When it comes to grass, the questions are endless. Can you cut wet grass? How to rake dead grass the right way? How often to water grass in hot weather? And then, you might be wondering why there’s an article on the internet that talks about watering an invasive type of weed. However, all our garden-enthusiasts can relax. We’re talking about Cynodon dactylon, aka couch grass, aka Bermuda grass. It’s generally found in warm climates but has naturalised in the British Isles. It’s common in southern England and a few sites in northern England and Wales too.
If you’re looking for hardy warm-season grass that doesn’t require too much lawn care and can grow in low water conditions – then you can’t do much better than the Cynodon dactylon. Speaking of drought-resistant turf, our article won’t just tell you how often to water your couch grass, but we’ll also include some insights on other grass varieties and general lawn maintenance. Ready?
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What is couch grass and how to identify it?
It’s an excellent warm-season grass, and it’s renowned for its ability to withstand drought. It’s highly tolerant to wear and tear, has vivid green hues, and is quite soft under the feet too. If you’re searching for turf that’s suitable for backyards – where your kids and pets can play to their heart’s content without suffering any damage – look no further!
The best part is, that it isn’t unseemly to look at. It has fine-leafed blades with a dark-green colour. It doesn’t lose its colour due to little or no water or poor quality soil. The turf’s shade tolerance clocks in at about 10% (like Kikuyu), meaning its capacity to survive in low light conditions isn’t too high.
It’s highly suitable for anyone who wants a lush lawn without too much work, frequent watering, and other care requirements. Compared to different turf varieties, this grass practically takes care of itself.
Key properties and requirements
We’ve already mentioned its shade tolerance isn’t too high, which means it needs to be planted in full sun areas to thrive and experience horizontal growth and keep to low mowing heights.
Couch variety turfs need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day to cultivate well and require soil with a pH range between 6 and 7.5. They do well in multiple soil types, from light clays to sandy soils.
However, its ability to tolerate the effects of wear is directly linked to its ability to grow strong. Planting yours in shaded areas can affect its ability to bounce back (due to its rhizomes) from extensive use – making it more susceptible to damage.
All of which makes this turf variety perfect for large open spaces and preferably away from structures that cast a lot of shade. However, if you’re worried about the state of your lawn when winter brings its overcast skies, don’t stress. You can always opt for Hybrid Bermuda varieties that have a higher tolerance for shade.
How often should you water couch grass?
When it comes to new turf (aka newly laid grass), it will require deep watering once every seven days. However, once the grass manages to set up its deep roots, you need only water the lawn adequately when the blades seem to wilt a little.
The lack of grassroots means that you’ll have to ensure the new lawn receives plenty of water until the roots and rhizomes grow deep enough to draw water from the soil. A newly laid lawn during the summer can require watering as often as four times a day. That may sound like a lot of work, but not if you have a sprinkler system in place.
For instance, Sir Walter Buffalo grass generally arrives without any roots and requires ample watering until the establishment is done. An excellent way to tell if your newly laid couch lawn needs watering is if the blades start to brown a little.
Conversely, established lawns that have a robust root system in place only require watering once every week. It’s best to keep watering the lawn in early mornings so that the grass has time to absorb the moisture before the heat kicks in. During the winters, it won’t require too much water, thanks to its low evaporation rate.
However, even though it’s a warm-season lawn variety, it might need frequent watering on sandy soils even after establishment. You can even rely on wetting agents to ensure the roots are getting the moisture they need.
Avoid overwatering your lawn because it can lead to uneven growth and affect the feel and quality of the grass. Remember, the rule of watering your lawn is only water whenever your lawn needs it.
Why opt for couch grass for your new lawn
We’ve already touched upon some reasons why it can be an exceptional turf grass choice. But, just in case you want to know the full spectrum of benefits of a healthy lawn with Bermuda grass, this section is for you.
1. It can thrive during a dry spell
Droughts aren’t new to the UK, plus rapid weather anomalies mean that when hot weather makes an appearance – you should have the kind of turf that doesn’t yellow and wither away at the prospect of less water.
Thankfully, it has deep roots, which means even when it dries off due to a prolonged lack of water, it has the ability to bounce back fast thanks to high levels of drought tolerance. A couch lawn is ideal for areas that face water restrictions in summers. After all, there’s a reason why this turf does so well under the scorching Australian sun.
2. It’s soft under the feet
Believe it or not, quite a few people are put off from enjoying the benefits of walking bare feet on their lawn because of how the grass feels. Grass types can have different widths, colours, tips, and folds, which affect appearance and impact the way grass feels.
It’s classified as a fine-leaf turf. That means the blades of this type of grass are dense and soft under the feet. It is also why you’ll experience less water evaporation and can get away with a limited amount of water to keep the grass hearty and hale.
3. It’s more tolerant to saltwater
If you’re situated around coastal areas, you likely suffer from salty soils that interfere with the way your plants and grass absorb nutrients and water. However, it also has a high salt tolerance, making it perfect for areas with less than ideal soil.
4. It has vivid colouring
Another reason why it is so popular with homeowners is its dark green hues that don’t fade out quite as fast as other turf varieties. You’ll be happy to know that it can maintain its deep colouring even where soil quality is poor and offers inadequate nutrition.
5. It’s tolerant to high levels of activity
It qualifies as hard-wearing grass that can tolerate a high level of activity without losing its shape. Most of this is thanks to the turf’s ability to form a thatch layer that keeps the blades from flattening out completely. Plus, the root system is deep and helps the grass dig in to maintain its grip and growth.
Other do’s and don’ts of lawn care
- Couch grass doesn’t need too much fertiliser to stay healthy and green. Try to save the fertilising activities for the growing season (during warm months) and only fertilise once every two weeks.
- Another of its finer points is that it doesn’t require frequent mowing, thanks to its horizontal growth. You can mow yours twice a month during the spring and summer seasons once it reaches a height of 20 to 25mm. During the winter, cut back your mow-sessions to once a month when the blades reach a height of 24 to 30mm.
- The dense lateral growth inhibits the growth of weeds. Additionally, it tolerates herbicides quite well, but it’s best to consult your local garden centre about the suitable product for this grass type before you use any chemicals.
There are plenty of grass types out there – Tall fescue, Zoysia, Buffalo, Carpet grass, etc. However, if you’re on the hunt for a low-maintenance turf that’s easy to maintain and doesn’t get thirsty too often – then couch grass is likely perfect for you. Plus, now that you have our guide to walk you through how to care for yours – nothing should stop you from making your lawn the envy of your neighbourhood.