Santa Ana Couch Turf Maintenance and Common Problems

Being a fairly hardy grass, Santa Ana Couch only requires regular lawn maintenance.

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Santa Ana couch, also known as Nullarbor couch, is an American grass that is tough and suitable for Australian conditions.

It retains its bright green colour very well even when weather conditions aren’t perfect.

Santa Ana Couch Pros & Cons

Wondering if this is the right turf for your backyard?

Here’s a rundown of some of the pros and cons of using Santa Ana couch.

Pros

  • Grows in full sun
  • It’s extremely hard-wearing
  • Drought tolerant
  • Frost tolerant
  • Adapts to most soil types
  • Pet resistant
  • Easy to grow
  • Produces thatch readily
  • Has good colour retention

Cons

  • Does not tolerate heavy shade
  • Requires annual aeration or scarifying due to heavy thatch production (best done in late winter)
  • More invasive than some other varieties

Maintenance

Being a fairly hardy grass, Santa Ana Couch only requires regular lawn maintenance.

It’s quite drought-tolerant once fully established.

However, during periods of dry conditions, the following watering schedule is recommended:

  • In summer with consistent temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius, water three times a week for around 20 minutes.
  • In spring and autumn, water twice a week for around 15 minutes.
  • In winter when there has been no rainfall, water once a week for 15 minutes.

Mowing height

This turf responds and looks its best when it’s kept fairly short.

The recommended mowing height is 8 to 15 mm all year round. This will require weekly mowing in summer.

However in winter, when the grass is dormant in southern parts of the country, mowing frequency can be reduced to once every 2 to 5 weeks.

Fertiliser

You should fertilise your Santa Ana couch four times a year. Once in early spring, twice over summer, and once in autumn.

Use a special lawn fertiliser that is high in nitrogen to help maintain strong growth and good colour.

Weed killer

To get the best results from any weed killer that you use, your lawn (and the weeds) should be in active growth.

Therefore, you need to plan ahead for when you want to treat your lawn for weeds. 

Here’s what to do:

  • Apply a nitrogen-rich fertiliser two weeks before you intend to spray.
  • Avoid mowing your lawn for 2 days before you intend to spray.
  • Use a quality broadleaf weed killer to control weeds such as bindii, clover, and Paterson’s curse.
  • Spray your lawn again at the end of July as a preventative.

Problems and Fixes

Santa Ana couch is fairly hardy and shouldn’t experience too many problems.

However, here are a few that you might come across and what to do about them.

ProblemHow to Fix
Insect pests such as black beetles, mole crickets, and caterpillars.Spray your lawn with a lawn grub killer in spring. This should act as a preventative.
A proliferation of seeds.This can happen when your lawn is under stress or you’ve let it grow too high. To fix this, mow more frequently and make sure your lawn is getting enough water and fertiliser.

Santa Ana Couch vs Sir Walter Buffalo

Couch and Buffalo are two entirely different types of grasses.

While Couch has fine grass blades, Buffalo grass has much wider grass blades.

Here’s a comparison chart that lists the differences:

Santa Ana CouchSir Walter Buffalo
– A hard-wearing fine leafed grass
– Can be invasive with underground runners
– Not shade tolerant (needs 5 to 6 hours of daily sun)
– Mowing height should be around 8 to 15 mm
– An equally hard-wearing broad leaf grass
– Only produces above ground runners that are not invasive
– Shade tolerant (only needs 3 to 4 hours of daily sun)
– Mowing height can be between 30 to 60 mm

Santa Ana Couch vs Kikuyu

There’s not a great deal of difference between Santa Ana couch and Kikuyu.

Both are tough-wearing grasses that like the same amount of sunlight on a daily basis.

Both varieties can also be quite invasive if left to grow uncontrolled into adjoining garden beds.

If anything, Kikuyu is slightly more heat-tolerant and is very popular in South Australia.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture. She has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She also had the responsibility of a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.