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  Reply # 1244852 23-Feb-2015 14:32
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Agree breaking up soil down to at least 10cm is good, 20cm better, 30cm great. Never heard of pumace in soil. You could put in compost, peat moss, or even a top layer of soil mixture made especially for grass. You can grow grass in 10cm of soil, you'll just have to fertilise more often than you might otherwise.

You could just throw about seed and rake it in, a month later you'd have lawn - though you have to keep seed moist while it germinates, and no doubt there will be patches needing a bit more seed. Cost probably $100 for seed I guess.




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  Reply # 1244951 23-Feb-2015 15:53
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I'm no lawn expert but I recent put in basic micro-sprinkler system for my sister for Christmas and just wanted make a couple of points.

Mitre 10 seem to be messed up for home irrigation. My local Mega has gone from one whole row of home irrigation stuff to just one set of shelves and still never has hardly any stock. The staff keep saying they are out of stock due to changing to a new supplier but its been like this for at least six months and was the same at another Mega I visited. Not sure if they are just pulling out of the market and running down their stock or are genuinely have supplier problems. Their website seem to have nothing but a starter kit any more.

In the end I gave up and went and found the new Irrigation Warehouse that has recently opened here. Much cheaper, lots of stock and helpful staff. Recommend them if you are in Christchurch or Rangiora. Not sure what they are like for online orders as I have not tried.      

 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 1244954 23-Feb-2015 15:57
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I disagree with the advice you are getting about soil profile. 

Water naturally tries to drain down through soil.  The less permeable the soil is, the less drainage you will get, the more water must pool in the soil, and the more lateral movement you should get.  Water tracks for 100's of metres horizontally in clay soils.  In sandy/pumice soils (like the property I grew up on) it disappears straight down.  I wouldn't use sand/pumice at all.  Fine silt with lots of organic matter will form a friable soil, that holds water, but doesn't have massive pores.  Ideally, underlain with clay.

Another thing to think about: A smart controller that can read a moisture sensor positioned at a representative location and doesn't water when the soil is moist.  Will save you water/$.

Plant roots have an amazing ability to find and grow into water sources - assumedly the dripper lines you are looking at can prevent this?




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  Reply # 1245061 23-Feb-2015 18:23
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15 months ago we got Tall Fescue installed in Pakuranga (East Auckland).  I say "installed", because it was WoolGro which is like a weed mat made from wool offcuts and has seeds embedded.  The mat suppressed weeds for a while to help the grass establish.  You still get some weeds, but they are not as many as you would get with just seeds.  I like fine fescue, but they don't do fine fescue and it is also not recommended for Auckland as our humidity is too high so it is prone to fungus.

We had a lot of clay, so much that in Winter you could hear water running under our previous lawn.  We replaced the clay with a garden soil mix from Heards Bark and Soil in Takanini.  It drains well and is a good mix, but also holds water well.  This was put down about 30cm-50cm deep, in some places deeper.  Then the irrigation done by WoolGro.  They use Hunter pop-ups, the MP Rotator series.  You get them for covering rectangular strips, and is a very good quality sprinkler.  They spray very low but with large drops, getting a very even 10mm per hour coverage without getting affected too much by wind.  Note that fescue needs about 20-25mm water per week (ongoing, not during establishment) but in 1 or 2 sessions to promote deep roots, not frequent light watering.  It also means the soil dries out and weaker weeds tend to die.  Next came 2 applications of roundup, then WoolGro, then 10mm of fine top soil.  You need very close to 10mm coverage, else fescue will not germinate.  It also need ambient temperature to stay above 10 or 12 degrees C, else it will not germinate.  And for the first few weeks until full germination you need to water it about 4 times per day for about 15 minutes at a time (about 2-5mm water) to keep the seeds wet, else it does not germinate.  Then you can back off a bit until the roots get established.  Cut off about 1/3 of the grass, usually at about 7cm but you can cut it down to 3cm if you really want to.  Thicker lawn however means no light for weeds to germinate.  Currently I'm cutting mine at 10cm.

I love my tall fescue, there are no runners so the edger is used only because the lawn mower can't reach against the fences.  Other maintenance is applying this stuff https://finelawn.myshopify.com/collections/fertilisers/products/turf-gold during Spring/Autumn about every 2 months, and in Autumn while it is still warm enough you overseed as it does not spread to fill in gaps (no runners...) and typically it does not seed as you mow the seed heads off.  The best herbicide I've found is spot treatment with this stuff http://www.kings.co.nz/plant-health/tui-plant-protection/new-release/targeted-grass-eliminator-500ml-rtu when you get Kikuyu or paspalum, but I don;t think it works for fine fescue (not sure).  Other weeds can be controlled with Woody Weed Killer (normally used for trees).

If you buy anything garden water wise off Amazon or eBay, keep in mind that the USA has something called Garden Hose Thread (GHT) which is the thread used for garden hoses.  They are the only country in the world to use it.  It is very similar to BSP which most other countries use, but the pitch is slightly different and the thread is tapers (seals with an interference fit rather than a washer).  I've made that mistake, bought a 4 circuit timer for half the price, but then ran into GHT.  Usually you can however mate it with BSP if you use 2 washers so that it seals on the extra thick washer before the thread mismatch interferes.

Whatever you do regarding the type of grass, I'd go for Hunter MP Rotator pop-ups.  Run it on a timer, but start it manually whenever you see the grass getting dry.  Fescue is a cool season grass, it goes dormant when it gets too hot/dry and you will see when it needs water (leafs look dehydrated and hard, leaving footprints as you walk on it).  It bounces back as soon as it gets a decent amount of water.




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  Reply # 1245076 23-Feb-2015 18:41
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Try not to confuse Tall Fescue with Fine Fescue. They are totally different. 25mm of water per week seems a lot of water but totally agree on deep and infrequent watering. 
Wow that grass eliminator is good. It wont kill fine fescue either at correct rates but will kill ryegrass and tall fescue. 
That turf gold is an excellent fertiliser. I use about 2 tonne per year.

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  Reply # 1245127 23-Feb-2015 20:24
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keriboi: Try not to confuse Tall Fescue with Fine Fescue.

Correct, and my comment was that fine fescue is not recommended for Auckland (Manukau) lawns due to our high humidity so I'm steering the OP towards tall fescue.  Sorry for not making it clear.

If I apply Targeted Grass Killer 1-2 weeks apart, it affects the fescue.  If I apply it 3-4 weeks apart, it seems to be okay.  Kaykuiu looks sick after about 5 days, Paspalum seed heads stop growing the next day and leaves turn purple after about 2-3 days and it stops growing.  Amazing stuff.  You can't get it as a concentrate as it is dangerous, Tui is the only company I know of that makes it for the local market.  The only paspalum killer concentrate that works in fescue, is banned in NZ as of ~2008 because it is arsenic.  You still get it in AU under the brand Brunnings (not Bunnings).  I am a lot happier after discovering Targeted Grass Killer.

A 20kg bag of Turf Gold should last me 1 season for about 180 sqm lawn.




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  Reply # 1245133 23-Feb-2015 20:31
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timmmay: Agree breaking up soil down to at least 10cm is good, 20cm better, 30cm great. Never heard of pumace in soil.
Currently I've gone down to around 15cm which I think should suffice. Pumice is actually very common in soil care, the term I learnt was that pumice can be used to "amend" soil. Google throws up a bunch of info. I also noted that the premium top soil I was looking at includes 10-20% of pumice from memory.



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  Reply # 1245135 23-Feb-2015 20:35
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MikeAqua: I disagree with the advice you are getting about soil profile. 

Water naturally tries to drain down through soil.  The less permeable the soil is, the less drainage you will get, the more water must pool in the soil, and the more lateral movement you should get.  Water tracks for 100's of metres horizontally in clay soils.  In sandy/pumice soils (like the property I grew up on) it disappears straight down.  I wouldn't use sand/pumice at all.  Fine silt with lots of organic matter will form a friable soil, that holds water, but doesn't have massive pores.  Ideally, underlain with clay.

Another thing to think about: A smart controller that can read a moisture sensor positioned at a representative location and doesn't water when the soil is moist.  Will save you water/$.

Plant roots have an amazing ability to find and grow into water sources - assumedly the dripper lines you are looking at can prevent this?


The clay soil I spend hours digging up and breaking down was completely void of any life. It was like digging into partially set concrete. No worms or roots structures at all. I think that if you have a clay based soil which holds water really well than a more aerated upper level will encourage good root growth. I'll do some more research but I think adding pumice is a good idea in my case.



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  Reply # 1245147 23-Feb-2015 20:42
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Niel: 15 months ago we got Tall Fescue installed in Pakuranga (East Auckland).  I say "installed", because it was WoolGro which is like a weed mat made from wool offcuts and has seeds embedded.  The mat suppressed weeds for a while to help the grass establish.  You still get some weeds, but they are not as many as you would get with just seeds.  I like fine fescue, but they don't do fine fescue and it is also not recommended for Auckland as our humidity is too high so it is prone to fungus.

We had a lot of clay, so much that in Winter you could hear water running under our previous lawn.  We replaced the clay with a garden soil mix from Heards Bark and Soil in Takanini.  It drains well and is a good mix, but also holds water well.  This was put down about 30cm-50cm deep, in some places deeper.  Then the irrigation done by WoolGro.  They use Hunter pop-ups, the MP Rotator series.  You get them for covering rectangular strips, and is a very good quality sprinkler.  They spray very low but with large drops, getting a very even 10mm per hour coverage without getting affected too much by wind.  Note that fescue needs about 20-25mm water per week (ongoing, not during establishment) but in 1 or 2 sessions to promote deep roots, not frequent light watering.  It also means the soil dries out and weaker weeds tend to die.  Next came 2 applications of roundup, then WoolGro, then 10mm of fine top soil.  You need very close to 10mm coverage, else fescue will not germinate.  It also need ambient temperature to stay above 10 or 12 degrees C, else it will not germinate.  And for the first few weeks until full germination you need to water it about 4 times per day for about 15 minutes at a time (about 2-5mm water) to keep the seeds wet, else it does not germinate.  Then you can back off a bit until the roots get established.  Cut off about 1/3 of the grass, usually at about 7cm but you can cut it down to 3cm if you really want to.  Thicker lawn however means no light for weeds to germinate.  Currently I'm cutting mine at 10cm.

I love my tall fescue, there are no runners so the edger is used only because the lawn mower can't reach against the fences.  Other maintenance is applying this stuff https://finelawn.myshopify.com/collections/fertilisers/products/turf-gold during Spring/Autumn about every 2 months, and in Autumn while it is still warm enough you overseed as it does not spread to fill in gaps (no runners...) and typically it does not seed as you mow the seed heads off.  The best herbicide I've found is spot treatment with this stuff http://www.kings.co.nz/plant-health/tui-plant-protection/new-release/targeted-grass-eliminator-500ml-rtu when you get Kikuyu or paspalum, but I don;t think it works for fine fescue (not sure).  Other weeds can be controlled with Woody Weed Killer (normally used for trees).

If you buy anything garden water wise off Amazon or eBay, keep in mind that the USA has something called Garden Hose Thread (GHT) which is the thread used for garden hoses.  They are the only country in the world to use it.  It is very similar to BSP which most other countries use, but the pitch is slightly different and the thread is tapers (seals with an interference fit rather than a washer).  I've made that mistake, bought a 4 circuit timer for half the price, but then ran into GHT.  Usually you can however mate it with BSP if you use 2 washers so that it seals on the extra thick washer before the thread mismatch interferes.

Whatever you do regarding the type of grass, I'd go for Hunter MP Rotator pop-ups.  Run it on a timer, but start it manually whenever you see the grass getting dry.  Fescue is a cool season grass, it goes dormant when it gets too hot/dry and you will see when it needs water (leafs look dehydrated and hard, leaving footprints as you walk on it).  It bounces back as soon as it gets a decent amount of water.


I'll have to ask the turf grower's opinion about grass for Manukau. The grower is just around the corner from me so would it not be strange for them to be growing a grass variety unsuited for the region? I know the grower has been sitting on a full batch of turf for a couple months due to lack of rain. Insufficient rain has meant roots have not established deep enough for harvesting. We have a very sunny section so perhaps that helps.

20-25mm per week doesn't sound too bad, two hours of watering a week. The landscaper I spoke to said run the sprinklers every morning for 10-20mins. The sprinklers you use seem to be well-priced. The ones I was looking at before were $50 a pop. Thanks Niel.


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  Reply # 1245173 23-Feb-2015 20:51
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I contacted woolgrow about two weeks ago, no response thus far, bit disappointed.

Probably should have waited for them to commit to doing my lawn before killing it all with weedkiller... Luckily the Mrs never liked the lawn anyway.


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  Reply # 1245184 23-Feb-2015 21:05
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I've use Toro sprinklers of all sizes and they are very good. I also like Rain Bird but never really played with Hunter. Pope is also a cheaper brand.

Ive found clay to be a sealer. If you have a clay base and only a small amount of topsoil the surface can become mushy. Best surfaces I have come across are 100 percent sand on top of clay. It depends on your sand type on the depth of the sand. I believe this would be the perfect setup if you are using subsurface irrigation. Ideally you would create a perched water table. The roots would then grow down to find the water leaving you a dry surface. This would lessen the chance of weeds and diseases. Auckland is very bad for disease like leaf spot/melting out or pythium which can kill a lawn in one weekend. 

Down side is you would need to seed your lawn as you should not put soil based turf over sand. But then a seeded lawn will always be better than a turfed lawn down the track.






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  Reply # 1245190 23-Feb-2015 21:20
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insane: I contacted woolgrow about two weeks ago, no response thus far, bit disappointed.

Probably should have waited for them to commit to doing my lawn before killing it all with weedkiller... Luckily the Mrs never liked the lawn anyway.



I've been looking at a pile of dirt for 2 months whilst waiting for the grass to grow (on someone elses land).



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  Reply # 1245203 23-Feb-2015 21:24
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keriboi: I've use Toro sprinklers of all sizes and they are very good. I also like Rain Bird but never really played with Hunter. Pope is also a cheaper brand.

Ive found clay to be a sealer. If you have a clay base and only a small amount of topsoil the surface can become mushy. Best surfaces I have come across are 100 percent sand on top of clay. It depends on your sand type on the depth of the sand. I believe this would be the perfect setup if you are using subsurface irrigation. Ideally you would create a perched water table. The roots would then grow down to find the water leaving you a dry surface. This would lessen the chance of weeds and diseases. Auckland is very bad for disease like leaf spot/melting out or pythium which can kill a lawn in one weekend. 

Down side is you would need to seed your lawn as you should not put soil based turf over sand. But then a seeded lawn will always be better than a turfed lawn down the track.



How deep would the sand layer be? Sand then gravel then clay base according to this awesome turf growing manual:
http://toolboxes.flexiblelearning.net.au/archive/tour/turf/html/pages/office/grass_roots/perched.html



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  Reply # 1245222 23-Feb-2015 21:44
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Hatch: 
I've been looking at a pile of dirt for 2 months whilst waiting for the grass to grow (on someone elses land).


Using decent seed and good technique you will see green within a week and in a month you'll have a lawn. It'll take a few more to fully fill out.




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  Reply # 1245224 23-Feb-2015 21:49
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Gravel setup was designed in the states. It is called a usga sand profile. Pretty much what you find at Eden park. Expensive and over the top for a home lawn. Usually its around 150mm of gravel with 300mm of sand. But you need the right sand at the right depth. Perry 800 sand would likely work.

I think a better setup would be a california sand profile. It could just 150-200mm sand and no gravel layer.

Huge costs for a simple lawn. Sometimes I wonder if just a kikuyu lawn would be so much easier.






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