How to choose the right grass for your home

Dark green grass perfect for high-traffic backyard area
ARTICLE Will Rolfe

How do I choose the right grass for my home?

When choosing the right grass for your property, you could be forgiven for thinking you need an agri-science degree to make sense of it all. Your property’s location, soil type, its primary use, the season, current temperatures, grass strengths and weaknesses and more come into play.

Where do I start my search for the perfect grass?

People often rely on their landscaper, local hardware store or garden centre. Others choose to get expert advice from turf experts who live and breathe grass. Whoever you speak to, make sure they know their stuff.

Man rolling out a ready-lawn

Grass seed or ready roll grass?

It depends on your budget, how fast you need to see a result, what you want out of your grass and how much maintenance time you’re willing to put into it. Also, what will work best on your site?

When considering grass seed, the American ornamental grasses were a popular choice for their picture-perfect Remuera carpet grass look. But the harder-wearing Kikuyu and Couch grasses are popular thanks to their low-maintenance and resilience. They’re draught tolerant and tend to recover well on their own. And because they’re built tough, they’re perfect if you have children who spend a lot of time outside.

There are many other seed varieties, including Tall Fescue, which is a lush green carpet grass and is perfect for Auckland conditions. Fine Fescue, which is similar to Tall Fescue, but because it doesn’t handle humidity well, is not a good option for Auckland; Rye grass, which is seen on a lot of sports grounds, but requires full sun and daily watering throughout summer; and Mixed Blends, which are not recommended as they’re more expensive to control weeds and other problems arise.

When considering ready roll grass, you need to choose the best quality you can afford. The higher the quality the easier the maintenance, not to mention you’ll be more assured it will continue to look as good as they day you installed it. One of the issues with ready lawn is much of it has been grown in clay. Once installed on your property it may not take well to your soil type and leave you wishing you made another choice. So first check with your landscaping specialist that it was grown in quality soil or sandy soil. You’ll pay more for it but the results speak for themselves.

Does my site’s size impact my options?

Sometimes. If you have a bigger site and budget is a consideration, choose seeding. Small sites can work well for seeding too, otherwise use ready roll lawn. With ready roll it’s quick, which is perfect for people with little time to water-in seed. Sloping sites can be better for ready lawn too, because in area with high rain volumes, seeds move which creates uneven grass growth.

For the best lawn, choose a professional turf product with the backing of its grower. That way if you have any issues, like dog damage, they can sort it quickly, as they know exactly what went into your property.

Lush grass on sloped site

What about protecting my pets?

This used to be a concern, when certain products had lead in them to keep the birds away from your seed. But everything you buy now is safe. That’s because the industry was tightened up in July 2015 and what you get now is a lot more environmentally-friendly.

What is the best season to plant or install a fresh lawn?

Spring and autumn are perfect grass growing seasons for American ornamentals, tall fescues and fine fescues. That’s because there’s a little bit of rain around. Couch and Kikuyu are used from mid-November to mid-March to achieve good germination with good coverage. During winter months you are limited to Rye, which can also be planted year-round.

Are there grass types more suited to different areas of New Zealand?

In general, Rye is popular in the north and US ornamentals are popular in the south. Auckland is tough on grass growing due to its humidity, so hardier grasses are more suited for this region. However, Christchurch has perfect grass growing conditions for pretty much all grass types.

I want it now

If you want to have it now, there are certain grasses that will grow year-round or be perfect for the season you’re in now. Not a lot of grasses will germinate in the cooler months of winter, which is why Rye grass is popular, as it will germinate 12-months of the year and establish really quickly. But is Rye really the best option for your property? Alternatively, ready lawn is the way to go, but make sure it was grown in quality conditions.

You might be interested in reading: How to create the perfect lawn for your home.


Get in touch with Zones to discuss your landscaping project

If you would like to discuss grass options and ideas for your outdoor landscaping project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your landscaping design and build. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.

*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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