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Warm and Cool Season Lawn Grasses

Posted in Garden Advice on July 19, 2017

Lawn Grasses for NZ 

New Zealand has both warm and cool regions. Lawns are most commonly of cool season grasses but in warm regions, particularly coastal areas, warm season grasses can be used for lawns.

Cool Season Grass

Cool season grasses are suitable for cooler areas and where the lawns can be maintained. They can tolerate partial shade and do most of their growing when the temperature ranges from 16°C to 24°C. But they tend to stop growth and can brown off easily in hot dry conditions in mid-summer, so they must be tended and watered to maintain their green look in such conditions.

Common Cool Season Grasses:

  • Ryegrass
  • Fescue
  • Browntop

LawnPro Smart Seed contains a blend of creeping red fescue and perennial ryegrass seed with seed starter fertilisers, gypsum and water storage granules.

LawnPro Lawn Thickener contains a blend of fescue, ryegrass and browntop seeds with a special coating to improve water retention and germination.

LawnPro Smart Patch Mix contains AquaGel coated perennial ryegrass, fertiliser, soil improver and water storage granules.

About the cool-season grasses:

  • Red/fine fescue (Festuca rubra spp.) is a group of fine-bladed grasses with a deep green colour. It does not require much fertiliser and is tolerant of drought.
  • Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) is coarser and more hard wearing than red or fine fescue.
  • Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) is a fine-textured, rich green grass. It has a high tolerance for cold temperatures.
  • Browntop (Agrotis capillaris) is a fine-textured, bluish-green grass. It is tolerant of low fertility soils and has a low growth habit requiring less mowing.

Warm Season Grass

Warm-season grasses grow best with full sun at temperatures between 27°C and 30°C. Warm-season grasses will stay green in hot dry conditions but they are not tolerant of cool or shade and the grass leaves tend to be coarse so these grasses do not produce a fine lawn.

Warm-season grasses are often regarded as weeds when they invade fine turf lawns.

Common Warm Season Grasses:

  • Couch/Twitch (Cynodon dactylon) is also known as Bermudagrass.  It is normally only used as a lawn grass in the warmer parts of northern New Zealand and prefers dry, warm and sunny areas rather than shady areas.
  • Kikuyu (Pennisetum clandesinium) is common in warmer northern and coastal areas of North Island New Zealand. This species is extremely durable, hard wearing and drought tolerant.
  • Buffalo (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is tolerant of shade. Soft-leaf buffalo grasses do well in sandy, lightly salty, or alkaline soils.

See When to Sow Grass Seed

David Brittain

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