Why do some turf varieties grow through winter?

Posted on May 15, 2020 by Ashlee Hall

When it comes to lawn types, there are two main options – warm season and cool season. Warm season grasses, known as C4 grasses, lose colour during the cooler months and don’t grow as much, and cool season varieties, known as C3 grasses, continue growing throughout winter and retain their colour. C3 and C4 refers to carbon, and the numbers 3 and 4 represents how many carbon atoms within each compound.

turf growing winter
Photo courtesy of Lawn Solutions Australia.

But what varieties are warm season and what are cool season? Keep reading to find out more, or chat to Rosemount Turf on (07) 5448 6398 to learn more.

Grass types

Warm season varieties of grass include buffalo, kikuyu, zoysia and couch. Cool season varieties include Bent grass, Fescue, Ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass. Warm season grasses are generally suited to northern areas of Australia and cool season grasses to the far south. Geographically however, we have a limited real ‘cool season’ area compared places such as North America and Europe - hence the reason warm season turf varieties are much more common in Australia.

Pros and cons

Cool season grasses remain green during winter and look great; however, they have a few downfalls:

  • Survive best in cold conditions and, realistically, Australia is not a cold country. We do experience cold winters in the southern states, but nothing in comparison to that of some other countries.
  • Flourish during the winter, but as it gets warmer, they start to falter and lack the vigour that they had during winter.
  • The only way to maintain a cool season variety in most parts of Australia is to water it – a lot. This isn’t great for the environment, as well as not great for your increasing water bill.

Oversowing

The most understandable use of cool season turf varieties is through the process of oversowing. Oversowing turf with a cool season variety can offer a great, green-looking lawn during winter with low requirements for additional watering once germinated, but it’s not suggested for most warm season varieties other than couch.

You might have noticed that sports fields tend to stay green during the winter months – this is because most sports fields are couch and they have been oversowed to provide a nice green, thick playing surface for use right through the winter months.

Alternatives

There is an alternative to oversowing though – TifTuf. Although TifTif is a hybrid Bermuda (Couch) variety and a warm season grass, it has incredible winter colour retention abilities. Combine this with drought tolerance, wear resistance and a dense profile, TifTuf lawn is the perfect choice for the Australian climate.

The above qualities mean that it is no longer a necessity to oversow those fields for the winter, as well as reducing the need for big expensive heat lights, for the most part. TifTuf is also available for your lawn at home too, so you can have the best of both worlds – a greener home lawn in winter that also requires less water.

If you are searching for a grass that has the qualities you like in cool season grasses, but with the drought tolerance and hardiness of a warm season grass, then TifTuf is the solution!

Resources:

Lawn Solutions Australia
Lawn Solutions Australia (Why do some grasses continue to grow during winter?

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