Couch Grass in Focus
29 September 2021
Couch grass (known as Bermuda grass in the US) is a warm season grass that is native to most areas of the eastern hemisphere. These grasses are commonly known to be highly drought and wear tolerant.
A manicured couch lawn can look great in front of your home, however a bit more time and effort is required due its fast growth rate.
Couch grass thrives in full sun areas and has very strong horizontal growth. This allows it to tolerate very low mowing heights. These strong growth habits also attribute to its ability to handle high amounts of traffic, whilst enabling it to recover quicker if affected by wear and stress. This makes couch turf suitable for large areas such as sports fields, golf courses and parks or recreational areas.
These grasses can grow in a range of soil types, from sandy soils to light clays and prefer a pH between 6 and 7.5.
Couches are not one of the most shade tolerant turf types, needing in most cases a bare minimum of 5-6 hours direct sunlight a day. Newer varieties however, like TifTuf Hybrid Bermuda (couch) have shown significantly better shade tolerance than existing couches varieties.
Couch grasses have a great ability to recover from wear, with underground stems called rhizomes to repair from as well as aboveground stems called stolons.
Important points for installation of couch grass
Install the grass as soon as possible after delivery
- Lay on a bed of 50 to 100mm of quality turf underlay
- Launcher fertiliser is not recommended during the peak growing season (Sept to March)
- Roll to compact new turf to improve contact with the soil
- Soak the newly laid turf thoroughly for 10 to 14 days after installation or until fully established
- Reduce irrigation once established and water only when the grass appears dry
- Mow as soon as the grass has rooted in to promote lateral growth. This could be as early as 3 to 5 days after installation during the warmer months.
Couch Grass Maintenance
Couch grasses naturally have a good drought tolerance. TifTuf Hybrid Bermudain particular is an extremely drought tolerant couch variety, requiring considerably less water to maintain acceptable growth and appearance. TifTuf is the only couch grass, or grass of any type for that matter in Australia to have been awarded the Smart Approved WaterMark for its low water requirements.
- If watering is necessary once established, water only when there are signs of the grass drying out, as excess irrigation can hinder the grass rather than help
- Do not overwater in the cooler months
- If irrigation is needed, water deeply to soak the top 100mm of soil
- Water early morning for improved efficiency and plant health
Couch turf’s growth habit allows it to be mown at a range of heights. They can be kept as low as 4mm or let to grow out to 36mm depending on the usage requirements. If a couch lawn is left for long periods without mowing, caution must be taken not to take too much leaf at once.
- Ensure mower blades are sharp
- Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf at any one time unless dethatching
- Mowing frequency can be reduced with controlled irrigation and fertiliser
- Couch grasses are best kept between 9mm and 36mm in home lawns; below 25mm is recommended for best appearance
- If excess scalping occurs, increase mowing height, and allow leaf to regrow to desired level
- If needed, dethatch in early spring for best results
Couch grasses perform their best when fertilised regularly throughout the year. It is important to consider whole of plant health when applying fertiliser and to avoid the over-stimulation of leaf growth with excessive nitrogen, particularly during the warmer months.
- Liquid iron, natural colourants and other micronutrients can improve colour without the use of nitrogen-based fertilisers
- Add nutrients in measured amounts and monitor growth and health of the grass before reapplying
TifTuf was specifically bred to require less inputs than other warm season grasses. TifTuf requires less than 1/3 the amount of fertiliser to maintain healthy growth and appearance.
Weed and pest control
The rapid coverage and dense undergrowth of couch turf, along with its low input requirements and winter growth activity mean that couch can compete quite successfully with weeds and other turf grass species that may try to invade your lawn.
Couch grass also resists several pests and diseases but may need some assistance from time to time. A couch lawn can be treated with most commonly available chemicals that are suitable for couch grasses. Ensure application directions are followed and if unsure, it is always a good idea to check with your Lawn Solutions Australia supplier for chemical compatibility before use.
Lawn Solutions Australia supplies TifTuf Hybrid Bermuda (couch grass) which is the only grass in Australia to be Smart WaterMark Approved for drought tolerance. This makes it the best choice in couch turf for our harsh Australian climate.
As always, if you have any more questions please don’t hesitate to contact us for free expert advice on 1800ALLTURF (1800255873) or 07 5543 8304.
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