There are many types of grass available for a variety of Australian conditions. But being a warmer country, the bulk of these are warm season varieties, suited to hotter climates. To a lot of Australians, grass is grass and it’s as simple as that. But for those in the professional gardening business, or those who just like to pay particular attention to their yard, a lawn is more than a big green patch.
Choosing the right type of grass for your location and climate will save you money in the long run. To figure out which type of grass is best for you, you have to consider several factors, such as:
- How much foot traffic does your lawn get?
- Do you have pets?
- Is the site shaded, or in full sun?
- Do you live in an area with high rainfall or a drier climate?
- What type of soil do you have?
To make the right decision, make sure you consider the pros and cons of each grass variety and assess whether the grass variety is suitable for your property’s location and your usage requirements. It is important that you make an informed decision to avoid acquiring the incorrect grass variety for your needs as this will incur additional costs to replace the grass.
There are a number of different grass types and species that have characteristics that are ideal for lawns. Firstly, to categorize the different types of grass they are separated into either warm season or cool season varieties. In Australia, warm season grasses are suited to northern areas and cool season grasses to the far south.
Warm Season Varieties include: Couch, kikuyu, buffalo and zoysia.
Cool Season Varieties include: Fescue, Ryegrass
The Most Common Grass Types in Australia
Aside from their lovely appearance, these grass species are easier to maintain in the local climate and soil conditions, making them a smart option for property owners.
1. SOFT LEAF BUFFALO GRASS
Perhaps the most commonly known grass in Australia is Buffalo grass. Soft-Leaf Buffalo have a broader leaf blade, are highly durable, easy to maintain and new varieties are soft to touch in comparison to older scratchy varieties. Those days are long past, we the introduction of many quality Soft Leaf Buffalo lawn types. These new soft Buffalo grasses are no longer irritating, are very soft and inviting for play, and can make a beautiful, lush lawn when cared for properly.
I) The Matilda Buffalo Grass
For the best against wear and tear, Matilda grass is what you need. When your backyard is going to undergo plenty of foot traffic, such as kids, pets, running and so forth, then this type of buffalo grass is for you.
II) The Palmetto Buffalo Grass
The most durable and highly rated buffalo grass on the market, Palmetto grass has a very high drought tolerance, can withstand heat and cool changes, and can recover quickly. No need to worry about this grass being exposed year round.
III) The Sapphire Buffalo Grass
Perhaps the most shade tolerant buffalo grass on the market, Sapphire works well in the sun, will develop low levels of thatch and will maintain its colour.
IV) The Sir Walter Buffalo Grass
Throughout the year, Sir Walter grass will always maintain its colour. It can withstand decent shade levels and works well against wear and tear. Not the most durable type of grass, but does its job.
An attractive feature of Buffalo grass is the fact that it’s rather durable, and easy to grow and maintain. Buffalo grass does well in both summer and winter, and is adept at handling the extremes brought by all times of year. It also has self-repairing qualities, making it ideal for high-traffic situations such as a family yard.
2. ZOYSIA GRASS
Zoysia have a fine leaf blade but is slightly wider than couch, tapering along the blade to a tip. It also has a dense growth providing it with a high wear resistance.
It’s known for being incredibly soft, with no chance of irritating or scratching the skin. It also grows incredibly slowly, making it attractive for those who aren’t a huge fan of mowing. Slow growth also means that managing potential invasion of surrounding garden beds is made much easier.
Zoysia is an incredibly tough variety of grass. It is suitable for those tougher, weather conditions; ideal for Coastal gardens, dry climates, around swimming pools, sports fields and schools. However its slow-growing nature means that if it does become damaged, it will take longer than other grasses to repair itself. Zoysia does well in all seasons; however it’s slightly more susceptible to browning if drought conditions arrive.
3. KIKUYU GRASS
Though not native to Australia (originally from Kenya), this grass has grown to be a beloved grass variety in warm areas. Kikuyu grass is the most economical option.
Kikuyu is a quick growing grass, and is amazingly to tolerant to even the most average of soils. The drawback with this is that it is fast-growing, and can also become invasive, and you may find yourself mowing a fair bit over summer. Kikuyu has a medium leaf width, a bright green leaf colour, is quite soft, and loves the heat, the humidity and full sun.
However, Kikuyu is very popular in parks and ovals, and for homes with heavy wear and tear requirements for the lawn, such as having large dogs and busy hard-playing kids.
The only downside? It can’t deal with shade.
4. COUCH GRASS
Couch grass is an easy-going and cheaper grass which can make for a great-looking lawn when treated correctly. It holds up against wear and tear, and is capable of repairing itself rather quickly due to its vigorous underground runners. However these runners can quickly creep under fences, into garden beds and other areas which are not our lawn. This happens because of the vigorous underground runners which this grass is known for.
Couch requires regular lawn mowing in the warmer months, and de-thatching when necessary is also a good idea. Care should be taken in warmer months to mow it regularly, and to fertilize and nourish it in colder months. Otherwise, it can quickly become straggly, bare and unsightly.
It is ideal for a high traffic or high play area.
5. FESCUE GRASS
Tall Fescue is a popular choice for “instant lawns”, which are when pre-grown grass is rolled out on top of soil or pre-existing grass. It’s an incredibly indiscriminate type of grass. Grown in cool climate areas it copes well with both sun and shade. It’s a deep-rooted grass variety which makes it more drought tolerant than other cool season varieties. However, it doesn’t have the drought tolerance of the warm season grasses and does enjoy a good watering.
Tall Fescue can cope with moderate levels of traffic, being relatively hardy and durable. However it’s not quite as durable as other grasses on this list, such as Zoysia and Kikuyu. So it is probably not ideal for those with pets or active lifestyles.
6. QUEENSLAND BLUE COUCH
For a grass that will excel in hot, humid conditions, Queensland Blue Couch is the answer. The downfalls of normal Couch – invasiveness, regularly required mowing and fertilizing – can be forgotten.
That’s because Queensland Blue Couch isn’t actually a Couch grass. Nor is it from Queensland. It’s actually an entirely different variety, with blades that are closest to those of a Zoysia. It has good all year round colour that treads the line between green and blue, hence the name.
A possible concern is it’s quite sensitive to weed killers, so help from lawn specialists may be necessary if you deal with weeds growing on your Queensland Blue Couch lawn.
7. RYE GRASS
A cool season turf, Perennial Ryegrass is a popular choice of grass in cooler climates the world over. It’s a beautiful addition to any suitable backyard, with a rich, dark green blade, and a great tolerance to shade. The ability for the Ryegrass to grow strongly through the cooler months – from mid-autumn through to late spring – allows it to cover for grasses that may not be as well suited to the conditions served up by the winters in temperate parts of Australia.
Being a cool season grass it can start to struggle during warmer months, and does get particularly thirsty through spring and summer. A heavy watering schedule over these months is advised to keep your lawn looking healthy.
Perennial Ryegrass also requires regular fertilization, and ideally a bi-monthly spread of a high quality fertilizer should be applied.
It is a fast grower, and will need to be regularly mowed over the fast growing period of spring/early summer.
Ideal Grass Type Chart
When choosing a grass variety for your lawn, it can be hard to know which is the best option. No grass type is perfect – they all have their advantages and disadvantages. Whilst no grass type is perfect all round, there will be a perfect choice for you and your circumstances.
|Where You Live||For Extensive Shading||For Sun|
|Adelaide||Tall Fescue||Fescue Kentucky Bluegrass Couch|
|Brisbane||Buffalo Creeping Fescue Tall Fescue||Qld Blue Couch Couch|
|Canberra||Tall Fescue Ryegrass||Tall Fescue Ryegrass|
|Darwin||Couch Carpet Grass||Bahia Grass Couch|
|Melbourne||Ryegrass Bluegrass Tall Fescue||Fescue Ryegrass Couch|
|Perth||Tall Fescue Ryegrass||Couch Saltwater Couch|
|Sydney||Fescue Ryegrass Couch||Buffalo Kikuyu Couch|
Tips and tricks
To ensure your grass looks good here are some tips to follow:
- Before putting in a new lawn, consider installing sub-surface drip irrigation. Connect this to a computerized timer fitted with a moisture sensor and you’ll never have to think about watering again!
- Some spots just aren’t right for lawns, needing a plant or landscape solution instead. Too shady, too wet or too dry, high levels of foot or even vehicle traffic are all examples of why you may want to consider gardens or paths instead of persisting with a lawn.
- When is the best time to prepare for a new lawn? This can vary greatly depending on where you live but the best rule of thumb is to avoid extremes of temperature while the lawn is establishing. Spring to early Summer and late Summer to early Autumn are considered best in most climates.
Frequently Asked Question
- What are the most common identifiers for grass types?
Some of the most common identifiers for grass types are: Leaf blade. Colour. Vernation. Ligule. Runners.
- What are the most common grass types in Australia?
The most common types of grass in Australia are: Buffalo, Kikuyu, Couch, Zoysia, Fescue and Rye grasses.
- How do I choose a grass type?
To make the right decision, make sure you consider the pros and cons of each grass variety and assess whether the grass variety is suitable for your property’s location and your usage requirements.
Successful lawns are a product of the right location, right type of grass and methodical maintenance. Like any crop, turf needs cultivation. The best lawns are established from scratch, and it’s easier and preferable to replace a poor lawn than to resurrect one. Good maintenance involves paying as much attention to the condition of the soil as to the turf itself.