Which lawn should I plant?

Author: Stefan Palm   Date Posted: 22 October 2018 

Choosing a lawn can be a confusing process. There is heaps of information on the internet telling you which one is the best so how do you find the one which is right for you?

Whether you are putting in a lawn yourself or having a tradesman do it for you, it won’t be long before you’ll be asking yourself the question, “which lawn should I use?” You’ve probably got some ideas from past experiences, and you may have heard some advertising on various different types.  You probably think that it should be a fairly straight forward decision but you’ll soon find out after making a few phone calls or doing some research over the internet that there is a world of varieties out there, a lot of which you might never have heard of. You’ll read and hear some fantastic claims, you’ll probably pick up some inconsistencies between what different people say about different varieties and you may even come away a bit confused about what to do.

I can tell you from decades of experience, that there is a relatively short list of “must haves” that most people want, those being: drought tolerance, hard wearing qualities, year round colour and preferably low maintenance. It’s amazing to see how many varieties out there today promise to deliver all of these traits and much better than their competitors. I can also assure you that no matter what you hear, there is no one lawn that can deliver 5 stars in all these areas. All lawns excel in some areas and don’t deliver so strongly in others. 

There are 3 categories of instant lawns most commonly available in Adelaide, those being couch, kikuyu and buffalo. In each of these categories there are many different varieties, all competing to be the “best”. For example, there is Santa Anna Couch, Windsor Green Couch, Conquest Couch, Nullabor Couch. Then there is Sir Walter Buffalo, Kings pride Buffalo, Sapphire Buffalo and lastly Sterile Kikuyu, Kenda Kikuyu, Dwarf Kikuyu… you get the idea.

Each of these categories has strengths, each has weaknesses.  As a generalisation, let me give you my opinion of the strengths and weakness of each category to help you make a more informed decision of which lawn to choose. Once you sort out which category is best for you (ie couch, kikuyu or buffalo), then choosing a variety of that category becomes much easier.

Couch lawns are probably the most suitable for our climate. They offer a good balance of hard wearing qualities and drought tolerance without being too invasive. There are some good low maintenance varieties around now too so watch out for them. It is said that couch lawns are some of the most drought tolerant varieties available. By drought tolerant I mean that they can survive in true drought conditions.

Kikuyu has been around for ages and most people have an opinion about it but let me tell you, it’s the most popular lawn in South Australia. It’s the lawn you see almost without exception on ovals, council public land and schools because of its supererior hard wearing qualities. It is without question the most hardwearing turf variety available in South Australia. The down side is that kikuyu is fairly invasive and wont grow in the shade.

Buffalo lawns are the least maintenance of the three types and also the most versatile being able to grow in both sun and shade. They have a very distinctive lush green look, keep good year round colour and have excellent salt tolerance but they are also the least drought tolerant in South Australia’s climate and the least hard wearing of the three types considered here.

There are plenty of other pro’s and con’s of these lawn types but you can start to see here that some characteristics of a lawn will appeal to you, some will turn you off. If you wanted a lawn for your back yard and you had 2 dogs, the area was in the full sun and you didn’t want to use too much water, I'd suggest kikuyu. If you wanted a lawn for a shady area and ultra low maintenance was high on your list of must haves, buffalo would be a good choice. Everyone’s situation is different and you will a little time spent consideing the things that are most important to you in a lawn will result in you choosing the right variety for you

When you have sorted out which category suits you best, its time to pick a variety. For example, if you decide that buffalo is the right category of lawn, you’ll then have to make a choice of which variety of buffalo you want. There have been many advances in lawn varieties over the last few years which have resulted in new varieties of lawn being released. They are usually “PBR” varieties which stands for Plant Breeders Rights. Put simply they are patented varieties of lawn developed to breed in desirable characteristics and breed out undesirable ones. Watch out for them when shopping for your lawn but also keep in mind that while there are some differences between varieties of lawns, the differences are minimal. In my opinion, you couldn’t choose the wrong one! For example, if you have decided to buy buffalo, the varieties of buffalo available in South Australia are similar and while each has its unique points of difference, they are all really good varieties and would do well for you.

All in all, do your research, understand your needs and ask plenty of questions. Be comfortable with the lawn that is recommended to you and don’t rely solely on the internet or what other people have to say about various types. If you want to do some more research, we have some more information including some videos explaining the differences. (After you've clicked the more information link, you'll see a page with a list of lawn varieties. Click through each variety to discover more )

If you have any questions or need any help deciding, give us a call on 08 8298 0555

Comments (5)

Buffalo turf

By: on 12 August 2019
I have a small courtyard and am having difficulty growing a suitable lawn I get morning sun till midday ,its flat and has a small drain in the middle .Can I use Buffalo? I would like to buy turf if possible .What do you suggest ? Price also is very important .

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hi Marilyn, When you have as much shade as you do, your turf options are limited. It sounds like the best lawn for you would be Kings Pride soft leaf buffalo which will cost around the $12 mark per square metre. Regards, Stefan

New Lawn Hahndorf

By: on 13 February 2019
Hi. After suggestions for a new lawn I Hahndorf. Front lawn, No wear and tear ,north west side of house.Thank you.

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hey Margaret, We'd love to help you choose the right lawn - the best way for us to do this is to have a conversation. If you have a moment, give us a call on 8298 0555. We're open 6 days from 8.30 till 5.00


By: on 30 January 2019
Do you have lawn specimens to look at to help decide what grass to plant ?

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hi Margaret, We do have displays of all the turf varieties we sell. We're open 6 days per week from 8.30 till 5.00. Come down and have a chat - we'll help you figure out which one will be best for you

Bluegrass lawn dying in this heat

By: on 16 January 2019
We've sown a bluegrass lawn under an oak tree in the backyard, only to watch it frying and drying up in the extreme heat this summer. Can a combination of couch and buffalo work in our backyard? What is our best option? We have two boys, no dogs.

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hi Tony, Blue grass can be a tough lawn to keep alive in heat - it is very thirsty. You mentioned couch but that variety wont grow in the shade. Depending on how much shade the oak tree is casting, you may be able to use Buffalo. Buffalo is the most shade tolerant of the running types of grasses however it does have it's limits. You would still need a minimum of 2 hours per day of direct sun to make buffalo grow. Buffalo would be the most hard wearing and drought tolerant option if you had enough sun however if you get less than 2 hours, you will have to use tall fescue which is available as seed or turf. Tall fescue is still thirsty but not as thirsty as blue grass. Its more durable than blue grass as well.

Village green kikuyu

By: on 19 September 2018
Do you stock this in ready turf

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hi Ros, We don't stock Village Green however we do stock Sterile Kikuyu and Kenda Kikuyu.

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