Get up to speed quickly on which turf type is right for you

August 15, 2018

THE IMPORTANCE OF LIGHT AND SHADE

Different turf varieties do different things. That is why it is essential when specifying turf that you get the right advice. This will ensure you get the right turf solution the first time and save on costly mistakes.

All turf varieties love direct sunlight but one of the biggest factors in determining which turf is going to perform in an area is ‘Shade’. The reason for this is that different turf varieties have varying levels of ‘Shade tolerance’. Let’s look at three very popular varieties Zoysia, Sir Walter Buffalo, Wintergreen Couch and Oz Tuff Sports Couch.

Wintergreen Couch has very little shade tolerance requiring 7-8 hours direct sunlight every day. It has a fine leaf 2mm-3mm which means it catches less sunlight than some other varieties. Without the correct amount of direct sunlight Wintergreen Couch will suffer which can allow weeds to develop, browning of the leaves and in worst case death of the plant.

Oz Tuff Australian Couch has similar shade tolerance to Wintergreen so is very much a ‘Full Sun’ turf.

In contrast to this is Sir Walter Buffalo which is one of the most shade tolerant varieties of turf. Sir Walter can perform exceptionally well with only 2-3 hours of direct sunlight per day. This ability allows Sir Walter to grow in places other varieties can’t. The reason that Sir Walter can do this is the width of its leaf. It has a broad leaf 8mm-9mm which catches more sunlight in a shorter space of time.

Now, Zoysia is what we call ‘Semi-shade tolerant’ as it can handle up to half the day in shade. Zoysia only requires 4-5 hours direct sunlight per day to look its best and so it can be viewed as a great ‘All-rounder’. Zoysia has a medium size leaf 5mm-7mm.

palmetto soft leaf buffalo grass 5.1 - CT Lawns

So, there’s all your lawn, turf and grass problems solved! Right?

Not quite but you’ve now made a big step towards sourcing the right turf product for your project.

DIFFERENT TURF TYPES GROWTH RATE

The next item on the agenda is ‘Growth rate’. Again, different turf varieties have different levels.

Wintergreen Couch is a vigorous grower which means it does require a lot of mowing, particularly during the hotter months of the year. It also means that it can thatch very quickly if not mowed regularly enough to keep it at its most healthy. The rapid growth rate does have some advantages such as its ability to repair itself quickly. Like all grasses its growth rate slows during the cooler months.

Another vigorous grower is Sir Walter Buffalo. This enables it to have its hardiness and self-repairing nature but does mean that it requires a lot of mowing during the hotter months.

Oz Tuff grows at a slower rate than Wintergreen which means less mowing than the Wintergreen.

ZOYSIA SAVES TIME, MONEY AND IS BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

Zoysia is very different. It has a slow growth rate. It is still a hardy turf but can take a bit longer to repair itself. However, the slow rate has very big advantages. It means that you only need to mow it about one third of the amount that you would the Wintergreen or Sir Walter. That is a big difference which saves time and money and is also better for the environment as you’ll burn less mower fuel.

HEAT AND DROUGHT RESISTANCE

Australian Lawn Concepts Turf Farm is in Boyland which is between Brisbane and Gold Coast in South East Queensland. This means that we experience a range of different weather conditions. Our turf varieties must be able to withstand these conditions. That is why heat and drought resistant turf is high on the agenda.  Wintergreen Couch, Oz Tuff, Sir Walter Buffalo and Zoysia are all heat and drought tolerant grasses. Zoysia, for example, has a deep root system which means it can extract water from deeper in the soil. It also has an excellent self-defense mechanism against drought where it can enter a dormant stage. It can shut down its leaves which allows more resource to be channeled to its essential structures such as roots, rhizomes and stolons. Zoysia can use Osmotic adjustment which allows it to remain functional for longer and limits damage. Zoysia also produces proteins when exposed to drought conditions which protect the plant allowing it to survive. When the drought is over Zoysia can quickly return to its non-drought state and flourish as normal. It really is an amazing plant which makes an amazing lawn.

All these varieties can bounce back quickly when drought conditions subside. We always advise that during these conditions the grass be mowed higher as this helps the plants to retain water, increase protection from its own shade and remain stronger and greener for longer.

WEED RESISTANCE

Weeds can be a very big problem in lawns, particularly if left untreated.

As you’ve guessed different turfs have different resistance to weeds. Wintergreen doesn’t have such a dense structure as say the Sir Walter or Zoysia and so it allows weeds to penetrate to the soil and establish much easier. However, spraying the weeds is a simple process if you use the correct herbicide. Wintergreen has no known problems when using the common selective herbicides that are readily available.

These herbicides are in general developed to target broad leaf weeds which means they cannot be used on Sir Walter Buffalo. Therefore, if you do get a weed or two in your Sir Walter then you need to use an herbicide which is safe to use on this variety. Always check the label.

Zoysia is very weed resistant as it has a dense leaf and root structure. It is best to hand weed any that appear. However, weeds are easily treated as it handles most lawn herbicides. Always check the label.

WEED RESISTANT LAWNS ARE GREAT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

The great advantage of weed resistant lawns are they are very good for the environment in that weed killer usage is reduced or eliminated altogether. Zoysia lawns are even better for the environment because slow growing means less mowing which means less fuel burned. Zoysia’ slow growing nature also means it requires less water. Environmentally friendly turf!

SO WHICH TURF FOR WHICH APPLICATIONS?

Wintergreen Couch can be used for residential, commercial, public areas and sports applications. However, always be aware of its low shade tolerance.

Oz Tuff is ideal for many sports applications such as football ovals, cricket fields and the turf can be washed for cricket wickets and tennis courts. It can also be used for residential, commercial and public areas. It is great for play areas and parks along the foreshore because of its salt tolerance. Again, always be aware of it low shade tolerance.

Sir Walter Buffalo is a great choice for residential, commercial and public areas. Especially if the areas are affected by shade.

Zoysia is an excellent hard-to-beat choice for residential, commercial, public and certain sports such as golf courses.

When specifying turf, it is the same as specifying anything else, speak to the experts who are passionate, have great experience and a proven track record.

Craig Powell

CT Lawns

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