Why We Love Sir Walter

by Er.We

Why We Love Sir Walter

Sir Walter turf has only been around since the mid-90s, but it’s already established itself as a firm favourite in Australian back yards.

If you remember the years before Sir Walter (SW), you might remember that Australian Dads liked buffalo grass, because it meant good heat tolerance and low water consumption. However, you might also remember that its slow growth it meant a long wait before playing on a new lawn (is there anything more frustrating for a kid?!) and its sharp blades meant scratches and an itchy rash when you finally got to go out there. As for Dad, buffalo’s habit of growing a thick thatch eventually meant that his lawn became sadly discoloured as the thatch prevented water getting to the roots of the new grass, or the thatch developed fungal disease.

In 1960s Australia, Kikuyu became popular, but although it was cheap, hardy and fast-growing, its rapid growth and habit of invading garden beds and even neighbouring gardens with far-reaching runners, quickly turned it into a problem for most domestic gardeners. In fact, Kikuyu’s spreading habit means that although it’s still often used on large-scale projects such as sporting ovals, some states now consider it to be a noxious weed and most home gardeners tend to avoid it.

Australians looked overseas for other, more suitable turfs, but with little success. Most varieties imported from overseas simply shrivelled up and died when confronted with the harsh Australian environment.

It wasn’t until the late 1990s and the introduction of SW turf, an Australian-bred soft-leaf buffalo, that Australian homes finally got the turf their kids had been crying out for. SW was soft to play on, but resistant to wear. It was the ideal backyard play surface for kids to run around on, play ball, bounce off and generally have a good time on – with no itch!

Dad was happy too – SW was an attractive dark green and didn’t need much watering or spraying. SW could cope with sun, shade, water restrictions, insects, weeds – in fact, pretty much everything the Australian climate could throw at it. It thrived in summer, even in drought conditions, and through winter it kept its colour longer than other buffalo turfs. Best of all for Dad, SW needed less mowing than Kikuyu – in fact, Dad could spend 50% more of his time relaxing in front of the sport than he could when he had a Kikuyu lawn. SW was also less invasive, which meant less work in his garden beds.

With all this going for it, it’s hardly a surprise that only 15 years later, SW is one of the most popular turfs in Australian gardens today. Word of mouth and the neighbour looking jealously over the back fence were, and still are, its most powerful promoters.

The turf market is fiercely competitive and there are plenty of alternatives out there, but when it comes to the Australian back yard, it seems nobody has yet come up with anything with a greater appeal than our own native-bred Sir Walter Turf.

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