Members of our nursery team recently represented Natural Area at a native grass establishment field day held at the Shenton Park Field Station. The field day was hosted by Kings Park and Botanic Garden and Native Seeds Pty Ltd where the uses of native grasses, advantages and limitations where presented and discussed by Dr. Jason Stevens and Dr. Ian Chivers. Advances from 7 years of research on germination and establishment in four key native grass species were described and discussed, including the latest techniques for enhanced germination of native grasses.
Australian native grasses are defined as the grasses present at the time of European colonisation. Australia is mostly grassland (comprising of open woodlands and pure grasslands) and although Australia only equates to 5% of the world’s landmass, 20% of all grasses are native to it. There are more than 1,200 native grass species in Australia and many still unknown.
Why use native grasses?
- Because of low and irregular rainfall, using native grasses is a big advantage. Native grasses need little water, less fertiliser, no lime and are very affordable.
- Grasses are drought and heat tolerant.
- Once native grasses are established, they do not need extensive maintenance.
- Climate-adapted native grasses of all growth habits exist.
Australian grasses are widespread, hardy, valuable and attractive. Native grasses are adapted to Australia’s harsh environment with low rainfall and poor fertility and can be found in many different ecosystems. Of the 14 ecosystems defined worldwide, the continent of Australia is home to 8, resulting in native grasses of many different growth habits as well as requirements. Surprising to me, several species were shown to form great residential lawns and parkland turfs and with approx. 120 ha of parklands in Perth, it is a wonder to me that native grasses are still largely unknown; especially when considering how much water, fertiliser and maintenance could be saved by switching from exotic grass species to native ones.
For more information contact our nursery.