brush it over a whole lot of grass, the grass will die too. If you don't mow until the new seed has dropped, it will sprout and keep the lawn really dense.""Now, the wind's come up, so I'm wetting down the seeds as I go to stop them blowing away!

There are many species of the perennial herb thyme and the prostrate forms are worth experimenting with.
I need to keep the area well-watered for the next two to three weeks while the seed germinates.
These ground-hugging plants grow to about 4 centimetres high and produce flowers ranging from gold, pink and mauve. As winter approaches and daylight lessens the grass needs a longer leaf area to capture what light is available, so it can feed itself through photosynthesis. But as summer approaches, the days lengthen, and there is more light, so you need less leaf area. For solutions to shaded areas there are two Australian plants that are particularly successful.
I'll have to keep pulling them out as they come up.""The second one is birds, so I'll have to put some netting up. The Native Violet Viola hederacea spreads by runners, as does Kidney Weed Dichondra repens, which is probably the most common lawn alternative used in home gardens. I'm using a white net with a fine mesh to ensure that birds can see it and don't get tangled up in it.""My lawn should be ready for its first mow in mid to late spring and ready for outdoor entertaining or kids to play on in summer. Not only is it able to withstand wear and tear because of its miniature water-lily type foliage, but it is also low and tight and blends well with grasses that are only partially successful in shady locations. When mown regularly it forms a dense sword of grass that looks good because the leaves are fine, and it’s a wonderful surface for the home garden. Other plants to be considered include the Blue Bugle Flower Ajuga reptans ‘Catlin’s Giant’, which has purple-bronze or variegated leaves, Dwarf Mondo Grass Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nana’, which is effective grown between paving, and Baby’s Tears Soleirolia soleirolii, which performs well in damp conditions. The growing of ground cover plants is an ideal way of creating a living garden floor, but in some situations a more permanent landscape material may need to be used in areas with heavy wear and tear.
It’s great for landscaping and good for lawn because the kids can roll and play on it, and the dog can run all over it – and it's as tough as old boots. The use of paving, decking, gravel, crushed brick and organic mulches are all ideal materials. Sawdust can be used for pathways where grass fails to thrive because of a dense tree canopy or large tree roots. For more shaded areas try Stenotraphrum secundatum, commonly called buffalo grass or broad leaf carpet grass, and the Axonopus compressus variety, which has the tendency to grow quite well.
Extensive paved areas can also be softened with dense low growing ground covers to provide an eye-catching contrast to the materials. By selecting the right turf that suits your garden conditions and implementing some simple maintenance measures it’s possible to have a beautiful lawn that will last year after year. Reducing the lawn and using more suitable lawn alternatives offers the home gardener a more casual approach to gardening by using less water and fertilisers. There are no plants that will replace lawn species for their toughness, but every style of garden, whether formal or informal, can be planted effectively because of the many excellent alternatives to the traditional lawn that are available.

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