Choosing the Right Turf for Your Lawn

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.

1. Selection

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.

 deciding on the best turf for your lawn Couch in Shade 1

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

choosing the right grass for your area

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.

3. Wear

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.

choosing the right turf for your lawn buffallo grass

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.

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  • Reply
    The Grass is Greener: It’s the Australian Way (plus giveaway)
    December 16, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    […] This is a true example of where the newer variety of buffalo is a better choice (than the original couch).  Quality advice from a Turf farmer, can save a lot of money (and hassles) in the long run. For more information about how to choose the right type of your grass for your lawn, visit this post: Choosing the Right Turf for your Lawn. […]

  • Reply
    Maggie Allen
    September 15, 2016 at 1:51 am

    It’s good to know that turf wears out more quickly in shady areas. My husband and I are in the middle of planning our backyard landscape, so we’ve been wondering exactly where to put turf. It sounds like we might need to get rid of a few trees in the yard in order to ensure that the lawn will always look nice. After all, I don’t want a dead lawn!

  • Reply
    Zachary Tomlinson
    December 11, 2022 at 9:50 am

    It’s great to learn that investing in the right turf can help you improve the appearance of your garden a lot. My friend is looking for landscape upgrades that he can use to boost his home’s curb appeal. I should probably relay this idea to him so he’d consider artificial turf as an option!

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