TURF IN HIGH DEMAND
24 October 2011
Seventy per cent of turf ends up in Aussie backyards, but the commercial market is about to explode, says Turf Australia.
Although seventy per cent of turf ends up in Aussie backyards, the commercial market is about to explode, according to Turf Australia, the national representative body for turf growers in Australia.
Turf is in high demand in regions that are rebuilding after the recent storms and floods, as councils repair public spaces and businesses restore corporate grounds.
Australia’s 300 turf growers, many of which are located in the disaster-affected states of Queensland and Victoria, will produce and service more than 10,000 turf surfaces over the next 12 months.
“Turf is very hardy and despite drought and flood the crop bounces back quite quickly. Australian turf growers have a consistent supply of quality grasses ready for spring and summer laying,” says Anthony Muscat, board member of Turf Australia and owner of Greener Lawn.
“Turf is essential in the backyards, playing fields, school playgrounds, golf courses, bowling greens, tennis courts, racing tracks, parks and gardens where we spend our leisure time.
“Regardless of the size of the project, Australian growers can provide turf year-round. We also cater to special events such as Breakfast on the Bridge where we’ve laid one hectare of turf on the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” he says.
In Australia, warm season grasses such as Couch, Buffalo and Kikuyu, and cool season grass such as Fescue are the most popular types. Warm season grasses dominate the market as they require less water to stay healthy-looking.
“Homeowners, landscapers and green keepers alike should ensure they get the right grass type for their climate. Grasses can also be chosen according to how fast they grow, to suit the level of maintenance people prefer,” says Anthony.
The turf production and maintenance industry employs 80,000 people and is worth over $3bn to the Australian economy each year.
All turf growers who sell over 20,000m2 of turf annually pay an industry levy. The levy is matched dollar for dollar by the government which helps support research and development of new grasses specifically suited to the Australian climate.
Turf growers sell via retailers and direct to the public. They provide expert advice on common and specialised grasses to ensure each customer gets the right grass for the job.
Turf production by geography and size
New South Wales - 34%
Queensland - 42%
Victoria - 8%
Western Australia - 11%
South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory combined - 5%
Tips for choosing and caring for your lawn
Whether you’re looking for turf for residential or commercial use, the most important consideration is to ensure it suits the purpose for which it is intended.
Factors to consider include geographical location, amount of shade, intended purpose, and the level of maintenance you are willing to undertake.
Common grass types
The wide variety of warm and cool season grasses have different attributes with relation to drought, disease and pest resistance. Growth speed and heights also vary, impacting on the level of maintenance required and desired look.
Couch grass – A warm season grass with many varieties, Couch is one of the most popular grasses across Australia. It has low growth and high tolerance to drought and salt, with varying tolerance to shade.
Buffalo grass – No longer scratchy and hard; new soft leaf varieties are more comfortable to relax on. It is a warm season grass with strong self-repairing attributes and shade tolerance and is considered low-maintenance in comparison to other grass types.
Kikuyu grass – Also a very popular warm season grass choice due to self-sufficient, drought tolerant qualities, affordability and durability. Grows vigorously and requires frequent mowing throughout spring and summer.
Fescue grass – This cool season grass is usually grown from seed and lacks the regeneration qualities of warm season grasses. Fescue is a thirstier grass type, requiring regular watering to remain lush and green.
Lawn installation and maintenance
It doesn’t take much to ensure your lawn or grassed area looks its best year-round. Spring is the best time to do an annual health check on your existing lawn, but new turf can be laid in all seasons.
1. When choosing new turf, consider how it will be used and choose a type that suits the climate and level of maintenance you’re prepared to give
2. This is a job not to be tackled lightly; for best results, talk to an expert about the right laying method
1. Early in the season, warm season lawns (Buffalo, Kikuyu, Couch) require only a light trimming of grass leaf-tips. Heavy mowing can leave you with a brown lawn for a few weeks.
2. For cool season grasses(Fescue)allow the grass to grow to approximately 2.5cm to let the light and warmth penetrate the root zone and reduce moisture loss.
3. Spring is also a great time to get your mower serviced and blades sharpened or replaced to prepare for more frequent mowing in summer.
1. Soil compaction, caused by heavy use by people and vehicles, can make a lawn unhealthy and prone to weeds.
2. If you can’t insert a garden fork into the soil to half way down the tines, the lawn is compacted.
3. For small lawns, work the garden fork back and forth at 10cm intervals to open up the soil. On larger lawns it may be worthwhile using a coring or aerating machine (available for hire)to do the job quickly and thoroughly.
1. Most types of grasses grow slowly in winter, giving weeds, such as dandelion, clover, cat’s ear and bindii, the opportunity to grow strongly.
2. If you only have a few weeds, it’s easy to dig them out by hand. For more severe weed problems, talk to a gardening centre for weed control options.
1. Light, slow-release fertiliser at the start of spring gives best colour and helps your lawn reach its peak.
2. Spread fertiliser evenly and follow up with a good, deep watering.
Talk to your turf grower for expert advice on how to choose and care for the right type of grass for you, or visit the Turf Australia website: www.turfaustralia.com.au