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Sir Walter Spare Change Garden Created by Jason Hodges
Gold Medal Winning ‘Sir Walter Spare Change’ Garden – MIFGS 2012
Now this is my 2012 MIFGS Garden. We won the gold medal and we also won the best garden design award, the Calmetto Award.
My garden is a little bit different to most of the show gardens this year, because I put a lawn in it!
It’s not rocket science, grass gives your garden plenty of space and lots of places to entertain on when you’ve got more than just half a dozen people to spill out onto your lawn.
When you think about it, lawn’s one of the cheapest things you can put into the garden. This Sir Walter, which is the best grass you can buy – $500 and I’ve got all of this. If it was pavers or concrete I would be spending 10 or 20 times the amount of money.
The best thing about this is you can use it for a heap of different things – you can’t wash your car on a hard surface any more, but you can on the lawn. You can teach your kids to play a bit of footy and play a bit of cricket…
Jason Hodges Introduces the Sir Walter Spare Change Garden
MIFGS 2012 – Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.
G’day everyone, I’m Jason Hodges and I’m at the MIFGS show, which is the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show 2012.
I won a gold medal which is the fourth time I’ve done it and the name of the garden is, ‘The Sir Walter Spare Change Garden’.
I used heaps of recycled materials in this garden, which I found at the council throw out or the hard rubbish, so they cost me next to nothing, but then when used in the right I’ve made a garden look an absolute million dollars.
One of the things about my garden, and I did get the gold medal and also won the Cabrametto Award which is for the best garden design, is that this garden has a sense of space.
I have 60 square metres of Sir Walter, so we’ve got 500 bucks worth of turf, but it makes the garden breath and it gives some room for everyone to enjoy the garden differently. There’s dining rooms and bars and there’s a lounge room and if those two things were on top of each other, then I might as well have built a house. But with the lawn in the middle and the change of levels it creates interest, it makes the garden look bigger and turfs actually one of the cheapest things you can put down. If I paved this whole area, or poured concrete I’d probably be paying 10 or 20 times more than laying a beautiful lawn.
The best thing about grass is that you can learn to play footy and cricket on it and when you fall over it doesn’t hurt.
Now one of the things that can happen to many lawns is the root zone dries out the lawn gets hungry and really starts to struggle. And for us the lawn owner we either think it’s all too hard and simply give up or go and spend a heap of money on the wrong products.
A few years ago Sir Walter launched a starter fertiliser called Sir Launcher. Sir Launcher is full of the best fertilisers and water storage crystals. The only thing is it’s designed to go on before you install your new lawn, so it doesn’t really work for existing lawn. But that problem has been solved thanks to the Lawn Lovers Range.
Lawn Rescue is an easy-to-use, clip on hose pack that contains no nasty chemicals and what Sir Launcher does to new lawns, Lawn Rescue will do to existing lawns.
Lawn Rescue is an effective starter fertiliser designed for the development of root systems and early turf growth, specifically developed to stimulate support and protect new root growth in turf while optimising water availability to the plant. It contains all the vital nutrients like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. It also contains organic seaweed kelp and polycrylamide water storage technology to keep the water in the root zone where the plant most needs it.
Is sandy soil a problem for your lawn? Sir Walter Lawn Soaker is a new soil wetting agent that has been developed for lawns laid on sandy bases. In this video Nigel Ruck explains how this product improves water penetration to the root layer of your lawn.
Installing your turf is pretty straight forward. Once you have got your preparation done you are ready to go. Turf is cut fresh at the Turf farm and delivered within 24 hours so lay it as soon as possible to avoid the roots drying out.
If the turf is left stacked for any period of time it will result in heat damage. Now the turf is best laid across any slope, this is particularly important on steep sites.
Start from a straight edge such as a driveway or pavement and lay the turf in a brick work pattern ensuring that the edges fit snugly together. Use a sharp spade, a strong knife or garden sheers to cut the turf and to fit it around irregular shapes in your garden such as trees, garden beds and garden edges.
Once you have got your lawn down it is really important to use a water filled roller, you can hire these on a daily basis. What these do is ensure the roots are in good contact with the soil below. Without this important step the roots can dry out, your turf can dry out and you will end up using a lot more water in the first 24-48 hours.
Sir Walter is an excellent lawn for shady areas but to get the most out of it here is a few handy tips for you. First of all you need to ensure that it does get some filtered light and also if you have it growing under trees don’t let any leaf litter build up, make sure you rake that off quick smart so the blades can get any available light.You may find that in winter the grass thins out a little a bit and that’s perfectly normal, there is no need to panic. Another thing is to reduce the traffic flow in the shady areas, keep that right down to a minimum because that may wear the grass out. And of course always follow a good lawn maintenance program.
Gypsum, also known as calcium sulphate helps to break down and open up a clay soil allowing water, nutrients, air and lawn roots to penetrate into the soil more easily which is exactly what you want.
Now if you’ve got a clay soil it’s best to incorporate the gypsum into the soil before you spread your turf underlay mix. You can do this with a rotary hoe or you could just use a mattock for small areas.
For an existing lawn use a garden fork, push it in while moving it back and forth. Broadcast the required amount of lime over the area and water it into the soil. Now sometimes you lawn will get damaged from general wear and tear from pets or high traffic and even cold weather. Gypsum will help repair these areas.
Now always read the instructions on the bag buy as a general rule for light clay soils you need to apply 1 kg per square metre and for heavy clay soils you double it to 2 kg per square metre. And remember this too, gypsum is pH neutral, if you want to raise your soils pH you need to apply lime or dolomite.
I’d like to introduce my new book, Loving your Lawn, your guide to the perfect aussie lawn.
Created with the collective knowledge of 66 of the leading Australian Turf Growers, this book enables people throughout Australia to select, lay and maintain a lawn to suit their unique situation.
Published by Green Propeller and written by myself, this comprehensive lawn guide is a collaborative work. It’s the first book of its kind – aimed directly at all Australian lawn lovers and their lawns. Loving your Lawn combines the practical and localised knowledge of turf farmers across Australia with my hands-on knowledge and practical skills in both lawn and landscaping in general. Green Propeller’s creative, editorial and marketing team have crafted this knowledge into a unique fusion of how-to guides, practical information and outstanding photography — a book worthy of any coffee table, or lawn enthusiasts book shelf.
Lawns come in all shapes and sizes. Here are a few handy tips to help you work out how much soil and lawn you are going to need.
To measure the area of a square or rectangle, just multiply the length by the width. To measure the area of a circle, multiply the radius by itself and then by 3.14. To measure the area of a triangle, multiply the height by the base divided by 2. You will need 1 cubic metre per 10 square metres. For irregular shapes it is a good idea to break the area down, measure those and then add them all up. And always remember to add about 5-10% extra on your order for contingencies.
Sometimes you may find your lawn is not performing very well or not responding to fertiliser and this could be to do with the soils pH.
Now pH is a measure of acidity and alkalinity and Sir Walter lawns like to be in the 6 to 7.5 range for optimum performance. A pH in the right range of 6 to 7.5 is a bit like a plant with its mouth wide open, no food will go to waste here and it will all be eaten by the plant.
Adjusting the pH is easier on loamy and sandy soils than on heavy clays. If your soil is a sandy loam and you need to raise the soil pH by one unit add the equivalent of 150g of liming material per square metre. An adult handful is about 100g.
Heavy clay soils will require at least 250g to raise the pH by one unit. A super fine grade of lime works quickest and generally costs around $8 a bag.
For an established lawn, which may be lacking magnesium, mix 50/50 lime and dolomite as the liming material to get the right balance of calcium and magnesium. Dolomite is only available in one grade and costs around $8 a bag.
After applying lime or dolomite make sure you water them well so that it moves into the soil. Testing the soil’s pH may seem like some mad scientific operation but it couldn’t be simpler with one of the soil pH test kits. All you have to do is follow the instructions and it even tells you how to make the changes.
You can get all the lawn care products you will need here at our online Lawnstore.
A common question asked is – Can Sir Walter be grown from seed? And the answer is no. Most of your drought tolerant varieties cannot be grown from seed. Sir Walter does produce a seed but it is male, sterile and not economically viable to be grown from. Even at the turf farms, Sir Walter is grown from a cutting.
Your seed grown varieties tend to be cool season grasses like rye, fescue and blue grass. And these in most parts of Australia fail as a home lawn because the country is basically too hot. These grasses are much better suited to the cooler parts of Europe and upper North America.
A lot of the Sir Walter growers get people ringing them up asking them, “Why has my Sir Walter lawn gone to seed?”
Now this is an excellent question, and it is part of your lawn’s survival mechanism in response to change, say sudden hot weather or lots of rain.
Now if your lawn is only going to seed during these sudden changes then you have nothing to worry about. But if your lawn is constantly in seed then you probably have some issues with your soil and you need to take some remedial action such as fertilising and top dressing to really beef up that lawn again.
On this video out at the Turf farm you can see a really good example of this with two sections side by side. The first section has recently been fertilised and it is beautiful, lush and green. The second section is exactly the same lawn but hasn’t been fertilised, it is a lighter colour and has gone to seed.
You get some good fertiliser on the second section and it will be lush and green and seedless just like the Sir Walter next door.
Top Dressing is sometimes required to fix unevenness or irregularities in your lawn. In this Sir Walter video Nigel Ruck explains how you can use river sand or specialist top soil to top dress your lawn.
Watering tips for your lawn / Lawns tips & watering
We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to water your lawn straight away, as soon as you have got it down. If you don’t water it your lawn will dry out and start turning brown and look very nasty. If you are doing a large area don’t wait until it is all finished, start watering once you have a few metres down, because that first hour in the sun is critical. Make sure you water methodically, thoroughly soaking every square metre before moving onto the next section.
Establishing your roots
The surface soil must be kept moist until the roots of the turf have established. To test later on, try to lift a corner of the turf, if it holds well it is established, if it comes away in your hand it needs more time. This is also the way to determine whether the lawn is established enough to be mown, this can take between 1 to 8 weeks depending on location and the time of year.The amount of water your lawn will need will depend on local conditions. A good idea is to leave a towel out on the lawn for the first few days, when the towel dries out, your lawn will immediately need more water, it is so critical for the first few days. Also move the towel around just so you don’t do any damage to the lawn.It is important that your lawn receives regular waterings and is prevented from drying out for the first 6 weeks or at least until it has been mown twice by which time it should be well established.
Remember less frequent deeper soakings are the way to go because that will encourage good strong deep roots, which is what every lawn owner should strive for.
If your lawn becomes slightly patchy 4 to 6 weeks after installation it is usually due to extreme weather or lack of correct watering during early establishment. There is not a lot you can do if this occurs, except give it some time and it will return to normal. Once it is established watering can be cut right back, Sir Walter lawns in most parts of Australia hardly need any regular watering to keep alive once established.
Except in really sandy locations such as Western Australia where weekly watering will be required.Don’t forget when it comes to watering always check and comply with any local water restrictions or better still if you haven’t done so already install a rain tank.