Lawn Plugs are small 3.8cm x 5cm x 2cm individual ‘plugs’ used for the establishment of lawn alternatives which are low growing plants that can substitute for traditional grass lawn areas. The Lawn Plugs are grown in trays each holding 49 individual plants, much like the way flowers or vegetables are sold. Lawn Plugs work best in small or niche ‘low trafficked’ areas, rather than in large expanses like a traditional lawn. Examples of suitable areas include courtyard gardens, between pavers or stairs, in rockeries or in shady areas under trees. (If you are wanting to establish a new lawn or you have a large area to cover consider buying turf rolls or sod as it may work-out cheaper in the long run).
The concept of using Lawn Plugs to establish a lawn alternative is fairly straight forward. The first step determines how quickly you would like to see coverage, Naturally, each plant has differing growth habits so the following outline is a general guide and we suggest you refer to the recommended rate for each plant on its plant profile page.
If you are a patient gardener you can plant as little as 5 to 7 plugs per square metre, at this rate it would usually take a full growing season, (5 to 8 months if planted in spring), to give you complete coverage. Now if you are wanting quicker results planting 10 to 20 plugs per square should give you complete coverage in a third of a growing season, (2 to 5 months if planted in spring). These estimates of coverage assume that good ground preparation, fertilising and watering have been undertaken.
Lawn Plugs, in addition to being inexpensive, have the following advantages
· quick and easy to plant as they only require a 5cm deep hole;
· can be planted at a density suited to the situation;
· rapidly become established due to the spreading nature of species available;
· require little care once established; and
· cost-effective to ship.
Gardeners Planthub currently sells 3 lawn alternative plants in Lawn Plugs and a range of other suitable plants in 'Tube 10 Packs', see - https://theplanthub.com.au/lawn-and-lawn-alternatives/
The key to success with Lawn Plugs is species selection, soil preparation and maintenance. Follow the steps below for great results.
1) SPECIES SELECTION. Select the right species for your planting area. For shady areas, Dichondra is the best choice. If the planting area receives some sun or even filtered light, Native Violet will suit. For full sun, choices are Lawn Thyme, Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’, No Mow Zoysia or Mondo Grass.
2) PLANTING SEASON. Planting during the growing season will achieve the best results. To maximise the amount of growing season available for the plant rhizomes/stolons to grow and coalesce, planting in spring is ideal. This is particularly so for No Mow Zoysia Grass, which can be slow to establish. Avoid planting in the dead heat of summer unless you can water extensively until the plants establish. If you must plant in Winter, increase planting density to compensate for slow growth rates.
3) WEED REMOVAL. If the area you intend to plant out has had other plants and weeds growing in that same space before then there is a chance that there would be weed seed in the soil. If possible, this can be reduced by preventing weeds from seeding in the planting area in the seasons leading up to planting out with Lawn Plugs. Ideally, undertake a number of weed spraying cycles, timing spraying to occur before and weed sets seed.
4) SOIL PREPARATION. A well-prepared planting zone is a key to success with Lawn Plugs. Ideally, the entire planting area will be a well cultivated (to at least 5cm) loam, however, this is not essential. As a minimum preparation should include some cultivation around the planting zone as described in step 6 below. For soils low in organic matter and/or high in clay content, a commercial potting mix or garden soil can be incorporated around each planting hole to improve soil properties and encourage strong plant growth.
5) PLANTING DENSITY CALCULATION. Calculate the planting density required based on the situation. This will depend upon species selected, season, budget, maintenance schedule and desired timeframe for complete coverage. For rapid growing species such as Lawn Thyme, Dichondra and Native Violet, in well-maintained areas planted at the start of a growing season, densities of 5 to 7 plants per square metre would suffice. For slow growing No Mow Zoysia Grass or Mondo grass, planting densities of 10 to 20 plants per square metre may be desirable.
6) PLANTING. Dig furrows with a tyned implement such as mattock, hoe or even a rake. Furrow depth should be minimum 5cm, ideally 7cm. Plant in furrows to achieve plant density required. Off set plugs in alternate furrows, rather like brickwork, to form an organic mosaic pattern rather than a planting grid as seen in the planting diagram. Pre-water both plugs and soil prior to planting. Remove Lawn Plugs from trays and plant in small batches, rather than placing many pugs in rows ahead of planting and risking plugs drying out. Be sure to keep any plants still in trays or tubes well watered prior to planting.
7) FERTILISING. Slow release fertiliser can be included in the planting hole or sprinkled directly around the plant. Avoid fertilising the soil surface between the plants by broadcasting fertiliser, as this will encourage weed growth.
8) WATERING. As much as practical, keep the plant growing medium and surrounds soil moist to a depth of 5cm. Depending on weather conditions, this may involve watering for short periods several times a day for a few days after which watering can be tapered off over a few weeks to once a week or as needed to keep the plants actively growing. Regular watering will keep the roots of the plants alive and actively growing, moisten surrounding soil so the plant roots can spread.
9) MAINTENANCE. No matter how well prepared the soil or fast growing the plant species selected, weeds will grow and plant losses may occur. Regular maintenance, particularly during establishment, will reduce both of these. Weeds can be removed by hand weeding, keeping soil disturbance to a minimum. If the zone between Lawn Plugs is sufficient, and with considerable care, weeds can be sprayed. Some sprayers have a cover around the nozzle to reduce spray drift. Alternatively, plants can be covered with pots or similar to protect from over spray. To prevent tall weeds seeding, they can be mown at a setting height that will not damage the plants. Regular maintenance will be required until the plants start to spread and provide a uniform cover. Once established, maintenance will be minimal and may include some hand weeding, repair of worn patches or trimming.