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Should You Choose A Zoysia Or Buffalo Lawn?
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Should You Choose A Zoysia Or Buffalo Lawn?

Augusta ZoysiaA beautiful lawn can instantly turn your home into a haven, providing the perfect backdrop for family memories, not to mention improving the value of your home. But with so many grass varieties to choose from, it can be confusing to decide which lawn variety will provide the best result for your needs.

In this article, we explore two popular warm-season grass varieties – Zoysia and Buffalo grasses. Both renowned for their luxurious colour and low maintenance, these two varieties are both great choices, but which one is the real winner in the Zoysia vs Buffalo face-off?

Features of Zoysia Grass

Native to south-east Asia, Zoysia grass is a fine-medium textured variety that truly thrives in warm, humid areas, making it an ideal choice for the tropical and subtropical regions of Queensland. That said, Zoysias are increasing in popularity in the southern states, and depending on the variety, can be an equally successful choice in warm temperate climates.

Zoysia grasses are a particularly good choice for homeowners who are looking for a low maintenance lawn as they require little mowing or watering. Featuring a deep-rooted system, Zoysia is very efficient at preserving moisture and stabilising soils, which means they also have exceptional drought and wear tolerance. There are several types of Zoysia that you can choose from, each with its own set of unique features, so you should consider the suitability of each variety when choosing a Zoysia grass for your yard.

Shade Tolerance

No lawn will survive in darkness, but Zoysia does have a moderate shade tolerance, allowing it to survive on as little as 2-3 hours of sunlight per day. This makes it suitable for gardens with large trees, or fewer hours of sunlight in winter.

Drought Tolerance

Zoysia grass is known for its drought tolerance. One of the main benefits of Zoysia grass is that it can survive on natural rainfall alone thanks to its deep-rooted system. It is this tolerance to dry conditions that make it a flexible variety that is suited to many Australian climates, and a low maintenance option for homeowners who want a beautiful lawn without having to worry about watering it frequently.

Maintenance Requirements

Zoysia lawns are renowned for being low maintenance, requiring less mowing, watering and fertilising than other popular lawn varieties. Perfect for the busy homeowner.

Zoysia grass needs less frequent mowing compared to other types of grasses. You should mow to a height of between 35mm to 45mm fortnightly through the spring and summer months. Through the cooler months, you can mow every 4-6 weeks.

Newly installed Zoysia grasses will need watering, but once established, this variety can survive on rainwater alone. Watering in winter will improve winter colour, and prevent damage from frost. Summer watering will prevent your lawn from drying out and turning brown. However, Zoysia has the ability to withstand long periods of drought without drying, which means it will go dormant but will green up again once water is available.

Zoysia grasses need to be fed once or twice a year with fertiliser.

Wear Tolerance

Zoysia grasses have deep roots and ​​underground runners, which means they have excellent wear tolerance and outstanding recovery in even the toughest conditions, making them ideal for family homes.

Popular Zoysia Varieties

Empire Zoysia

Empire Zoysia is a soft, fine-leaf grass that is easy to manage and has excellent drought tolerance. It has a strong green colour through the cooler months, and has minimal maintenance in terms of mowing, watering and fertilising. It also has high wear tolerance, making it ideal for homes virtually anywhere across the country.

 

Nara Native Zoysia

Nara Native is Australian born and bred, has a fine to medium leaf, a dark green colour, and is a hard-wearing, low maintenance variety. Naturally salt tolerant, it is ideal for coastal homes and has high resistance to pests and diseases. Despite being a native grass, Nara Native Zoysia still has the attractive appearance of a domestic lawn and is a terrific all-rounder that performs under tough conditions.

Augusta Zoysia

Augusta is a stunning deep green lawn that has a very high shade tolerance and requires less mowing, fertilising and watering than other grass varieties. Its deep-rooted system makes it an efficient water user and exceptionally suitable for drought-prone regions, and areas with low rainfall or council water restrictions. Augusta has higher disease and insect resistance compared to many other warm-season types of grass.

Features of Buffalo Grass

Buffalo grass is an Australian favourite for a variety of reasons. It has an attractive deep green colour, tolerance to a variety of climatic extremes, and is resistant to weeds thanks to its vigorous growth. This warm season grass is known for maintaining good colour throughout the year, and is one of the most shade-tolerant grasses available. New varieties have been bred to feel soft and luxurious underfoot, making Buffalo a highly desirable variety for homeowners.

Shade Tolerance

Thanks to its broad leaves, which enhance photosynthesis, Buffalo varieties are known for their exceptional shade tolerance, requiring as little as 3-4 hours of sunlight each day to not only survive, but thrive. Sapphire Buffalo is one of the most shade tolerant varieties on the market, tolerating up to 70% shade in dry conditions.

Drought tolerance

Buffalo grass grows well in full sun, and has a large, deep rooted system, which allows it to grow deep into the soil to obtain moisture, making it an efficient water user, and a good choice for drier areas in Australia.

All lawns require additional watering through summer to prevent drying out, but Buffalo has good recovery from water stress thanks to its fast growth habit, which means it will stay greener for longer through the drier months.

Maintenance requirements

Lawn mowing heights for Soft Leaf Buffalo grass should be higher than for other turf varieties. To maintain a healthy lawn, mow at 25mm – 50mm, and increase to 50mm – 70mm in shaded areas. Buffalo grass is a low thatch variety, which means less dethatching maintenance is required to keep it looking great.

Within a half an hour installing your new Buffalo lawn, you should give it 20mm to 30mm of water so that the soil beneath the grass is saturated. Frequent and shallow watering is recommended once your lawn is established. The deep roots of Buffalo grass means it can draw moisture from the soil, helping it survive during dry, hot conditions.

Regular fertiliser application will keep your Buffalo grass strong and healthy. You can add a slow-release fertiliser on your Buffalo lawn once a month after installation. Once your Buffalo grass is established, apply fertiliser during April and early September. Avoid over-fertilising in summer.

Buffalo grasses are resistant to most pests, weeds and diseases compared to other lawn varieties, however, you should keep an eye out for Lawn Grubs and African Black Beetles. Buffalo is terrific at outcompeting weeds, especially if it is kept healthy. Weeds should be monitored, and treated with a pesticide that is suitable for your particular Buffalo grass.

Wear tolerance

Buffalo grasses recover quickly from wear, making them ideal for backyards with pets and children.

Popular Buffalo varieties

Prestige Buffalo

One of the most popular Buffalo varieties in eastern Australia, Prestige Buffalo is known for its consistent deep green colour, hard wearing, good recovery and drought tolerance.  For sun and shade tolerance, Prestige Buffalo will tolerate up to 70% shade with low wear, and up to 50% shade with moderate to high wear.

Sapphire Buffalo

If you’re looking for soft-feel Buffalo grass with high shade tolerance, Sapphire Buffalo is your best choice. Independent research has found that Sapphire Soft Leaf Buffalo, in 70% shade cover, maintains quality and growth and outperforms other Buffalo varieties. Featuring a deep green colour that is maintained through winter, Sapphire is a water-efficient, low maintenance lawn variety.

Palmetto Buffalo

The biggest selling Buffalo in the world, Palmetto offers low maintenance, less watering and is a great hard-wearing option for a family with kids and pets. Palmetto’s dense growth means it is harder for weeds to invade the lawn.

Zoysia vs Buffalo - The Verdict

So which grass should you choose for your home lawn? It depends.

If you’re seeking the manicured, golf-course aesthetic, the fine leaf features of Zoysia grass is hard to beat. That said, Buffalo has the upper hand when it comes to year-long appearance, maintaining good colour year-round thanks to its high shade tolerance through winter.

While both varieties are low maintenance, when it comes to reducing your gardening workload Zoysia is the clear winner. With fortnightly mowing through summer, and 4-6 week intervals through winter, the busy (or lazy) homeowner won’t need to get out the mower too often. Zoysia also requires very little watering and feeding throughout the year to survive.

Zoysia grasses are ideal for tropical and subtropical climates, but may not perform as well in more temperate zones of Australia. For a great all-rounder, Buffalo will grow successfully in most Australian locations, which is why it is one of the most popular varieties on the market.

Pricewise, Buffalo and Zoysia are comparable. Buffalo varieties range from $12-$20 per square metre, while Zoysia grass varieties range from $12-$27 per square metre.  

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance lawn for your backyard, warm-season varieties Zoysia and Buffalo are both beautiful choices. Drought, shade and wear tolerant, both are great solutions for homes with children and pets. If you’re after a clipped, fine-leafed look that requires little attention, then Zoysia is a low-mow solution that looks elegant and feels soft and luxurious underfoot. But if outstanding colour, high wear tolerance and low weed management are high on your list, long standing favourite Buffalo grass is hard to beat.

The best person to advise on the right grass selection for your home is a local turf farmer or supplier, who will be familiar with the conditions in your local area. Use Find a Turf Supplier to locate a supplier in your area.

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