How to Identify Lawn Grass Types Know Your Buffalo from Your Zoysia
Here in Australia we are fortunate enough to experience long golden summers, with the smell of the weekend barbie and a good dose of street cricket over the weekend; but cast your eye down just about any Aussie street and there is one key ingredient you’ll see that can make the difference between a good Aussie weekend and a great Aussie weekend; And that’s a well-kept lawn.
How do you achieve king of the culdesac status when it comes to your lawn? It all comes down to 3 things: grass type, preparation before laying your turf, and ongoing maintenance. Without a doubt, the key that will unlock your perfectly manicured kingdom starts with knowing what grass types are available and selecting a suitable variant to fit both your location (climate) and soil conditions.
Identifying grass types
There’s an almost unlimited variety of grass types, but you’ll find that here in Australia, there are four main types of lawn grasses that dominate most of the East and West Coastlines:
- Buffalo grass
- Kikuyu grass
- Couch grass
- Zoysia grass
Within these individual lawn species, there is a mix of varieties with their own individual characteristics and specific look. It goes without saying that we are spoilt for choice when it comes to grass types.
So here’s what you need to know about the four main grass types and how to maintain them.
Buffalo lawn grass has a long history in Australian backyards and is quickly identified by its very wide leaf that can extend to 7mm or more. When the variety was first introduced, its broad leaf was known to cause irritants with some people. This was particularly common in young infants. Nowadays, Buffalo lawn grass has developed significantly and boasts much softer blades that are kinder to the skin. It’s a durable grass and when maintained correctly becomes lush and creates inviting play areas for children. It fairs well through the winter months when benchmarked against Kikuyu. A fine example of this type of lawn grass is the ever-popular Sir Walter Buffalo grass. This grass has earned its “Sir” status with its premium uniform appearance. Buffalo grass will tolerate shade and high traffic areas and while it copes well with winter months, it’s actually a warm-season grass that only requires low maintenance. Its durability and easy maintenance mean it’s the perfect grass type for people with busy lifestyles.
Some examples of Buffalo grass types to consider are; Sir Walter, Sapphire, Palmetto and Matilda.
Kikuyu lawn grass most likely was the one used across every Aussie backyard in the country right through the 60’s. Today, you can still find it in many a backyard, proving its popularity for home gardeners when planting a lawn out.
So how to recognise this tried and true lawn grass? First, look at the blade of grass. The kikuyu has a medium width – 4mm-7mm – and is coupled with its distinctive colour: a bright, lively green.
A key element to kikuyu lawn grass is its speed of growth. It’s the first out of the gate, and quite lively, requiring regular lawn mowing and maintenance. If you enjoy propelling your mower around for some exercise, this grass type is for you. Alternatively, a robotic mower is perfect for Kikuyus fast growth as its regular cutting schedule means you reap all the benefits of this type of grass without all of its maintenance requirements. Automower® weather timer takes care of mowing time frequency, adjusting for periods of active growth.
Kikuyu grass does well in full sun, so is an excellent choice for lawns that have little overhead coverage from a tree canopy. It’s also worth considering who will be using your lawn; If you have dogs and children, Kikuyu will stand up to being underfoot and responds very well with little water requirement.
Couch lawn grass is a popular choice. It’s an easy grass to care for that can look top-class if the owner decides to give it just a little TLC. If you were walking the neighbourhood admiring everyone’s gardens, you would spot the couch lawn grass by its fine leaf blades and dense growth. Its leaf is much thinner than other grasses, typically under 4mm. Couch is a reliable grass type; however, for it to really shine and give its upper-class look and refined finish, it requires fertilising and regular maintenance such as coring or using a dethatcher. Couch is notorious for not staying in its own space due to the underground runners that break off and reshoot on removal. So our big tip here would be to make sure you have some firm and deep edging in place with your garden beds, discouraging Couch from sprouting where you won’t want it.
Zoysia lawn grass seems to tick all the boxes. It’s drought-tolerant and good in the heat, which is a big plus with the Australian climate. It requires less attention; typically, less mowing is required, lower fertiliser volumes, and it can be left alone in winter. However, it does grow thick, which will require you to spend some time aerating and dethatching in spring. If you live in a cold climate, we don’t recommend Zoysia grass types, as they really do their best work in warmer climates. But in warmer temperatures, you will really reap the rewards from Zoysia and its soft feel under foot.
To identify Zoysia look carefully at its leaf; it is marginally wider than Couch, leading to a pointy tip. Its leaf size fits between fine and medium at 4mm-7mm. Popular Zoysia varieties include Empire and Emerald Zoysia.
Grass Types for Cooler Weather
Most of the major grass types in Australia are better suited to warmer climates. We are a warm country, after all! But for those living in cooler areas, dominant grass types include Fescue, Rye, Bent Grass and Blue Grass. Note that these cooler lawn grasses will often require watering in the summer months.
Picking the Right Tools
Whether you’ve just completed that new lawn or simply investigating what the best grass type for you will be, Husqvarna has your back when it comes to maintaining your pride and joy. View our full range of mowers, trimmers and more online or visit your local Husqvarna dealer and explore your options today.