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For many of us, installing a lawn involves commissioning landscaper to dig up the grounds, rake and plant a grass type we will have recommended or one they suggest for us. Thereafter the serious business of lawn tending starts and ends with lawn mowing and occasional watering.

But there is more to raising a trouble free lawn than just planting and mowing. And as the home owner or end user, you are well advised to take keen interest in how your lawn will be done.


Kikuyu grass lawn

Choosing the right grass

The first step in raising a great lawn is to grow the right grass. What are the conditions like at your site? Full sun or partial sun? Will you be entertaining a lot therefore heavy foot traffic? Or will it be light use? If you know the conditions or end use, you will opt for a suitable grass. Locally the common grass types grown are;

  1. Kikuyu grass
  2. Cape royal
  3. Arabicum
  4. Maadi river.
  5. Pemba grass
  6. Zimbabwe grass
  7. Paspalum

Generally the first three types in the list above thrive in direct sun, in shade it’s anunending struggle. The last three are amenable to growing in shade but still do well infull sun. However, Zimbabwe grass will give the best result for shaded areas. Maadi river is your best bet if your lawn will be heavily used, and you need a resilient lawn that survives drought.

Sound Drainage

Whatever grass you grow ensure the grounds drain well. Ideal drainage can be achieved through a combination of a slope and percolation. The easier option is to have a gentle slope draining the water away from the lawn aided by a free draining, fairly porous soil through which water seeps into the lower soil layers.

If it happens that there is no way water can be drained out of the lawn into the main drainages, drainage by percolation will be the only option left. This calls for a thorough conditioning of the soil by digging deeply and mixing the soil with ample compost or manure. Ensure the ground has a true level so that water doesn’t collect in one place, but rather seeps slowly into the soil. Where the soil is really bad, say cotton soil, underlie the lower layer with hardcore stones and top up with red soil to aid in drainage.

It needs no gainsaying that with lawns, initial ground preparation holds the key to a successful lawn.

Maintaining your Lawn Organically

Having planted your lawn successfully, you need to manage it so that it serves you well and remains aesthetically appealing. Countless times we have been called in to help rescue a lawn which once upon a time was the envy of the neighbourhood.Yet upon inspection, we find the culprit is not lack of attention, but poor management practices.

If you desire a trouble free lawn, go the organic way.

You will get a thick green carpet of grass for a lesser effort and less money spent. You only need to keenly observe or change your management style. For instance, cut the grass at a higher setting preferably 4’’-6’’inches. A taller grass develops deeper roots, which enables it out compete or smoother the weeds and withstand drought better. Besides tall grass always appears thicker to the eye.

The desire for a smart turf can sometimes blind us to the need to feed our lawn by leaving the grass clippings behind after mowing. More often we would rather sweep the clippings off the grass—to get that “look”. However the best practice is to let the clippings decompose into the lawn, offering nitrogen to the grass and a feast to the microorganisms in the soil. These are the ones that improve drainage by their burrowing activities in the soil.

Feed your lawn sparingly. Grass, like all living things, needs nourishment for it to be at its best. If you over feed your lawn, the grass becomes more succulent which encourages pests.Our in house style is to feed the grass only twice a year using slow release organic fertilizers, given that we don't bag or sweep off grass clippings.

Finally water your grass infrequently, unless you are confronted with an extended dry spell. If you mow your grass high and the leave the grass clippings behind, your established lawn will hardly need watering. However when you do water, go for a deep soaking but done infrequently. This encourages deeper root growth.


In our next article we look at common lawn problems and how to solve them organically -with no chemical in sight.


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