Harvest Seeds & Native Plants | Australian Native Plant Nursery Sydney

Australian native plant nursery supplying plants, seeds, & tube stock to wholesale and retail customers. We also supply native bush foods.

Native grass as turf

As the drought continues and people become more water-wise, Harvest is frequently asked about Native grasses as lawn substitutes.

More Australians recognise the natural subtle beauty of our native plants and are comfortable moving away from our European heritage and embracing native plants for their lawns etc., of which there are many native solutions for.

There is no native grass being cultivated for sale that will tolerate heavy usage, so if your plan was to use it for playing soccer on every weekend, or if you need to walk in the same place daily (and cannot put in a path), then this is not for you. However, most people don’t use their lawns like this and are just looking for a patch of green for the kids to play on or even just to look at or sit on sometimes; if this is you, then the grasses below are ideal.

 

Getting Started

 

Questions to ask yourself before choosing a grass, or to discuss with our staff. Preparation is the difference between a great lawn and an average one.

 

  1. Is it a sunny site?
  2. What type of soil do I have?
  3. Does it get watered?
    What do I need to use the grass for?
  4. Will children or pets use the lawn?
  5. Are there any drainage issues?
  6. If heavy foot traffic is expected, can I put a path in?

 

 

Steps to Creating a Native Lawn

  1. Spray the existing lawn area with herbicide (at least twice in most cases to ensure all the old turf has died)
  2. Leave the area for a few weeks to be sure the herbicide has worked.
  3. Level the area and if necessary use a native garden mix to fill any holes or topdress.
  4. If soil is compacted, use a pitchfork to aerate the soil.

 

 

Using seed - Plan for spring planting.

  1. Spread the seed evenly over the soil. This can be done by mixing dry soil or sand with the seed to help disperse the seed evenly.
  2. Water well and water gently to avoid dislodging seed, and continue to keep the ground moist until germination, and slowly harden off by watering less until established.
  3. Do not mulch or cover the seed except with a very light layer of sand or native garden mix if the seed really needs holding down (do not plant any deeper than the thickness of the seed itself). In most cases the watering will keep the seed in place and will tamp it into place. (Remember, fairly gentle watering is needed.)
  4. Check for weeds as they will germinate quickly and overtake your grass seedlings, stealing nutrients and water. So, please be reminded to have your area weed free before sowing native grass seed.

 

Using tubes or Grow-cells

Ideally, plan to start in autumn or spring to give your new lawn the best run-up for the heat of summer. (Some grasses prefer a cooler growing situation, others a warm one).

 

  1. Mulch to improve the soil and keep down weeds with fine compost based mulch suitable for native plants.
  2. Plant your tubes at the rate of 10-15 plants per square metre.
  3. Water well for the next 2 weeks or so, depending on if you use grow-cells or tubes and the amount of rain over the establishment time), and continue watering weekly until established. This will take about a month.
  4. Water occasionally during the heat of summer.
  5. Watch for weeds.
  6. Remember that a log or rock is a great place for moisture retention so place those moisture seeking species at the base.

 

Seed versus Plants

Many people have difficulty deciding which method to start their lawn with. Both methods have their advantages.

 

Seed.

  1. Seed is cheaper and is easy to sow.
  2. Seed takes longer to establish (about 8 weeks in summer and 12 weeks in winter)
  3. Less water is needed to establish the lawn over all.
  4. Weed control will be necessary.

 

Grow-cells

  1. Planting grow-cells takes longer and are more expensive to buy than seed.
  2. The plants will be established faster than seed.
  3. Plants are likely to be of local provenance and therefore adapted to the local environmental conditions and won’t pollute the genetic integrity of the local plants in your area.
  4. Follow up maintenance will be required until established such as watering, but once established will require very little.

 

 

So you can see that the person choosing the seed will have spent less money, but more time on their lawn than their neighbour who bought their grass in tubes for more money but is out on the banana lounge enjoying it sooner.

 

 

Tubestock versus Grow-cells

  1. Grow-cells are cheaper and easier to plant.
  2. Your selected grass may not be available in grow-cells. Place your order in advance to be sure you get the plants in the size needed.

 

 

Maintenance

  1. Mow your lawn depending on the species chosen and the effect desired. Use the highest setting on your mower and occasionally leave the catcher off as this will help keep out weeds and if there is any seed at the time of mowing, some of these will germinate, keeping your lawn fresh and lush.
  2. Most native grasses grow during summer and are dormant during winter. This means you should only need to mow them in summer. All the grasses recommended below will keep their green colour over winter, and none need over-sowing.
  3. Fertilizing will only be necessary in extreme cases.

 

 

Grass types

  1. Mostly, native grasses do not have “runners”. This is not a bad thing at all. Have you ever had to pull all the Kikuyu out of your vege-patch or garden? Well, you know what I mean.
  2. Most native grasses grow in clumps, and are spread by seed. It’s a good idea to let the plant set seed at least once a year to keep the lawn fresh, will greatly reduce spacing between the ‘clumps or tussocks’ and provide a wonderful ‘springiness’ to your lawn.

 

Microlaena stipoides “Weeping Meadow Grass” or “Rice Grass”

 

  • This grass is highly recommended for most sites. It will grow well in sun or shade, some forms retaining its lush light green colour even during drought. It will also tolerate and look good in most soil types including waterlogged clay, but does its best in moist well-drained soils in full sun and shady sites. (Shady sites tolerate more dryness).
  • Weeping Meadow Grass mows very well and tolerates light traffic. (It will stand kids and pets playing on it).
  • This grass contains higher nutrients than the exotic grasses being used as feed in paddocks all over Australia for horses and cattle etc.
  • The only small problem with this grass is that the seeds can irritate the skin of long or thick haired dogs. This can very easily be avoided by mowing the grass before the seed matures.
  • Available in seed, grow-cells and tubestock.

 

Chloris truncata “Windmill Grass”

 

  • Windmill Grass is a lovely tussock grass with highly attractive flowers and light green foliage.
  • It is recommended for dry sunny sites but will also tolerate moist soils and some shade.
  • It mows very well, but keeps a dense habit even when not mowed. Great for rocky sites or steep hills.
  • We recommend letting Windmill Grass flower in summer at least every second year as the plants can be short-lived and the resulting seed will keep your lawn healthy.
  • Usually available in seed, grow-cells and tubes.

 

Bothriochloa macra “Red Leg Grass”

 

  • Red Leg Grass is a very hardy, deep green, fine leaved grass that turns a pretty red colour in winter.
  • It is recommended for dry sunny sites, much like the Windmill Grass, but will also grow happily in moist soils.
  • It mows very well, but keeps a dense habit even when not mowed. It should only need mowing after seeding in spring to summer. Great for rocky sites or steep hills.
  • Usually available in seed, grow-cells and tubes.

 

Themeda australis “Kangaroo Grass”

 

  • Kangaroo Grass is a very popular ornamental grass, as well as being suitable for native lawns.
  • It is recommended for dry, rocky or sandy soils in full sun to shade.
  • Kangaroo Grass has adapted differently to the various places it is found throughout Australia; from forest sites it grows taller, from coastal sites it grows shorter. For a lawn, the coastal form is more suitable, not needing as much mowing, although the forest form is perfectly fine provided it is mowed.
  • Kangaroo Grass can have an attractive red tinge to the winter foliage, which contrasts nicely to its normal light grey-green colour.
  • Available in seed, grow-cells and tubes.

 

Austrodanthonia spp. “Wallaby Grass”

 

  • Many forms of Wallaby Grass have a fine textured leaf and small growing habit that makes them suitable for lawns. Ask about the forms local to your area.
  • It is recommended for most soils, in full or part sun. Although it will tolerate the drought and thrive, it may lose its lovely mid-green colour as it dies back a little.
  • Wallaby Grass has very attractive white flowers if left unmowed over summer.
  • Available in seed, grow-cells and tubes.