Cool or Warm Season Grass - Lawn Solutions Australia

Why do some grasses continue to grow during winter? What’s your type of lawn.

There are two main types of lawn – Cool and Warm season.

There are two main types of lawn varieties. Cool season – those that continue growing throughout winter and retain their colour and warm season – grasses that slow down over the winter and can lose some colour.

Warm season are known as C4 grasses and cool season grasses are known as C3 grasses. The C3 & C4 reference refers to carbon, and the number represents how many carbon atoms within each compound. This is where they receive the particular characteristics synonymous for each type.

Warm Season Varieties include: Couch, kikuyu, buffalo and zoysia.

Cool Season Varieties include: Fescue, Ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass and Bent grass.

In Australia, warm season grasses are suited to northern areas and cool season grasses to the far south. Geographically, we have a limited true “cool season” area compared to North America and Europe; hence the reason warm season turf varieties are much more common.

Benefits of cool season grasses…

  • Stay green in winter
  • Striking appearance

The big downfall…

Cool season grasses survive best in cold conditions. Australia is not a cold country. Yes, we do experience cold winters in the southern states, but nothing in comparison to that of some other countries. These grasses will flourish during the winter, but as the temperature warms back up again, they start to wilt and lack the vigour that they had during winter. The only way to maintain a cool season variety like this in most parts of Australia is to pour substantial amounts of water onto it. This can not only be bad for the environment, but it can also be a large swipe at your back pocket when the water bill comes in.

There are some situations in some southern areas where a cool season variety like fescue or rye can be managed with minimal impact on the environment, but rainfall will play a significant part in this.

The most understandable use of cool season turf varieties is through the process of oversowing. Oversowing a lawn with a cool season variety like rye grass, can provide a nice green lawn throughout winter with minimal requirements for additional watering once germinated, but it’s not recommended 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.

An alternative to this process is a new hybrid Bermuda (Couch) variety called TifTuf. TifTuf is a warm season variety that has unseen winter colour retention abilities. Combine this with its dense profile, wear resistance and drought tolerance – you have a hard-working grass for the Australian climate. These qualities mean that it is no longer a necessity to oversow these fields for the winter and the need for big expensive heat lights, for the most part, are no longer necessary as well. TifTuf is also available for home lawns too, so you can have the best of both worlds – a greener home lawn in winter that also requires less water.

If you are looking 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.

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