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Managing Climate Change With Living Turf

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Updated: January 29, 2020

As drought conditions worsen, landscapers across the country are no doubt being asked about alternatives to natural turf. However, it’s important that households across the country are thinking about the bigger picture – the far-reaching benefits of living turf.

It’s worth noting that in most jurisdictions under water restrictions, watering lawn remains permitted under certain conditions. Conditions vary between regions, but most jurisdictions allow exemptions to restrictions for the establishment of new lawn. Even in the NSW town of Dubbo, which has been one of most affected by drought and is experiencing Level 4 restrictions, watering lawn at certain times remains permitted and exemptions for new lawns still apply.

Nevertheless, experts in the turf industry are investing heavily in the creation of drought resistant, less-thirsty grasses. These varieties look great all year round and make the perfect recommendation for clients who want to use less water, but still want all the proven benefits of a healthy living lawn.

Some of the most common drought resistant varieties include:

  • Couch – many couch varieties have been bred to stand up to tough drought conditions, dry weather and infrequent weather. Some varieties can even survive on as little as 12mm of irrigation per week
  • Soft leaf buffalo – another low maintenance turf, which retains a natural green colour throughout the seasons. Most varieties require little to no watering over winter and no more than once per week over the hottest months
  • Zoysia – these grasses are some of the lowest maintenance grasses on the market, require little mowing and thrive in Australian conditions.

Remember, it’s more water-efficient to give lawn a deep water once a week than more frequent lighter waters.

Many progressive water authorities are working with industry to ensure that restrictions still allow the survival of lawn because they understand the role that natural turf plays in keeping us healthy, happy, cool and even wealthy.

However, in today’s climate, the number one concern of many households is how they can reduce their carbon footprint.

Installing turf brings the dual benefit attached to the use of less cooling as a result of houses that are surrounded by green space. Not only do households need to use less electricity to cool their homes, it also reduces the carbon footprint of the family. Anything a household can do to reduce its carbon footprint should be explored and encouraged.

Speaking of carbon, did you know that turf plays a key role in sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere? Turf plays the role of a carbon sponge, reducing the negative impacts of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide through photosynthesis.

But for many families, financial security and stability will always be the priority. Well, turf comes up trumps here too. Turf Australia previously covered research findings that indicate that a nicely presented lawn could increase the value of a home by up to 20 per cent. Well, a new study has corroborated these findings and extrapolated them to rental conditions. According to a recent project undertaken by the Balmoral Group, homes with turfed lawns attract a market premium as they are desired for the benefits they provide.

The research, which is a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Turf Fund, calculated the extra rent a property earns as a result of having turfed lawn.

This ranges from $1.55 per square metre a year in Hobart up to $4.45 per square metre a year in Sydney.

So, whatever motivates your clients, whether it be financial security of environmental impact, make sure you point them in the direction of natural turf.

Visit the Turf Australia website (www.turfaustralia.com.au) for more information and to connect with your local grower.