Buffalo Lawn Thatch
When purchasing a new lawn, you may not consider thatch build up the most important aspect. That is possibly because the top three Buffalo varieties in Australia are all low thatch types, and common Kikuyu and Kenda®Kikuyu are also low thatch. Everyone assumes that all new Buffalo and Kikuyu types will be low thatch, but unfortunately even some of the new ones do not have low thatch. So be very careful when purchasing a new Buffalo or Kikuyu lawn and make sure it is low thatch.
The previous owner of this website clearly showed the importance of thatch, but as high thatch types are becoming more popular, we felt it was important to again highlight the importance of this characteristic, as well as list the popular low thatch turf grasses.
In colder climates such as Melbourne and Canberra, higher thatch lawns are less problematic, but in most of Australia, where mild winters dominate, and long hot periods are the norm, thatch can be a real issue for grass.
Zoysia types in Australia were always high thatch, that is until new low thatch types became available and now low thatch Zoysia types, such as Empire™Zoysia japonica 'SS500' PBR and Nara™Zoysia macrantha 'MAC03' PBR, have really gained popularity. Grasses like Zoysia tenufolia and Zoysia matrella, although available, never really took off due to high levels of thatch. Empress, the sister grass of Empire™, never became popular due to high thatch levels. So for now the most popular Zoysia lawns are low thatch, but we expect as the popularity of Zoysia continues to grow, higher thatch types will be released.
For now choosing a low thatch Zoysia is easy, as they are the main types sold. That will probably change in the future as more matrella types are released.
Traditional scratchy Buffalo from the 1970's and Shade Master Buffalo of the 1990's have something in common, they both thatch really badly. They become spongy, and have maintenance problems. The excessive thatch scalps badly leaving brown dead looking patches. A Buffalo lawn with high thatch often becomes old and tired, being difficult to mow, and can be slow to green up in periods of seasonal change.
Sir Walter, Palmetto® and Sapphire® are all low thatch varieties, and the turf industry has become complacent about thatch in Buffalo, as the good types no longer have a problem. None of the new popular types have kept this trend alive, so for now you can only rely on the three original improved types of Buffalo to be low thatch. People have relished the benefits of these low thatch grasses since the early 2000’s. All have their advantages, like Sapphire® being number one for shade, Palmetto® being low maintenance, and Sir Walter being a good all-rounder.
New breeding has produced very quick growing Buffalo types, but with this fast growth comes more thatch problems. These type of lawns although great for the turf farmer as they are ready for sale quickly, leave customers with tired old lawns a couple of years down the track.
So the original better breeds of Buffalo are still the best for general home lawns. Palmetto®, Sapphire® and Sir Walter. The new types of fast growing Buffalo types should only be used if good thatch management is in place. Each two years either top dressing, or dethatching is important for these faster growing Buffalo types. There are benefits of the super-fast growing Buffalo Lawns (eg; Good Wear tolerance), but the advantages are lost quickly if thatch is not managed. Unfortunately, most people do not have time for all this extra maintenance, so it simply makes more sense to buy a low thatch Buffalo type.
Of all the popular Buffalo types, only Palmetto®, Sapphire® and Sir Walter are actually low thatch. Some of the new ones to hit the market, the fast speed of growth may help with wear, but after they thatch badly, they no longer have those benefits. Worse the spongy habit makes mowing hard, and greatly reduces performance. Unfortunately a lot of the Buffalo testing in research highlighted on this site was only for a relatively short time. So although they may do well in wear and drought tolerance tests short term, there is no research to show how they compare to low thatch varieties that have been proven over the test of time. As Buffalo lawns age, thatch is the main issue, so to keep it safe, it is recommended to choose from low thatch types, as your first important criteria.
On sporting fields with high maintenance, thatch becomes simply a maintenance issue. But on a home lawns, thatch management is far more important, as mowing frequencies are much less. For this reason low thatch Kikuyu types are really important. Generally common Kikuyu is low thatch, as too is Kenda®Kikuyu.
Couch lawns are generally low thatch, but Santa Ana is definitely a high thatch variety. It’s main market is in Melbourne, where thatch levels are easier to control. It is not popular in Sydney, Perth, and Brisbane. If you live in these type of climates, really consider thatch as the main buying criteria, if you want a lawn that will thrive for many years.
Please note: Where 'New Content' is written at the top of an article this content has been added by the new owners of this website. If 'New Content' is not written, the information is from the previous site owner.