Using Native Grasses For Lawns
Native Seeds PL has selectively bred naturally occurring Australian grasses for lawns. There are around 1200 species of native grasses in Australia. Some are big tussocks, and some are small fine plants. Native Seeds PL has selected Australian grass species that are naturally smaller, not as clumpy and have fine leaves. These grasses have been selected for their ability to produce lawns of high quality.
The fourth key lawn varieties are Griffin, Burra, Redgrass and Oxley. Weeping grass, Wallaby grass and Redgrass can form lawns which equal other introduced lawn species in terms of texture and durability. They are drought tolerant and both Weeping grass and Redgrass will grow in shade.
There are several advantages of using native grasses for lawn compared to exotic grasses including:
Low mowing requirements
Australian native grasses have a slower growth rate than the introduced grasses. This is fine, as long as the lawn is not being used for vigorous sports. It also means that the need for mowing is substantially less than that of the introduced grasses. Usually four to 6 times per year is all that is needed.
Low and/or no Fertiliser requirements
Australian native grasses do not require fertiliser as they are well adapted to grow on poor nutrient and shallow soils. Australia is an old continent and therefore has not had new soils for many millions of years, resulting in shallow and poor nutrient soils.
Native grasses have evolved on these poor quality soils and can tolerate shallow soils, soils low in the essential elements, and soils that are low in organic matter. Due to this evolutionary history Australian native grass lawns do not require fertiliser under normal conditions.
Drought and Heat Tolerant
Australian native grasses have lower water requirements than introduced lawns and better heat tolerance. The roots of native grasses grow deeper each year, improving the soil and storing carbon.
Redgrass roots are known to grow down 2 metres in hard cracking clay.
Death is a common occurrence with the introduced lawn types, such as ryegrass, in dry years and when hot summers have parched the soil. Introduced grass lawns need to be resowed following drought so that they do not thin out entirely.
By comparison Australian native grasses consist of species that have been adapted to the extreme temperature and drought. Most species are perennial will not need resowing and indeed may even thrive and thicken up under drought conditions.
All year green colour
Many Australian native grass species are summer active and remain green during times introduced species brown off. Drought and heat have been a part of Australia’s history for hundreds of thousands of years. Hot and relentless summers have occurred very regularly throughout Australia’s history. Australian native grasses have evolved with these conditions and developed adaptations to survive and thrive in heat and drought.
Eleni describes her experience on growing a lawn in heavy shade
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Thank you very much for the new manual that you have sent me, your third edition. I think it is an excellent publication, with a very high standard of both presentation and information. Your photos are clear and helpful, including those showing both individual grasses and lawns.
Author of The Australian Garden &The Australian Garden: Designing with Australian Plants
Griffin Weeping grass (Microlaena stipoides var. Griffin) lawn at full height
Wallaby grass (Rytidosperma geniculatum var. Oxley) lawn at full height
Australian native grasses can grow on deeply cracking clay soils
Red grass (Bothriochloa macra) growing on deeply cracking clay