Many people who have shopped for lawns will have heard the terms “warm season” and “cool season.” On the surface these terms seem relatively self-explanatory; warm season grasses are those that enjoy warmer conditions, and cool season grasses are those that enjoy cooler conditions. And while this line of thought is largely correct, there’s more to these labels than first meets the eye.
Australia, being the relatively warm place it is, is a land that is most often associated with warm season grasses such as Couch, Buffalo, Kikuyu and Zoysia. But a large percentage of the population lives south of the subtropics, where cool season grasses are often a wiser choice.
So what exactly makes a cool season grass? And is a cool season variety the right choice for you? Let’s take a look at all that you need to know about cool season turf.
Defining a cool season turf
The label of “cool season” doesn’t have a terrifically strict definition, and encompasses a wide variety of grasses. Generally speaking they share a few of the following characteristics:
A healthy tolerance to frost
Good shade tolerance
The ability to cope with waterlogged soils
A peak growing period in early/mid spring (when sunlight is more abundant but the soil is still cool)
Germination in soils below 20C
A tendency to brown off in the heat
A lack of rhizomes/stolons which allow a grass to spread over an area (not applicable to all cool season varieties)
While these characteristics are far from uniform across all cool season varieties, a collection of them in the one grass is a good indication that it is a cool season plant.
Popular cool season varieties
The conditions which suit cool season grasses are abundant in Europe and North America, and as such the most popular cool season varieties will have inevitably originated from one of these areas. The most popular cool season grasses in Australia include:
RTF Tall Fescue
Appropriate regions in Australia
So would you be wise to choose a cool season grass for your property? Depending on where you live, the answer could either be clear or confusing.
If you live anywhere that might be considered tropical or subtropical – essentially Sydney and above – you’d be far wiser to choose a warm season grass for your yard. The year-round heat will mean that a cool season grass will be constantly stressed, and may never even take in the first place.
Next comes the “transition zone”, where the answer becomes a little less certain. Melbourne, and even Adelaide and Perth to some extent, experience hot summers but also cool winters which can include frosts. Any area that is frost prone is perfect for cool season grasses, as warm season varieties simply won’t cope with such cold snaps. But because each of these cities has the ability to reach 40C over summer, any lawn owner who has elected to plant a cool season grass will have their work cut out for them over the hotter months.
Those who experience a cold winter and a mild summer (people in Tasmania and in mountainous, elevated areas) are perfectly placed to plant a cool season grass. The lack of extreme heat in these areas will limit the upkeep required over summer, and will allow your lawn to get through winter unscathed.
While not particularly common in Australia, cool season grasses still have their place. If you’ve got any further questions as to whether a cool season variety would represent a wise choice for your patch, don’t hesitate to contact the friendly team at McKays!
Does perennial ryegrass come back every year?
Perennial ryegrass is a type of grass that does indeed come back every year. This is in contrast to annual ryegrass, which only lives for one growing season before dying off. Perennial ryegrass is a popular choice for lawns and turfgrass because it is very hardy and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. It is also relatively low-maintenance, requiring only occasional mowing and watering.
How do you care for perennial ryegrass?
Perennial ryegrass is a versatile and hardy grass that is easy to care for. It tolerates a wide range of soils and climates, and is relatively drought-resistant. However, like all grasses, it does require some basic maintenance in order to stay healthy and looking its best.
Mowing is the most important aspect of care for perennial ryegrass. It should be mowed regularly, at least once a week, to keep it from getting too tall. The height of the grass should be kept at around 3 inches. This will ensure that the grass stays dense and lush, and prevents it from developing bare patches.
Perennial ryegrass also needs to be fertilized periodically. A slow-release fertilizer should be applied every 6-8 weeks during the growing season. This will help the grass to maintain its green color and keep it from getting thin and weak.
Finally, perennial ryegrass needs to be watered regularly. It should be watered deeply and evenly, about 1 inch per week. This will help it to develop a deep root system and stay healthy during periods of drought.
How long does perennial ryegrass take to establish?
Perennial ryegrass is a type of grass that is often used for lawns, pastures, and other areas where a grassy surface is desired. It is a fast-growing grass that can establish itself quickly, often in as little as two weeks. Once established, it is a hardy grass that can tolerate a wide range of conditions, from drought to heavy traffic.
What time of year do you plant perennial ryegrass?
Perennial ryegrass is a cool-season grass, which means that it thrives in cooler temperatures and goes dormant in hot weather. In general, you should plant perennial ryegrass between Autumn and Spring, when the temperatures are cool. This gives the grass the best chance to establish itself.