If you are passionate about gardening and live in Australia, you’ve probably heard about Couch grass. This tuft variety is quite popular amongst many Aussie homeowners due to its long list of advantages. Still, there is much to be learned about the specifics and growing needs of the Couch grass, so we hope this guide helps you expand your knowledge.
Couch grass characteristics
Also known as Cynodon dactylon, Couch grass can be a good choice for your yard, especially if you want to grow a larger lawn. You can identify it by its fine, rich-green blades and horizontal growth. A green Couch grass turf can be a pleasure to look at, but also a bit of a handful when it comes to maintenance. So, before you settle on Couch grass, it’s good to know more about its pros and cons. Let’s dive into them.
- Sun lover – If we can call Couch grass one thing, it would be a survivor. You don’t have to think about your lawn becoming brown on the hot Australian summer days because the plant just loves the sun. And when we say that Couch grass enjoys a good dose of vitamin D, we do mean it – the plant can thrive in temperatures reaching 40°C. So, if you live in hotter areas like Adelaide and Perth, Couch grass is a good option for your backyard.
- Drought-tolerant – Also, there is no need to worry about drought periods in your area. This type of plant can endure even the worst dry spells.
- Highly durable – Another positive side of having this sort of grass is its durability. For example, Couch grass is so strong and traffic-resistant that it’s even used in football fields, parks and playgrounds. Some lawn grasses may need a specific soil type to grow properly, but not Cynodon dactylon. The latter can thrive in almost any sort of soil. Still, the sandy type seems to be a bit more favourable.
- Extra mowing – Couch is an invasive plant, which means that if you are looking for grass that can spread and get established quickly, then this sort is definitely for you. However, this also means you will have to mow more frequently, as the grass can grow pretty fast. Also, because of the invasive nature of the plant, frequent edging of your turfed area is a must. Otherwise, you risk the grass overtaking all of your neat garden beds. You can prevent this from happening by just pulling any runners out of the ground.
- Weed and pest invasions – Speaking of extra maintenance duties, you have to keep an eye out for pests and weeds, as well. This type of lawn grass can have problems with both of them.
- Shade intolerance – As mentioned before, Couch grass can endure long periods of sun exposure, as well as high temperatures. However, if your yard is in a shadier area, then you may have to consider a different sort of grass, like Zoysia or Buffalo.
And lastly, one interesting and strictly informational fact about this plant is that it can be used for tea. Boiled Couch grassroots have strong antibiotic and diuretic properties. Drinking it is believed to have a positive effect on a sore throat or in case of a urinary infection. Who knew, right?
Most common types of Couch grass
Couch grass comes in different varieties, and all of them have their specifics. To choose the most suitable for your lawn, it’s a good idea to have some basic information about the popular options. Here are three of the most common types of Couch grass in Australia that you can pick from!
Nullarbor Couch Grass
A relatively well-established type of Couch grass in Australia. And there is a reason for it. If you need a warm-season grass sort for your lawn that looks like it came straight from a commercial, this option is the one to choose.
Nullarbor Grass has an amazing, deep green colour and fine-leaf blades. Because of its polished look, this sort of plant is preferred to use in landscape projects and sports fields.
As a Couch grass, Nullarbor enjoys a lot of sun exposure. If you have a garden on the shadier side, we don’t recommend growing this type of grass there. This turf needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, otherwise, it won’t look as healthy as it should or will die out completely.
In terms of mowing frequency, it’s best to give the Nullarbor grass a trim every week. And when it comes to fertilising, give your turf an extra boost 2-3 times a year to maintain its manicured look.
Santa Ana Couch Grass
Santa Ana is another popular Couch grass type out there. The American grass variety has a fine texture and a bright green colour. If you are on a hunt for a turf option that can handle a lot of wear and tear, Santa Ana is the way to go, especially for those of you with pets and children.
This Couch grass type is also quite famous for its ability to survive even the hottest Australian summer days. And while on the topic of sun, Santa Ana loves to take long sunbaths and again, too much shade can make the plant very thin and weak.
Maintain this Couch grass variety low in height and don’t leave your lawn unattended for more than a week. Make sure to keep the blades at least 20mm long, and when mowing your Santa Ana lawn, always dispose of the clippings.
Wintergreen Couch Grass
If you are on the lookout for a really low-maintenance type of Couch grass, look no further. Wintergreen doesn’t require as much care as other Couch variety turfs. However, one thing they all have in common is the daily dose of sunlight. So, you will have to find a nice shade-free spot for your Wintergreen grass if you want it to grow properly.
Wintergreen has a nice, mid-green colour and a softer texture. It is also a good option for gardens that receive a lot of traffic, so you can easily turn your backyard into a playground for you and the kids.
You need to think about one important thing prior to growing this grass variety and that’s soil. This turf is famous for its nutrient deficiencies and water loss, so it’s a good idea to prepare the ground with some Bentonite prior to laying the Wintergreen couch grass.
Other than the nutrient problem, this sort of grass is really strong. It can easily repair itself from almost any type of damage.
Couch grass maintenance tips
Wondering how to look after Couch grass? Well, as we’ve already established, this is a high-maintenance variety, so be prepared to provide extra care to your lawn. Here is what to keep in mind…
As we mentioned before, Couch grass has a fine leaf blade which in translation means that the plant is not very good at absorbing sunlight. This is the main reason why you should plant Couch grass in areas that receive a lot of sun exposure. Even a small amount of shade can be harmful to this type of grass.
If you are a proud owner of a garden space filled with many trees and bushes that create excess shade, regular pruning is a must. This is an important requirement if you want to keep your Couch grass healthy and green.
If you wish to keep the beautiful green colour of your Couch grass turf, you’ll also need to create a strict watering schedule. This can help you easily keep track of how often to water the lawn and not miss a chore.
Like with any other plant, the frequency of the task depends on two factors: season and rainfall. On the hot summer days, you’ll need to water the grass around 2-3 times a week. During the more rainy autumn and spring seasons, your lawn will need to be watered only once every 7 days. And as for winter – 2 times per month. Don’t forget the golden rule of gardening: water your plants early in the morning, especially in the summer.
Giving your plants a boost by fertilising them is always a good idea. The same applies to your lawn. To ensure that your lawn looks magazine-worthy, you can use both chemical and organic fertilisers.
Of course, not at the same time. In the summer months, you’ll need to spread around 10 kg of fertiliser per 100m of grass. You can repeat this process every month and a half. When winter settles in, apply the fertiliser only once. An organic or slow-release option would be the best one for Couch grass.
Couch grass’ mowing frequency depends on the type of Couch grass you have on your property. If you own the Santa Ana variety, you’ll have to mow it every 7-14 days. Keep the mowing height around 20 mm.
Greenlees Park and Wintergreen turf both require a trim every 10-14 days and their ideal height is around 10-15mm. During the winter months, you can cut your mowing frequency in half or even reduce the chore to a single session every 3-5 weeks.
As mentioned above, weed control is a vital part of Couch grass maintenance. Examine the turf on a weekly basis prior to mowing and look for signs of lawn weeds. This type of grass isn’t very picky when it comes to selective herbicides, so you don’t need to worry about the safety of your garden.
Couch grass problems and solutions
Although this lawn grass variety can recover pretty quickly from the negative effect of stress, high traffic or other factors, it is still not invincible. If you notice problems like change in colour, reduced growth or bald patches, there could be a problem. Don’t worry, though, there are still ways to try and revive the Couch grass.
However, before you panic that there’s something wrong with your lawn, you need to keep in mind a few things. First, it is perfectly normal for Couch grass to slow its growth in the winter months, as it’s not very tolerant to cold in general. The same applies to shade and very dry types of soil.
Therefore, given the slow growth and cold intolerance, it is good to let your Couch grass grow a bit longer in winter. Continuing to cut it way too low will result in scalping. In which case, it would be best to let the grass strengthen by growing longer blades.
The change in colour could be a result of improper irrigation. Check the ground to see how it feels. If it appears hard and dry, then you can water the turf and see if it starts to recover. However, if the soil is soggy, then you need to cut back on the watering for a while.
Fertilising can also help revive Couch grass and keep it healthy. A slow-release type of fertiliser is a preferred choice.
If you need to revive your Couch grass and water and fertilisers do not prove effective, then you can try aerating the turf. This can solve thatch and soil compaction problems and also enrich the grass with nutrients and other vital elements from the roots up.
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- Couch grass can be easily distinguished from other sorts of grass by its delicate blades in different shades of green.
- Nullarbor, Santa Ana and Wintergreen are three of the most common types of Couch grass.
- Durability, traffic-resistance, heat- and drought-tolerance are the main features that make this grass variety a popular choice for many Australian homeowners.
- There are also some downsides like high-maintenance, along with weed and pest problems.