There are a few native grasses that can make excellent lawn grasses. Although some require a little more care and maintenance when establishing and require more patience if beginning from seed it is now possible to buy native turf, making it a lot easier to establish your own native lawn. There are now companies who supply native grass seed and turf products, making it possible to create a formal style lawn and garden using nothing but native plants and grasses.
Weeping grass is the most versatile and low maintenance of the native grasses and can be used to create a soft, lush lawn with the same visual appeal as the more traditional introduced lawn grasses. It is a very tough and drought-resistant grass, tolerating frost also. It is partially shade tolerant, and medium wearing, so it is not as well suited to high traffic areas. It should be sown quite thickly to create a lush thick lawn or can now be purchased commercially from native turf suppliers.
The types of grass traditionally used for Australian lawns in temperate regions are mostly warm season grasses. These grow rapidly during spring and summer and very little during the cooler months.
- Couch Grass - Couch grass is hardy and quite drought tolerant. It is a tough and hard wearing grass if grown in full sun, and is a good low maintenance choice for lawns that get a lot of foot traffic or wear and tear. There are hybrid couch grasses available with partial shade tolerance.
- Soft-leaf Buffalo Grass - Soft-leafed varieties of Buffalo grass are an excellent choice for Australian lawns. These grasses maintain great colour year round, have good drought tolerance and high wear tolerance, these fine-leafed grasses make a beautifully soft lawn and are low maintenance.
- Zoysia Japonica - Zoysia grass makes a very attractive and lush lawn once established. This grass has better shade tolerance than most and good drought tolerance. This grass is great for low traffic areas and partial shade. It is a medium maintenance grass which can be slightly more costly than others to establish. It does not tolerate low temperatures, turning brown at temperatures below 10oC which makes it unsuitable for frost prone areas.
There are some cool season grasses that are popular in cooler climates such as Victoria, these grasses grow much more slowly and will continue to grow year round. They are typically less drought tolerant and therefore less suited to Australian lawns.
- Tall Fescue - This is an extremely versatile cool season grass, which makes an attractive thick lawn and tolerates a wide range of soil types. One of the benefits is that it is non invasive as it produces no runners so will not become a pest. It makes a medium maintenance lawn, requiring more frequent mowing than other types of grass. Tolerates moderate foot traffic so unsuited to heavy wear areas, this grass is only moderately drought resistant so is best for cooler areas.
About the author
Angus Stewart is the author of several horticutural books including "Creating an Australian Garden". Angus also appears regularly on Australian television and radio shows. Angus's website is called "Gardening with Angus".