How to combat common lawn problems


Substituting for my son, Scott, on gardening talkback (2NURFM) this week, I had many callers with lawn problems.

This is often the case when army grub attacks lawns during summer, but I even had a call about black beetles, as well as weed problems.

Although eliminating weeds at this time is the top priority before fertilising, unfortunately, the regular rainfall can make that difficult.

Forget feeding the grass right now as, until it is actively growing, the fertiliser isn’t taken up by the grass – the indicator is growing means mowing.

Spraying for weeds, especially in buffalo lawns, must be done with care – I often recommend Bin-Die as it not only eliminates bindiis and clover, it also works well on broadleafed weeds.

The secret to success is difficult, given the current weather, but the rules are: don’t spray on mown lawn or wet grass, whether that be from rain or heavy dew.

Spray early so that there is roughly six hours of sun to assist the product to work, then leave for two weeks before mowing.

Another question I was asked was about a horror weed, oxalis – bulbous weeds such as this, onion weed, and nut grass are extremely diffi cult to remove as the selective chemicals normally don’t do the job.

There is an old trick that may work: when growth begins, thicken the lawn by feeding regularly so that these weeds will not predominate.

Once sulphate of ammonia was used on a sunny day to burn out the weeds.

Obviously you can only buy this in small amounts, but it can be a last resort and it was originally used to green up the grass for spring – that meant watering it in.

Using it on weeds, it is applied heavily on each weed and not watered.

I often get requests for weed and feed products; yes, they are adequate for small infestations of weeds in the lawn but, if you have an invasion of weeds in your lawn, use a lawn weeder product and then fertilise after the weeds have died.

The beauty of having grass around our homes is the cooling effect it gives.

Lawn provides a place for relaxation and, more importantly, grass absorbs moisture, whereas concrete or paving can cause run-off problems during storms.

Tasks such as mowing, feeding and weeding not only keep the lawn looking attractive, but also provide long-term benefits in repelling unwelcome invaders, such as lawn pests.


  • After heavy rain, apply dolomite to roses and lime to lawns.
  • Tomatoes and summer vegetables are now being marketed – don’t forget to dig in cow manure, one week before planting.
  • Keep an eye out for Calypso Beetle eating Lillypillies.
  • Once Japonica camellias finish flowering, feed with cow manure (ground grown) and apply peat moss over the root surface.

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