How NOT to lay instant lawn – Pretoria

It’s all about the instant lawn today. We’re going to talk about what it takes to have a successful, instant green backyard. We’ll go over grading. We’re going to go over the depth of black dirt and dispel a few myths there. We’re going to talk about the watering schedule, when to water and how much. We’re also going to go over when you can mow the instant lawn. We’re going to teach you how to peel back the instant lawn and determine how healthy your instant lawn is, and then, the scourge of instant lawn, fighting the Japanese beetles, what to look for so you can cut them off before they become problematic. So, let’s get into it.

First thing I want to do is dispel a myth that you got to have four inches of pulverized screened black dirt. If you actually put that much black dirt on top of your sub grade, this soil, this black dirt, is going to compress and cause uneven waves in your instant lawn, but four inches isn’t necessary, and sometimes, incorporating it can be a little difficult, like tilling your entire backyard. So, if you can’t incorporate it, what I want you to do then, is to layer black dirt an inch to an inch and a half maximum. Sprinkle that over the top and make sure you do not compact that soil, because if you compact that soil, that black dirt, you’re not going to get the roots to grow into it. You sprinkle the black dirt on, and then you hand-rake that out and lay your instant lawn on top of that.

You can see in the background what Tim is doing is he actually hand raked out all of the areas before the instant lawn gets laid out. We don’t machine grade it. We don’t come in with a skid loader and level it all out, because that’ll compact the soil. So he takes that big old rake over there and just gets everything laid out. Here’s a rule, you never put instant lawn over existing grass. If you’ve got vegetation growing, you’ve got to strip and remove it because vegetation underneath, when you lay that instant lawn on top of it, it will decompose. While it’s decomposing it will heat up, killing the instant lawn on top of it. So you have to strip the vegetation underneath and lay that instant lawn. Whether it’s on black dirt or whether it’s just on sub base. It’s better off than laying it on top of existing grass. Do not do that.

To create a clean line like you see in this shot, he’s using an echo bed edger believe it or not. They don’t tell you to use this tool for this but it works phenomenal to create that line of separation. Works better than even a skid loader can do on its own. A skid loader can’t create a nice straight cut. That’s why we pulled out the echo bed edger and created all the cuts so that we had a definitive line from the turf that stays to the turf that goes. The next thing is the watering schedule. This is a critical element to the success of your instant lawn. Do not over soak the instant lawn. Simply peel back your instant lawn, look underneath and you just want the soil beneath the instant lawn to be moist. You don’t want it to be mud. Moist is good. Mud is bad. If you peel back that instant lawn and it’s okay to grab a corner of the instant lawn and literally peel it up. That won’t hurt it. When you’re doing that you can also do a quality test to see how your instant lawn is taking. You peel that instant lawn up, you should see little white roots starting to grow. That gives you an indicator that the instant lawn is enjoying the benefits of your labor and it’s starting to adhere to the sub soil.

If you look behind me what you see is they’re staggering the joint spacing. So it’ll be a full roll laid out, then the next roll starts at the half way point of the other roll next to it. Then we will cut in individual pieces to fill these in, in a brick layer basic fashion. That way we don’t get all the joint spaces lined up and the ability for water to channel and knock the instant lawn out of whack that much faster.

When to mow is another question that comes up. You can start to mow the instant lawn anywhere from three and a half to four inches. You don’t want to mow it too soon. You don’t want to mow it too short. That’s all that matters. If you can mow it below three inches, it can burn. If you start to notice you have brown patchy spots through out your yard, that’s a sure sign you have an infestation of Japanese beetles and you need to go to your local hardware store and pick up materials. All of the big box stores now sell materials specifically to fight Japanese beetles. At the first indication, which is those brown spots that make no sense why they’re showing up, you have a Japanese beetle problem. You need to cut it off at the pass. Just simply follow the directions on the package and you should be in good shape. Let’s go out to a site and look at the pattern.

We want to use a brick pattern and there is specifically some suggestions of what do to on steep slopes. So let’s go there and check it out. Alright, so the way that we’re going to be laying this instant lawn is we’re going to be rolling it sideways on this portion of the hill and as we get closer to the steeper portion of the hill, we’re actually going to be stapling it. Now, if you lay it sideways and you get a torrential rain, you can expect the instant lawn to bend in the middle. You may see that occasionally. That’s where the staples come in. If you run it down the hill, what can happen is you can get channels that come between the instant lawn and you never see those until it’s too late. It’s two different ways to skin a cat so to speak. It’s the lesser of two evils. We prefer to take the steep hills sideways but to really thoroughly staple them. That way the water rushes down the hill, the instant lawn helps slow it. And if there is any bending you can go out and repair it versus laying the instant lawn with the hill straight up and down where the channels create. You can never see them because they go between the joint spacing in the instant lawn and it just disappears until it becomes an issue the first time you go to mow.

Follow these simple rules and you should be able to go from dirt and dust to a nice green lawn in one afternoon. Make sure that you water immediately the day of the installation. God bless and go get ’em. Let me know your experiences with instant lawn and any tips or tricks down below in the comments. I’d love to hear better ways to improve upon the process.