Go for green - Types of lawn in South Africa

Lawn often makes up most of a garden, and when healthy, forms a lush, green carpet perfect for outdoor family get-togethers or for lying upon and soaking up the African sun.

 

By Roelof Strydom

 

A green lawn is something that most homeowners strive for, but sometimes pests, weeds and diseases get in the way of having that dream verdant look. Here’s a look at some common lawn types in South Africa.

Kikuyu

Kikuyu is the most commonly found lawn type in South Africa and is a great choice for a family lawn in sunny areas. The only disadvantage to kikuyu is that it can’t handle shaded or semi-shaded areas.

 

It is susceptible to diseases in shady and wet areas. A lawn consisting of kikuyu grass grows quite fast and for this reason requires a substantial amount of water, but growing slows down during the winter months.

 

The grass needs to be mowed regularly (once a week) if you want it looking good at all times. Frequent mowing of a kikuyu lawn will thin out the grass blades and lead to a finer texture, which will make for a soft and comfortable lawn on which to walk and play.

 

A properly cared for kikuyu lawn will be deep green in colour.

 

Buffalo

Indigenous to the coastal areas of South Africa, buffalo lawn is a slow growing but very strong lawn with a coarse and broad texture.

 

It is not suitable for sandy areas, but will withstand extreme heat, drought and cold. Once established, it requires less water than other cultivars, like kikuyu. Even though it requires less water, a buffalo lawn’s watering schedule should be regular, but in smaller quantities.

 

It is of utmost importance that you never neglect a buffalo lawn because if it doesn’t receive the minimum water it requires, it will die and because it has no self-reviving qualities, it won’t become green again.

 

Watering should only be done in the morning so that the lawn has water in the soil throughout the day. Avoid watering a buffalo lawn in the evenings because if the water sits on the lawn overnight, fungal diseases may appear.

 

Buffalo lawn will grow in shaded and semi-shaded areas, but it will not flourish as it would in sunny areas. The downside to this lawn is that it requires a lot of patience as it takes some time to establish itself and adapt to new areas.

 

The upside is that once an area is covered, it is a strong, low maintenance lawn that only needs to be mowed once a month. Buffalo lawn is dormant from April to September.

As part of its maintenance schedule, you need to be on the lookout for weeds as they tend to overtake this slow growing lawn.

 

Berea

This is a very popular grass type for lawns in Kwazulu-Natal or where there is sandy soil.

 

Berea, also known as LM grass, is an excellent choice for shady areas, but not suitable for high traffic areas. It has a soft, broad blade and a high disease and insect tolerance.

 

The growing rate of Berea is slower than kikuyu, but faster than buffalo and only has to be mowed about twice a month. It needs less water than kikuyu, but more than buffalo. During winter it is dormant.

 

The root system of Berea grass grows directly under the lawn, growing sideways and not downwards. Some roots can become as long as 8m and all these long roots have smaller roots as well.

 

This means that if a certain patch of grass does not get sunlight, it is still supported by the long roots transferring sunlight from the sunny areas to the shady areas.

 

Cynodon

Cynodon, also known as Kaapse kweek, is a fine-textured grass with a deep root system.

 

It is very invasive and difficult to get rid of. If there is a patch of cynodon among another cultivar and care is not taken, the cynodon will take over very easily.

 

Cynodon is a tough grass, perfect for high traffic areas such as play areas. It grows very fast during summer and is drought resistant.

 

During winter it turns from green to a straw colour as it goes dormant and when spring comes along, it turns green again. It doesn’t grow well in shady areas or during extremely cold periods.

 

A cynodon lawn requires a lot of maintenance, however. If cared for properly, it will form a thick mat consisting of thousands of fine blades.

 

Read about different lawn pestslawn diseases  and lawn weeds common to South African.