By Kate Wall
Couch has long been a highly popular fine leafed grass. It is certainly very hardy, and has earnt its place in the Australian psyche but as our lifestyles change and plant breeding offers us more choices of lawn turfs, couch may not always stack up as the best grass choice. Queensland Blue Couch has been very popular in warm parts of Australia as a couch alternative, and this grass certainly does have certain advantages over couch, being somewhat less aggressive and with less thatch production.
When thinking about the great Aussie grass, choosing a native turf variety makes perfect sense. Nara™ Zoysia macrantha 'MAC03' PBR is the only native grass to be developed into a high quality turf lawn grass. For those who love all things native, this is definitely the grass for you.
In addition to being native, Nara™ is also a very high performing turf variety that looks great. It has a fine leafed texture, similar to couch, making it a very good alternative to using couch while maintaining a similar look and feel.
Both couch and blue couch are warm season grasses, meaning they perform best in warm climates. While almost all of Australia experiences summers which are warm enough (>15oC) to see these grasses perform well, in areas which experience cool to cold winters blue couch particularly will suffer. This grass is not frost tolerant, and can lose colour and vigour quickly in cold winters. It is therefore best suited to areas with mild winters and no frosts.
Happily Nara™ offers an excellent alternative fine leafed turf grass for most areas of Australia, including areas with cooler winters. Being native to Australia from north Queensland through to Tasmania and west, it handles a wide range of climate conditions very well. Testing has seen Nara™ cope with temperatures as low as -12oC.
Nara™ is a dense, fine leaved grass which is gaining significant popularity over both couch and blue couch for its pleasing look alone. As a lawn choice, Nara™ offers many advantages over other turf types, and is well worth considering for a low maintenance lawn.
Nara™ has a much slower growth rate than couch or blue couch which has its greatest advantage in significantly less need for mowing - it will require 35% less mowing than couch. It is NOT the grass for someone who enjoys mowing. This slower growth rate also makes it a far less aggressive grass, needing significantly less edging to keep it from invading the garden beds. Nara™ is also less likely to scalp if mown short than is couch. In other aspects it can be mown in the same way as couch, to your preferred mowing height, although very short mowing is not recommended for any grass, particularly during drought.
Like couch, Nara™ can be used for a dense fine leafed lawn, but unlike couch Nara™ is a very low maintenance lawn.
The slower growth rate will mean that Nara™ will not recover as quickly as couch will from heavy wear and tear. Couch and kikuyu remain the turf of choice for sports fields and heavy use areas. Nara™ does have very good wear resistance and will take longer to be damaged by wear and tear, making it ideal for moderate to high use areas. Nara™ has significantly greater shade tolerance than does couch and has far greater wear resistance than couch in partially shady lawns.
Being a native grass it is well adapted to Australian conditions. Nara™ will need much less fertilising than all other grass types and yet will still provide a healthy strong lawn. When combined with the slower growth rate and naturally deep root system, Nara™ is also a lawn which needs far less watering to keep lush.
Nara™ has outperformed couch and other grasses with regard to drought tolerance. Like couch, Nara™ will brown off during extended dry times as part of its survival strategy. It has shown to survive longer and recover faster than couch from periods of extended drought. Its lower water needs mean that Nara™ can be kept green for much longer on water restrictions than can couch.
Nara™ has proven to have greater pests and disease resistance to most other lawns types and while not completely immune, suffers far less with pest and disease problems, possibly due to the fact that it is a native grass and therefore is better adapted to Australian conditions and has developed some immunity to Australian diseases. It is a low thatching grass which is also highly beneficial in reducing the opportunity for pests and diseases to take hold.
Nara™ has proven itself to be not only beautiful but also a hard wearing lawn perfectly suited to Australian lawns. In fact, of all grass types, Nara™ is possibly one of the best all round lawns in almost all parts of Australia, and an excellent choice for areas where blue couch is not suited.