Practical Tips for Summer Maintenance | Nara Native Turf Articles

Practical Tips for Summer Maintenance | Nara Native Turf Articles

By Todd Layt

Nara Native Turf, gardens and patio pots can all suffer in our hot Australian summers. Over the years, I have learnt some interesting ways to help get lawns and plants through summer. I have also found some clever techniques to help reduce the work load. Some tips are simply good horticultural practice, whilst others are a little more creative.

The Best Lawn Types

Apart from getting a tougher lawn type, which is usually not an option, there are many techniques that can help get lawns through summer with less damage. Firstly, try raising the lawns mowing height. The theory is that the lawn will handle summer and dryer times more easily. The lawn will become healthier, more robust, and some claim the root system will grow deeper.

Personally, I find this mainly true, but with one proviso; I like to mow my lawn shorter in early spring to help reduce thatch and let it get a little longer as summer approaches. I find this particularly important with a Buffalo lawn. The better varieties of Buffalo grass have superb drought resistance, and a raised summer mowing height helps this (by drought resistant, we mean they take longer to brown off). I find Palmetto Buffalo grass has very good drought resistance. Some types of Buffalo grass, however, have very poor drought resistance, so be careful when assuming you are maintaining a buffalo lawn with good drought resistance.

Turf varieties such as Couch and Empire Zoysia and Nara Native Turf have incredible drought tolerance, meaning they will survive long periods of severe drought, but they will brown off before the good Buffalo grass varieties. If a bad summer sees massive water restrictions and no rain for 2 to 3 months, provided the soil was not extremely sandy, the Couch, Empire Zoysia and Nara Turf will survive and green up when it rains. Of the Buffalo types, only Palmetto Buffalo Grass has proved it can do this.

Palmetto has survived for many years on Windsor road in Western Sydney with just natural rainfall through periods just like this. Under severe drought stress, some buffalo lawn types simply die. The biggest problem with Couch of course is its aggressiveness at running into gardens, its poor shade tolerance and the fact that weeds invade it very easily. Empire turf and Nara Native Turf have none of these problems, although Palmetto has better winter colour than Empire Turf. You’ll find that Empire Turf and Nara Turf need slightly less mowing.

Kikuyu has the same invasive problems of Couch, although even worse. It is not as drought tolerant as Couch Empire and Nara, and not quite as drought resistant as the better Buffalo grasses. Cool season grasses should be avoided all over Australia, except maybe Tasmania. Our hot summers, drought condition, and water restriction, are making them impossible to keep alive. Fescues, Rye grass, Blue grass etc. are on borrowed time in this country.

Summer Maintenance Tips For Lawns

Now that I have explained the differences between the turf types, I can provide some more summer maintenance tips. With Buffalo grass or Kikuyu, try to avoid letting them dry out completely. Sure they can go brown and come back, but even a little water after 2 weeks of summer dry can have a benefit. If you cannot water due to water restrictions, then apart from praying for rain, the following may help.

As I said earlier, read more…

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