Monthly Archives: March 2014

How Hot Do Common Landscape Surfaces Get In Summer?

How Hot Do Common Landscape Surfaces Get In Summer?

By Todd Layt

landscape surfaces in summer

Over the last couple of years we took the temperatures of many landscape surfaces on 40 degree days. You might find the results we got surprising. We discovered there was a great deal of variation in temperature between different surfaces. For example, from grass to gravel the temperature varied by 32 degrees. The findings from this important research could help contractors and designers create cooler landscapes.

Some hard surfaces were a lot cooler than others. Selecting the right products can greatly reduce the surrounding temperature of your backyard entertaining area. With the spreading fear about the possible temperature rises, isn’t it time to consider using cooler landscape alternatives?

It’s not surprising that the coolest temperature taken was from the surface water of a large pond, which was exactly 40 degrees, the same as the air temperature. The next coolest surface in full sun was the green grass on a sports field, which measured 45.65°. Dry grass on the same field was 51.5°.

Green grass growing near gravel was found to be 52.15°, whilst dry grass next to gravel was surprisingly 62.2°. Dry grass further away from the gravel was cooler. Shaded turf near concrete was 47.2° whilst concrete in shade was 49.8°. Gravel in full sun was 77.78° and grey concrete on a tennis court reached an amazing 78.27°, with concrete surfaces around a house in full sun 74.75°. Fake grass did not fair much better reaching 66.95°.

So the first trend that can be seen is that grass in full sun is much cooler than concrete and gravel, but so is shaded concrete. The shade of a tree reduced the temperature of the concrete by 25°. Lomandra Tanika growing in gravel that was 77.78 degrees just a few metres away cooled the gravel that was right next to it down to 53.9 degrees Celsius.

It’s amazing the plants can even survive in…read more








Pruning Strappy Leaf Plants – Part 2

Pruning Strappy Leaf Plants – Part 2

Even with this selection of extremely low maintenance plants, it’s inevitable that some pruning will be needed. These tips give some often eye catching pruning techniques that will keep your landscape from looking hacked at.

Pruning Strappy Leaf Plants

BABY BLISS® Dianella revoluta ‘DTN03’ PBR

An excellent garden or mass planting choice for low blue foliage. Works well all over Australia, but avoid using in depressed areas that get extra wet. It does well in dry situations. Further south where humidity is lower, it can work in depressed spots as long as they are not permanently wet.

• Mass spring flowers

• Vivid blue foliage

• Tough little plant

• Very frost tolerant

• Non invasive


Prune back every 2 to 3 years. Cut back to half way on mass planting areas. For gardens older leaves can be removed if that is preferable. For a more vivid blue colour use 8 to 12 months slow release fertiliser.

FLAMIN’® Phormium tenax ‘PHOS3’ PBR

A vibrant and midsized Phormium.

• More vibrant colour than other single colour Phormiums

• Mid sized

• Tougher than other purperea types

• Grows as well as green Phormiums


In gardens remove older leaves if ever needed. On roadsides, prune after 4 to 5 years if it gets too high for line of sight reasons or if it needs rejuvenating. It works well with out fertiliser, but will look more vibrant if 8 to 12 month slow release fertiliser is used.

SWEET MIST® Phormium tenax ‘PHOS2’ PBR

The richest colour and most dense, compact Phormium in Australia.

• Small

• Rich colour

• Stronger grower than Elfin


For gardens, if Sweet Mist ever gets discoloured foliage simply pull out dry looking bits. For mass planting like roadsides, the new foliage will after a period grow over the older looking foliage, so pruning should only be needed after 5 to 7 years. For a richer colour fertilise with an 8 to 12 month slow release fertiliser.

Click here for a whole lot more of these pruning tips…







The Best Way To Prune Strappy Leaf Plants – Plant Pruning Tips

The Best Way To Prune Strappy Leaf Plants

By Todd Layt

Even with this selection of extremely low maintenance plants, it’s inevitable that some pruning will be needed. These tips give some often eye catching pruning techniques that will keep your landscape from looking hacked at.

Best Way To Prune Strappy Leaf Plants

Cassa Blue® Dianella caerulea ‘DBB03’ PBR

It performs extremely well in less humid regions.

• Blue foliage
• Very low seed set, so a safe environmental choice
• Mass flowering
• Excellent drought, frost and cold tolerance
• Good salt spray tolerance

Prune back half way every 3 to 5 years or alternatively, pull out older leaves. Performs better with 8 to 12 slow release fertiliser every 2 years.

Tanika® Lomandra longifolia ‘LM300’ PBR

Tanika is one of the most reliable and best landscape plants for all over

Australia (excluding alpine regions and high humidity areas).

• Sterile

• Evergreen winter and drought

• No irrigation needed

• Trim each 4 to 7 years

• One of the most reliable and best landscape plants for Australia

• Low fertiliser requirements


Trim in to a ball shape if needed, usually about half way and preferably trim every 3 to 7 years. Tanika ® Lomandra will live and prosper without pruning for more than a decade, but will look better with pruning after 3 to 7 years. If you’re in a high profile area, use slow release fertiliser every 1 to 2 years; 8 to 12 month preferably.

Tanika ® Lomandra will survive and prosper for more than a decade without fertiliser, but will look more dark green with fertiliser. Fertilising yearly will result in pruning being required after about 3 to 4 years. Thus if it is on a high profile site, use fertiliser, if a roadside, fertilise at time of planting only.


With fertiliser Tanika ® Lomandra usually stays evergreen down to -8 to -10°c. Has survived in the past down to -12°c. Avoid use in regions that have many days below -8°c in a row (eg alpine regions).

Tasred® Dianella tasmanica ‘TR20’ PBR

Performs well in many conditions in Perth, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, ACT and in NSW.

• Nice flowers and berries

• Has been grown with no known reseeding issues

• In colder parts it gets winter red growth on foliage

• Wide leaf looks like a compact wide leaf Phormium, but with really nice flowers


Prune back half way when needed each 3 to 7 years. It is more important to have a sharp implement for wider leaf plants. Sharp shears work well. Fertilise with 8 to 12 month slow release fertiliser if darker green foliage is desired.

Little Jess™ Dianella caerulea ‘DCMP01’ PBR

Little Jess is a great compact low maintenance plant for humid areas, and moderately cold areas.

• Mass purple flowers

• Compact

• Architectural shape

• Drought and moderately frost tolerant

• Non invasive


Prune every 2 to 3 years in gardens, and every 4 to 6 years on roadsides. Trim to half height. Avoid pruning in winter if possible. Slow release fertiliser is recommended for gardens every couple of years. Roadsides generally do OK without it, but for a darker foliage colour apply as for the garden.

Click here for a whole lot more of these pruning tips…

Beware of using Lomandra confertifolia in mass planting

Beware of using Lomandra confertifolia in mass planting

Unless you follow certain rules

By Todd Layt

When compared to the more robust longifolia, fluviatilis, or hystrix types, Lomandra confertifolia is a smaller, slow growing, weaker Lomandra. Although Lomandra confertifolia types have been used on many sites they are slow to establish and they’ll often die due to lack of water during establishment, or are out competed by weeds.

If you are to use Lomandra confertifolia types, the smallest size pot to use is 140mm but due to the slowness of establishment you’d be better off using a minimum size pot of 175mm.

Another problem with using Lomandra confertifolia types in landscapes is that in frosts, they discolour much worse than longifolia or fluviatilis types. Also, due to their less vigorous root system they also struggle in the dry. In nature they’re generally found in slightly shaded areas. The best place to use Lomandra confertilfolia types is in gardens, where they can be maintained, and weeds can be removed. Used in mass plantings, they will be almost always overtaken by weeds.

WINGARRA® Lomandra contertifolia 'SIR5' PBR

Wingarra® Lomandra is the toughest of all confertifolia types, being unique in the fact it spreads from rhyzomes, and given maintenance for the first 18 months, it will spread and outcompete weeds. But it still needs a longer maintenance schedule than say Lomandra longifolia types like Tanika® Lomandra , Nyalla® Lomandra or hystrix types like Katie Belles™ Lomandra , or the new fluviatilis type called Shara™ Lomandra. The minimum size recommended for Wingarra® Lomandra is a 140mm pot.

Some of the new more blue types look pretty, but they die quite easily when the times get tough. Good garden plants for sure, but avoid them for mass planting. Part of the reason why they do not perform as well as the more vigorous Lomandra species in sunny mass planted areas, can be gleamed from the botanic text books. All the Lomandra confertifolia species described grow in dry sclerophyll forest with some shade, except for one type which grows in rocky sandstone type soils. This is probably the reason why most fail in humid type climates, as well as dry climates where it is full sun and heavy soil types.

Click here for more info Ozbreed plants








What Sydney United said about Kenda Kikuyu turf

 “Nice and thick and lush green, we will be ordering 700 sq metres more once the season is over”. 

They’re very happy with the Kenda Kikuyu turf and to say they will be ordering more in spring is great news, particularly when there were problems at first, getting enough water on the turf after transplanting. This just shows how tough Kenda Kikuyu really is.

Kenda Kikuyu turf

Kenda Kikuyu from the trials in to photo, has the best winter colour out of common Kikuyu and Village Green.

Kenda has similar upward growth to other types of Kikuyu but its horizontal growth is accelerated and its underground growth is much deeper which means the same amount of mowing, but a much greater wear tolerance. It also survives drought better because of the deep underground growth. It is ideal for areas that have extreme wear but want better winter colour than a Couch.

Other benefits are:

Less turf replacement for sporting ovals because of the larger rhyzomes and stolons as well as much more of them.

It has a quicker establishment period than common Kikuyu.

It is a sterile Kikuyu, a much safer choice for areas near bushland. We have never seen a seed form on Kenda after many years of testing.

People have commented that it resembles a well maintained Tall Fescue Lawn in appearance.

Like other Kikuyus it spreads fast so is not reccomended near garden beds with no hard edges.

Click here for more info on Kenda Kikuyu turf 








Plant Profile – Pinnacle™ Syzygium australe ‘AATS’ PBR

Plant Profile – Pinnacle™ Syzygium australe ‘AATS’ PBR is an excellent plant for shaping and borders.

By Katrina Layt

An excellent plant for shaping and borders

Pinnacle™ Syzygium is the perfect topiary plant as you can see above, they almost look like Australian Native Christmas trees! Even between pruning, Pinnacle™ Syzygium will still look tidy and doesn’t grow too wide. If you’re tight for space it also works great as a narrow screen or hedge.

The glossy green leaves and subtle reddish brown new growth provide new textures for narrow plantings and the fluffy white flowers and red fleshy fruits remind you that this amazing plant is actually a Lilly Pilly.

Depending on conditions, Pinnacle™ Syzygium grows from 6-10m high  and 1-1.5m wide. While Pinnacle™ Syzygium prefers well drained and moist soils it tolerates most soils and is available in 200mm pots and above.

For more information and pictures on Pinnacle™ Syzygium click here…








Using Turf For Rainwater Gardens

Using Turf For Rainwater Gardens

An option that works well for filtering water and reducing runoff in rainwater gardens is turf, within and surrounding the garden. In a study from the University of Madison-Wisconsin in America, they show that turf produces less run off than plants.

EMPIRE™ Zoysia Turf

A great lawn variety to use for rain gardens is Empire™ Zoysia turf. Being very low maintenance and very drought tolerant it fits in well with the rest of the plants in this article selected for the rain garden.

Empire™ Turf has also been used at the Ozbreed trial gardens as a filter in our dry river bed and has thrived in the wet and dry conditions.

The fact that it needs very little fertiliser to look great will suit rain gardens too; any nutrients that are used will be absorbed by the leaf and root zones.

For more information on this study click here