Both buffalo grass and couch turf are frequently found in backyards across Australia. Known for their hardy nature and resistance to wear, both make excellent choices for your yard – but that doesn’t mean these two grass varieties always get along.
Anyone who’s struggled with an invasive grass will understand how difficult it can be to keep neighbouring grasses from encroaching on your lawn. On the other hand, when switching from one variety of grass to another, a takeover could be exactly what you’re trying to encourage. Either way, when you’re putting different turf varieties to the test, it’s important to know if one species of grass tends to overtake the other.
Buffalo grass does not tend to take over couch lawns, thanks to its slow-growing nature when compared to other turf types. However, like any turf type, it’s the nature of grass to spread – so if you’re not keeping up with your lawn maintenance, it’s possible for buffalo to encroach on couch grass. But if you’re aiming to replace your existing couch turf with buffalo, you’ll likely need to give the new buffalo grass a helping hand to win the battle.
Keen to learn more about the way couch and buffalo grasses interact? Read on to learn more about these two popular grass types.
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Will Buffalo Lawn Take Over Couch?
While it can be intentional for one grass to take over another, there is a less desirable scenario when grass types mix: when an invading type from a nearby lawn spreads to yours, be it through fences, airborne seeds, or invaders hitching a ride on garden equipment.
This can result in a lawn with one type of turf but with patches of another, or in the worst scenarios, the invading grass taking over completely. In cases like these, you’ll have no choice but to kill the invading species so that the desired grass can survive.
Buffalo grass can be considered an invasive species, like many types of grass, but when compared to other varieties, it’s not frequently found taking over couch or other species of turf. Buffalo grass is also a slow-spreading grass compared to other varieties – so if you notice blades of buffalo grass invading your couch lawn, you’ll have time to catch it before it spreads.
On the other hand, it’s far more common for couch grass to take over buffalo turf.
While its coarse nature means buffalo grass tends to be resistant to weeds, it can also be susceptible to invasion from smaller and finer grasses. Seeds of other grasses – such as couch or kikuyu – can easily sprout and take hold unnoticed when sheltered under the coarse blades of buffalo grass. By the time a property owner notices an invasion of couch grass, the infestation has already begun to spread.
The good news is that couch grass mainly spreads via runners and not by seeds – meaning a solid boundary between your buffalo grass and your neighbour’s couch will help keep a takeover at bay.
Either way, keeping a frequent eye on your lawns for any unfamiliar blades or clumps of grass will help you detect invasions as early as possible.
Should I Prefer Buffalo Or Couch Turf For My Lawn?
When choosing the turf to use for your lawn, several factors come into play. The most immediate factor that comes to mind is the price. However, while this is a big influence on our landscaping choices, it’s a good idea to look deeper and decide based on more important long-term factors. This includes what your turf will be used for, the type of shade your area has, the climate of your region, and the amount of care you are willing to put into it.
Couch turf and buffalo turf are both very common choices for Australian lawns. Choosing the kind of turf will boil down to what is better suited for your individual lawn care needs. While couch turf has its strengths, such as durability and cost, buffalo turf is more suited to a wider variety of Australian regions. Buffalo turf is hardier, can handle more shade, and needs much lower maintenance.
Perhaps all these advantages will amount to a buffalo turf takeover in the hearts of lawn enthusiasts across the country.
Pros And Cons Of Couch Turf
Pros Of Couch Turf
Couch grass has been a longtime staple for Aussie residences due to its affordability and resistance to wear. If you live in a sunny area, then couch turf is a very good choice. Its durability also makes it a popular choice for sports fields, parks, playgrounds, and other areas of high use.
Cons Of Couch Turf
If you do not live in a sunny area all year round, your couch turf will struggle. It needs full sun to thrive and is a higher maintenance turf than buffalo – couch turf needs more water more often, and is less resistant to weeds, meaning you may put more time and energy into weed control.
Another factor to consider is aesthetic appeal. If you want a beautiful green lawn all year round, you’d better choose another variety, as couch turf browns in the winter. You can’t stop couch turf browning with more water or fertilizer – it’s an unfortunate fact of life that this grass doesn’t look its best during the cooler months.
Pros And Cons Of Buffalo Turf
Pros Of Buffalo Turf
Buffalo turf is extremely hardy when it comes to climate – it can prosper just about anywhere in Australia, even under challenging conditions. Be it sunny or shaded environments, buffalo will look great and thrive with ease. It can also weather the dry seasons and hotter months, needing less water than the couch turf. If you’re after a drought-tolerant grass variety or a turf that doesn’t need watering often, buffalo grass is your new best friend.
Buffalo turf is also very pest- and weed-resistant, keeping your lawn care routine minimal and potentially avoiding the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides. All these advantages make buffalo a rising star with many busy homeowners, especially those dealing with water restrictions.
Cons Of Buffalo Turf
If buffalo has any weaknesses, it’s that it is slightly more expensive than couch – but considering the additional costs involved in maintaining it, you’re likely to break even very quickly. Buffalo grass does have a coarser, broad-leafed appearance which may not be to everyone’s liking. Aesthetic reasons are a common motivation to avoid buffalo turf.
What To Consider When Mixing Two Types Of Turf
Having a mixed lawn is a common sight in Australia. Generally, mixing grasses leads to a more adaptable lawn – the varieties may even naturally fluctuate in proportion according to the conditions.
This is commonly achieved by mixing cool-weather and warm-weather grass – when the climate is less than ideal for one, the other naturally thrives, optimising the appearance and health of your lawn year-round.
Mixing grass types can even lead to a symbiotic relationship between multiple types, allowing deep-rooting and drought-resistant grass to draw water up to the surface, helping the shallow-rooting grass survive. Generally, mixed lawns cope better with fluctuating conditions, such as alternating wet-dry or sun-shade conditions during the year. If your lawn frequently floods or dries out completely, despite your regular watering routine, a mixed lawn may give you the best results.
However, the exact varieties of grass selected will determine how successful and healthy a mixed-variety lawn is. There’s also the possibility that the better-suited grass type will completely take over the other, defeating the purpose of having a mixed turf lawn.
What Are The Benefits Of Mixing Buffalo And Couch Turf?
As mentioned, some homeowners prefer to mix the two turf types by overseeding one turf over another. If you live in the warmer areas of Australia, a popular choice is overseeding buffalo turf with couch seed. Since buffalo is not available in seed form, this is usually done by adding couch seed to a buffalo lawn.
Overseeding is usually done either in the summer or spring and can be the next step after aerating your lawn. For best results, follow up aerating and overseeding your lawn with a thorough watering routine for the next few months. Ensuring the grass seed has enough water to germinate ensures you actually get the results you’re after.
Since buying grass seed is cheaper than laying new turf, overseeding is a cost-effective way to give your lawn that fuller, thicker look. The addition of buffalo will help keep the grass looking greener during the winter months or in shaded areas when couch grass tends to dry out and brown.
There are also companies that sell mixed turf made from carefully balanced couch and buffalo turf, aiming to maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of both grass varieties. For example, this mixed turf is more economical than pure buffalo (since couch is cheaper) yet it also does reasonably well in shaded areas (a weakness of couch turf).
Should I Remove Couch Turf Before Laying Buffalo Turf?
Buffalo turf often has trouble taking over couch grass, which is far more invasive and quicker to spread. For best results, if you have pre-existing couch turf on your lawn and you would like to replace it with buffalo turf, the former needs to be removed before laying down the latter. To do this, you need to use a chemical herbicide that does not leave any residue behind.
Once the couch turf dies, remove it and then cultivate the soil or mix in new soil before laying down the new buffalo turf. It takes a bit of hard work, but this will make it less likely that the old turf will return to mess up your new buffalo lawn.
Keep an eye out for any returning blades of couch grass and act quickly before the couch grass has the chance to spread. This will give your new buffalo lawn the best support to survive and thrive!
Why Is Buffalo Turf Preferable?
Many landowners prefer buffalo over couch turf because couch is quite a high maintenance turf – couch grass needs more water and fertiliser and is less resistant to weeds. It also needs full sun to thrive, so it isn’t suited to shaded lawns. Buffalo turf is much easier to maintain, requiring less fertilizer, less water, less work to remain weed-free, and only half the sunlight that couch demands to thrive.
Is Couch Lawn Ideal For Australian Weather?
Provided that you live in the sunny parts of Australia, your lawn is situated where it can get full sun, and you are willing to contend with a higher water bill, then couch turf can be a very good choice. Just remember that it also a higher maintenance turf compared to others: couch turf needs more water and fertiliser than other varieties.
Sam Christie is the owner and operator of Christies landscapes, founded in 2013 Sam and his team of landscapers and designers have many years experience in the landscape construction industry. Over the years they have developed and refined a broad range of skills, qualifications and techniques to deliver outstanding projects throughout the Canberra region.