Following on from my previous post about how to grow a lawn from seed, it dawned on me that I had completely forgotten to mention there are alternatives to grass seed. In fact, every time I start a new patch of lawn I also plant grass runners.
For me personally there are a number of reasons why I do this.
- Instant gratification. With grass runners there is no waiting time, as opposed to seed germination. You can see a result immediately
- Planting something that is already growing is usually very effective and speeds up the process of creating a lawn
- It’s fun taking something out of the ground that is going to help grow a new patch of grass
- I own the lawn. I can look back and think about how I have actually planted each runner and feel like I have accomplished something as opposed to just spreading around seed, or laying turf that someone else has grown
- Also enormous satisfaction watching the grass grow and spread
Don’t want to plant seed – Try some grass runners
Depending on what type of grass you have growing in your area, it is usually quite easy to collect some grass runners. I have naturally occurring Kikuyu grass everywhere and they just love sending out runners, so for me it is very easy. I turn my back and new ones have grown.
I also collect runners as they like taking over areas where I don’t want grass. Mainly over garden beds and the edges of rock gardens, so they are always the first to go.
I have just sown half an acre of land with new grass seed, but I also planted hundreds of runners. I love doing this because there is some instant green grass on your lonely patch of dirt.
Removing the runners – without killing them
Ok, so you are going to collect some runners. Very importantly, if you are going to do this in the heat of the day, make sure you put them straight into a bucket of water. With Kikuyu grass, the runners literally spread out like feelers anywhere and everywhere. I just cut small lengths of these, approximately 10 – 20 cm long as there are roots literally every few centimetres and there is a really good chance you are going to get good results.
If the runners are growing along the top of garden edges, ie. not growing in the dirt, it is very easy, just chop them off in lengths. However if the runners are already growing in the dirt, you can just simply rip them out of the ground or use a small hand spade to loosen the dirt. I am never very delicate with runners, they are remarkably hardy. Remember to put them straight into a bucket of water, or if the temperature is cooler and there is no sun, you can leave the roots exposed but not for too long.
Most grasses send out runners of some kind as well as propagate with seed naturally, however this method of collecting new runners is the same for all grasses.
Planting the runners – successful transplants
When I plant runners, I always use a small hand spade. I make a small 1 – 2 inch deep hole or trenches relative to the size of the runner. Ensure all roots are planted in the hole and cover with dirt. Always pat the soil down, or use your foot to just firm up the ground as I do. It’s that simple.
Maintenance and watering – it’s so easy
After planting always give your transplanted runners a drink of water. No need to drown them, but as long as the water is getting to the roots, that is all that is required.
I usually water all my new runners every day for the first 3 days and then after that I go purely by watching the grass and watering when I think they look dry or are wilting, or possibly turning a bit yellow. You will always get some that won’t take very easily, but usually come back after a while.
A week ago I followed this same method. Half of the runners stayed green for days and some of them turned a bit yellow, but I watered them daily and they are all green now and have amazingly already taking hold.
Watch it spread – Quick results
The good part about planting runners is that you are literally half way to your new lawn already. There is no waiting around for seeds to germinate and no wondering if the seed is even going to come up.
The Kikuyu that I have on my property can spread up to 1 metre squared in a month with proper watering in the summer months. That’s pretty fast and most common grasses grow nearly as fast.
You should be mowing in no time.