Monthly Archives: December 2012

Why Are Zoysias Better Than Buffalo grasses?

Why are Zoysias better than Buffalo grasses?

It is a common preconception that Buffalo turf is the best available turf on the market today. However, recent research and findings on Zoysia grasses have found that this is not quite the case, and Zoysia can actually outperform Buffalo in many aspects.

The most popular Zoysia’s on the market today are Empire and Nara Native turf, both bred, trialled and delivered by Ozbreed. Recent research on these varieties and common buffalo varieties have shown outstanding results for Zoysia grasses. The most interesting being that Zoysias can tolerate chemical control. For example, if the highly invasive Kikuyu gets into Buffalo, unfortunately there are no sprays available on the market that will not kill off your Buffalo turf. Zoysia’s however can be sprayed with readily available chemicals currently on the market, and will survive the treatment. This means that you can protect your Zoysia grass from a common Kikuyu invasion. Research has found that Zoysia’s are also resistant to Army Worm and Web Worm and significantly less damaged by Black Beetle.

Nara Native Turf™ (Zoysia macrantha ‘MAC03’ PBR) is a beautiful fine textured lawn that survives on much less water than other varieties. The Department of Primary Industries stated that Native Zoysia’s are more drought tolerant than Couch, Kikuyu, and Buffalo turf. Nara generally maintains a stunning evergreen colour throughout summer and winter. Recent studies have shown if fertilised well in autumn and winter, Nara will provide consistent green colour throughout winter in many parts of Australia, performing as good as, if not better than other Buffalo varieties. Being a native grass to Australia, with vigorous deep rhizomes, Nara has had millions of years to grow and adapt to our hot dry and humid climates, making it far more drought tolerant than all the other varieties that come from wetter overseas climates. Australia’s famous heavy rain storms have rendered Nara more tolerant of wet feet than Kikuyu, Buffalo and Couch. Nara is fast establishing, easy to grow, performs well around garden beds and requires a lot less mowing and edging than your average lawn. With incredibly low maintenance levels such as this, Nara has become very popular and is widely used on commercial projects and roadsides.

Empire™ (Zoysia japonica ‘SS500 PBR’) is a lovely soft fine textured lawn with deep green colour that looks stunning. Empire is a very low maintenance turf, requiring 2 to 3 times less mowing and less edging than most Buffalo, Couch and Kikuyu varieties. This fact alone can dramatically reduce maintenance costs, specifically if you are hiring a contractor or paying staff to maintain your lawn. It will thrive in any tough climatic condition including drought, humidity and even extreme wet conditions. Empire is also very hard wearing and waterwise, making it an excellent choice for home gardeners and landscapers Australia wide.

In summary, research has also found that Zoysia’s in general are lower in maintenance, are naturally far more lawn grub resistant, more wear tolerant and far better in value. As Zoysia’s will only tolerate up to 40% shade, Buffalos are still the best choice of lawn for areas with more than 40% shade. Zoysia’s also have outstanding winter colour and a very quick spring green up if fertilised well in autumn and winter. So not only all-rounder outstanding performers, Zoysia’s have many qualities and attributes that are far more superior to Buffalo varieties, and should not be overlooked when considering a new lawn.

You can find more information on Empire turf here, and more information on Nara Native here.

Buffalo turf

How To Heat Proof Your Garden

How To Heat Proof Your Garden

With a hot summer ahead, how can you prepare and look after your garden so it survives high heat loads?

Winter of 2012 was one of the driest on record and this trend is expected to continue throughout the forthcoming summer. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) rated chances of below normal rainfall levels at 60-75%, and the outlook for temperatures across Australia are likely to exceed the median maximum temperature by at least 60% in most Australian states, and over 75% in our tropical regions.

With such a strong prediction for a very hot summer ahead, the importance of using drought tolerant plants and turf, and looking after them, has never been greater. Ozbreed have been breeding and trailing many successful drought tolerant plants and turf for years, and have found proven success with a number of cultivars such as Lomandras, Dianellas, Westringias and Callistemons. All of these breeds are super forgiving when charged with high heat loads.

With a hot summer ahead, how can you prepare and look after your garden so it survives high heat loads?

When establishing green life in your garden, you can give it a helping hand. Choosing drought tolerant plants and turf, good soil preparation with the right PH level, and using organics mixed into the soil will help the plants survive the drought and hot summers. In most populated areas of Australia, many drought tolerant plants and turf can survive on natural rainfall alone.

Lawns such as Empire Turf, some Couch varieties, and even some Buffalo types such as Palmetto Soft Leaf will survive on natural rainfall through drought and extreme heat load periods.

Native Dianellas like Little Rev, Little Jess , Tasred, and Cassa Blue, and Lomandras such as Tanika and Nyalla are so tough, that in the eastern states they thrive on no irrigation at all. If you are planting exotics or rather more water hungry plants, keep them to one small area of the garden so as to not waste a lot of water.

For more detailed information on drought tolerant plant & turf choice, check out this research.

Once you have installed your waterwise garden, or even for well established gardens, there are many common sense practices that can be employed to make the most out of watering your garden and preventing soil dry out. Wetting agents are also recommended to be applied during spring, to both lawns and gardens.

As always, avoid watering in the heat of the day so as to maximize the water getting into the ground. Mulch is a great water saving device, but only with a chunky coarse grade mulch, with no or very small amounts of fine particles, to help retain the water.

This will let water flow easily into the garden and help significantly limit evaporation of water from the soil. Shade around a garden can also save water and reduce evaporation, either by means of trees or vegetation. Reducing gravel or concrete areas will also keep garden areas cooler and reduce soil dry out.

Avoid pruning in summer months, as pruning stimulates new growth and therefore also increases water requirements. Avoid fertilising in summer as too much nitrogen can be quite harmful to your garden. Recent research has shown that the optimum time to fertilise is in autumn with a slow release fertiliser and/or in early spring with a quick release fertiliser. Also avoid chemicals and treatments in summer.

Always try to mow lawns a little longer in the warmer months as this can have a huge impact on the quality of the lawn. It is best to water your lawn infrequently, but heavily, as this allows the roots to grow much deeper than frequently watered lawns.

Aerating your lawn to allow water to penetrate further is also a good idea, particularly if you have compaction problems – a compact lawn will suffer badly in extreme summer conditions. Keep an eye out for summer bugs such as army worm, web worm and African black beetle. These pests can weaken and devastate a lawn, greatly reducing its ability to survive drought.

It is very important that throughout the remainder of this spring and early summer that you utilise this time to well water your garden, so that it is in optimum position to handle the expected high heat loads yet to come. Simply follow some of the above mentioned practices, and come autumn 2013 your garden should still be thriving, healthy and beautiful.

Recently completed research on ‘Measuring Drought tolerance in plants’ helps landscape architects and designers choose drought tolerant plants based on real world data and accurate measurements. You can find more information on this research here.

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Fire Retardant Plants And How They Can Protect Your Property

Fire Retardant Plants And How They Can Protect Your Property

Did you know that you can reduce your risk by surrounding your home and property with fire retardant plants? Of course, they cannot completely prevent or halt a bush fire from taking hold, however they can reduce an element of risk and perhaps even delay the onset of a catastrophe, allowing more time for further preparation.

Fire retardant plants have been a much debated topic over the years, and there is a great deal of information available online about this topic. Some information is quite reliable, based on opinions and years of experience from farmers. Some however are just pure speculation.

Recently the CSIRO commissioned a study into this subject, testing the ignitability of Australian plants. This study was especially unique in the fact that it is the only scientific study that tested how quickly both dry and moist leaves of certain plants take to ignite. Based on these results, many Ozbreed plants can be recommended as fire retardant, based on their genus and species.

The following is a comprehensive list detailing these plants. However it must be highlighted that any plant can burn when exposed to enough flames and heat, it is just that some are less likely to ignite or may take longer to ignite. For this reason you cannot rely on plant selection alone, but it makes sense to use plants that generally delay their ignition.

Strappy leaf plants

  • Blaze™ Dianella tasmanica “NPW2ʼ PBR
  • Breeze® Dianella caerulea ʻDCNC0ʼ PBR
  • Cassa Blue® Dianella caerulea ʻDBB03ʼ PBR
  • King Alfred® Dianella caerulea ʻJOHN316ʼ PBR
  • Little Jess™ Dianella caerulea ʻDCMP01ʼ PBR
  • Little Rev™ Dianella revoluta ʻDR5000ʼ PBR
  • Lucia™ Dianella caerulea ʻDC101ʼ PBR
  • Revelation® Dianella revoluta ʻDRG04ʼ PBR
  • Silver Streak™ Dianella hybrid
  • Tasred® Dianella tasmanica ʻTR20ʼ PBR
  • Wyeena® Dianella tasmanica ʻTAS300ʼ PBR

Foliage first range

Dianellas:

  • Aranda™ Dianella caerulea ʻDC150ʼ PBR
  • Baby Bliss® Dianella revoluta ʻDTN03ʼ PBR
  • Destiny™ Dianella tasmanica ʻTAS100ʼ PBR
  • Emerald Arch® Dianella tasmanica ʻDT23ʼ PBR
  • Prestige Dianella revoluta ʻREV101ʼ PBR
  • Rainbow Twist™ Dianella prunina ʻDPV308ʼ PBR
  • Utopia® Dianella revoluta ʻDP303ʼ PBR

Phormiums:

  • Chocomint Mist™ Phormium tenax ʻPHOS4ʼ PBR
  • Flamin® Phormium tenaz ʻPHOS3ʼ PBR
  • Sweet Mist® Phormium tenax ʻPHOS2ʼ PBR

Liriopes:

  • Amethyst™ Liriope muscari ʻLIRTPʼ PBR
  • Isabella® Liriope muscari ʻLIRFʼ PBR
  • Just Right® Liriope muscari ʻLIRJʼ PBR
  • Pure Blonde™ Liriope muscari ʻLIRBLONDEʼ PBR

Native shrubs & ground covers

  • Aussie Rambler™ Carpobrotus glaucesens ʻCAR10ʼ PBR pending
  • Purple Fusion™ Scaevola humilis ʻPFS100ʼ PBR
  • Saris™ Hakea salicifolia ʻHAL01ʼ PBR
  • Yareena™ Myoporum parvifolium ʻPARV01ʼ PBR

Advanced trees

  • Luscious® Tristaniopsis laurina ʻDOW10ʼ PBR
  • Pinnacle™ Syzigium australe ʻAATSʼ PBR
  • Red Head Acmena smithii ʻBWNREDʼ PBR
  • Sublime™ Acmena smithii ʻDOW30ʼ PBR

Encore azaleas

  • Autumn Royalty™ Rhododendron hybrid ʻCONLECʼ PBR
  • Autumn Twist™ Rhododendron hybrid ʻCONLEPʼ PBR

Hardy exotic range

  • Cosmic White™ Raphiolepis indica ʻRAPH01ʼ PBR
  • Double Gold™ Gazania hybrid ʻGT20ʼ PBR

It should be noted that plants with little or no maintenance will however need pruning in times of fire hazards, particularly if they have browned off during the hot dry weather. Turf should not be overlooked either, a lush green lawn, regardless of the variety, will help to reduce a fire hazard.

You can read full details of the CSIRO study here.

Playground Plant and Mulch Trial

Playground Plant and Mulch Trial

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Playgrounds and surrounding areas can now be made safer using methods implemented by Ozbreed and Fiona Robbé Landscape Architects, which meet the Australian Standard and have won an award at the Kidsafe 2012 National Playspace Design Awards.

Ozbreed, in conjunction with Fiona Robbé Landscape Architects, found a need to make playgrounds more natural, as kids love playing in playgrounds and quite often wonder off exploring their surrounds. Kids also love playing with plants, and this should be considered more so by Landscape Architects and Designers whilst still ensuring an optimum safe play environment.

The increasing demand and interest in the performance of non-woody plants in mulch in and around play equipment, including fall zones, set the premise for this trial. The main aim of the trial is to systematically determine the optimum growth conditions for non-woody plants in playgrounds mulch. This will allow playgrounds to look more natural and reduce the open bare appearance of play equipment without compromising safety.

Plant Health in Playground Mulch:

Two garden beds were utilised in the trial, containing two different mulches; Playbark Pinebark Mulch and Port Stephens Pine Mulch. NaringaTM Westringia ‘WES01′ PBR and Tanika® Lomandra longifolia ‘LM300’ PBR, were installed in each garden bed and planted in two different sets of conditions: Planted in pure mulch and planted with soil underneath (soil base method).

Preliminary results as of November 2010 showed that plants with soil underneath established and rooted out much quicker than the plants planted straight into the mulch, and the plants in Port Stephens Pine Mulch had rooted out much quicker than in the Playbark Pinebark Mulch.

Naringa displayed affected growth between the soil base method and when planted straight into mulch. Photos depict that with soil, growth has been abundant, while without it seemed to stay the same since planting.

Tanika however showed a better growth habit in the soil base method and the foliage looked cleaner. Results as of February 2011 showed that the plants continued to thrive. They actually seemed healthier and had grown more than the control plants in the surrounding ground.

Again the Port Stephens Pine Mulch has proven more fruitful than the Playbark Pinebark Mulch with plants thriving, however this will be further tested. Overall it was noted that the plants survived and performed better in the soil base method conditions. This is quite important to note within the playground environment as when planted this way they will have a much better chance of surviving harsh wear and tear from kids and pets.

 

Safety of plants in Playground Mulch:

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