One of the most common problems for under-performing lawns is the situation it is placed in. There are many reasons for this, from poor selection of variety, poor soil type, wear and shade to name a few. There are three things to keep in mind when choosing the right turf for your lawn.
The right turf variety needs to be selected from the start. Consideration needs to be given to not only the immediate surrounding factors but also give some thought to what the garden might be like in 5 years. What might appear to be a sunny area now might, once the garden has grown, be in shade. As a general rule of thumb, couch grasses need at least half a days full sun in order to keep a lick cover. Buffalo grasses, on the other hand, will grow in sun and up to 70% shade or filtered light, some of the zoysias, whilst not as common in the market place, will also handle a little shade. It does not matter what variety you choose, a healthy lawn must be established and maintained. Couch will grow thin and wispy (see picture below) when it is not getting enough light and is easily identifiable. A thick, healthy lawn will keep good cover and does not let weeds and unwanted nasty stuff through. What sometimes seems the dearer option, does end up in the long run, to be cheaper. As an example: putting couch in an area that will be eventually shaded will result in an expensive remove and replace exercise.
2. Soil Type
Ideally, a good free draining soil will promote turf growth, especially if you start with a heavier soil or clay. If a heavy clay is the base, then spreading lime or gypsum beforehand will help raise the Ph of the soil. Lime can also be used if soil has been damp for long periods and moss starts to grow. Drain the area, replace with some good soil, spread some lime and choose the correct turf.
an example of where lime needs to be used
It also helps to aerate the soil once a year by hiring a machine or using a pitch fork when the ground is soft, once again, a little lime will go a long way on a yearly basis and works hand in hand with fertilization every 3-4 months for a healthy lawn.
Turf is hardy, it is reactive to drought, flood and grows all over the world from beside the sea, the tropics and colder climates. However, it does wear out. As a plant, is gets damaged but it does repair quickly in some instances, with the right variety. Be careful where you use turf, obviously a turf path from the shed to the back door is not going to work. Turf also wears better if it’s in full sun. Turf wears quicker in shady areas. As a general rule, couch wears out quicker but repairs quicker, buffalo is sturdier but takes longer to repair. This same rule of thumb applies to drought stress as well, when the grass goes brown, and then green again.
About The Author
Tony is a second generation turf farmer, after his parents, who started the farm in the early 80’s. Originally a carpenter by trade, Tony then ran his own bobcat hire and landscaping business before becoming involved in Caboolture Turf in 2003.
Since joining the farm, Tony has been recognized with the Federal Governments, Young Rural Leaders Scheme which selects 30 of the best under 30-year-old rural leaders to spend a week in Canberra. He has also been President of QLD Turf Producers Association, a director of Turf Australia and the Australian Centre for Lifestyle Horticulture. Tony still sits on the Turf Australia Marketing Committee and Industry Advisory Council board for Turf Australia.