Which lawn should you plant?

Author: Stefan Palm   Date Posted: 29 September 2021 

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 straightforward 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 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
  • Shade tolerance
  • low maintenance requirements.

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, Tiff Tuff couch. Then there is Sir Walter Buffalo, Kings pride Buffalo, Sapphire Buffalo and then 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 weaknesses 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 need at least 5 hours per day of sun per day and 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. As far as presentation goes, couch is a fine leaf lawn that is best kept short. 
  • 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 superior hard-wearing qualities. It is without question the most hardwearing turf variety available in South Australia while maintaining excellent drought-tolerant qualities.  The downside is that kikuyu is fairly invasive and like couch, won't 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 backyard 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 turf as it will handle the dog traffic better than anything else. If you wanted a lawn for a shady area and 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 considering 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, it's 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 turf 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 lawns 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 these 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