Choosing The Right Type Of Grass For Your Garden

Choosing the right type of grass for your garden is quite important in the long term. Although everyone wants to have a beautiful lawn, nobody want the extra work to maintain it. While everyone wants to have a maintenance free garden, you can’t run away from the fact that whatever grass you choose, there is always some maintenance required to make sure your lawn stays nice and green. If this is the first time you have a garden, then this article is just for you.

At the moment, the types of grass that are common for gardens in Malaysia are

  • cow grass
  • pearl grass
  • Philippine carpet grass
  • Japanese carpet grass

Many people choose the type of grass for their garden without taking the following into consideration:-

  • weather in Malaysia
  • amount of weeding
  • sunlight
  • water requirement
  • mowing require
  • fertilizer

Usually after your renovation project, what is upper most on your mind is cost especially if you have under budgeted for your renovation project. Since the garden is usually the last section to be completed, invariably it is the place where many people choose to cut back and try to spend less. If you have a small garden, then the total cost will not be too much. Anything in the region of RM 1,000 or less. If however you have a large garden for example 1,000 sq ft, then the cost can be substantial because just the grass alone can cost around RM 2 per sq ft. That is excluding the necessary ground work, soil or labor.

Lets look at the different types of grass and their characteristic.

Cow Grass

Cow Grass

Cow Grass

This grass is common and grows everywhere. It is hardy, don’t need fertilizer and do not require much water unless the weather is consistently hot and dry over a period of several weeks. Cow grass is cheapest at around RM 0.50 per sq ft. It downside to cow grass is that it is not fine and doesn’t have a carpet look. It also need mowing every few weeks depending on rainfall and how fertile the soil is. The more water and fertile the soil, the faster it grows.

Pearl Grass

Pearl Grass

Pearl Grass

Pearl grass looks like cow grass but they have shorter, rounder and thicker leaves. Instead of the grass blade that stands up, pearl grass grows sideways and lie flat against the ground.  They need more water compared to cow grass to do well and are less hardy. Growth rates are much slower and they grow well with some shade and not under direct sun the whole day. Under direct sun, they require frequent watering otherwise the edges of the grass blade starts to turn brown. Pearl grass do well in sandy and well drained soil. If your garden is water logged after heavy rain, they tend to get infected with fungus and dies off. The advantage of pearl grass is also its main disadvantage. They grow slowly so mowing is almost never required. However because they grow so slowly, other seeds blown into your garden can take root easily. While you won’t need to mow them, you have to weed more often to get of any wild grass that grow in your garden. Wild grass and weeds can easily overtake pearl grass if you don’t weed your garden regularly. Pearl grass cost around RM4 per sq ft.

Philippine Carpet Grass

Phillipine Grass

Philippine Grass

Philippine carpet grass is finer compare to cow grass or pearl grass. They are quite  hardy as well once they take root. If you don’t water them regularly, roots can go deep and over time, you won’t need to water them at all even in hot weather but they will have a lighter green. However, if you water them, they tend to have a darker shade of green which some people prefer. This type of grass likes full sunlight the entire day. Under shade, they tend to grow taller and bushy. The grass is quite aggressive and can compete with other types of grass therefore you only need some weeding. Philippine carpet grass need regular mowing about once every 2 weeks. If you allow too much time between mowing, the grass will become tall and if you cut the grass too short, you will leave brown patches. Once they have grown too tall, the only way to make them short again is trim your lawn over several trimmings. So instead of say once every 2 weeks, you have to trim say once a week and at each trimming, you don’t cut too much. Phillipine carpet grass is quite popular since its price is around RM 1 to 2 per sq ft and requires only regular mowing. They look very nice for your garden too.

Japanese Carpet Grass

This type of grass has finer blades compared to Philippine carpet grass. The grass blade is softer, shorter and compact. They grow rather slowly and need only minimal trimming. The grass requires watering and in dry soil, they tend to die off. Since they grow slowly, they can’t compete with faster growing species and can be outgrown by weeds and wild grass. Japanese carpet grass is the most expensive of the 4 types in the range of RM 10 per sq ft.

In conclusion, whatever type of grass you choose, there will be maintenance required. It is whether you prefer to mow regularly or weed regularly and whether you are eco conscious and prefer grass that don’t need much water to thrive.

I have tried pearl grass with the intention of minimal mowing as well as Phillippine carpet grass that is hardy, don’t need watering but regular mowing, I’d prefer the latter as mowing is much easier than weeding.

Next – Preparing soil for a garden

 

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Comments

Choosing The Right Type Of Grass For Your Garden — 22 Comments

  1. I have Phillippine grass, but there are many weeds or different species grass since I was working oversea. Is there a chemical treatment to kill other type of grass and leave only the Phillippine type ?
    Thank you… james

    • Hi James Liew, thanks for your comment and question. Unfortunately there is no such chemical. You will have to get someone to remove the weeds by hand. If your garden is not too big, it is still do-able. If your garden is big and the weeds have really taken hold, one option is to removed everything and start over.

    • Hi James, there is a herbicide that can eliminate weeds/foreign grasses from Philippines grass lawn and yet will not harm the Philippines grass. It’s called Monument. It is a systemic herbicide and takes 2 weeks to see the results.

        • It’s not available in retail chain though, only can be bought through distributor, and cannot be use on Pearl Grass and Cow Grass, cos it will kill both. This herbicide can be safely use on Bermuda variety Grass and Zoysia variety Grass only.

  2. hi i just moved in to a new place and planted some phill carpet grass…i mixed some baja in the water and watererd the grass…i notice is a bit brown now…after 1 week growing it..is it due to the baja coz my wife told me to mix the baja in the water and just sprinkle a bit ..i wrongly watered it with the baja water…pls advise

    • Hi Van,

      Browning could be due to the hot whether or too much fertilizer. With newly transplanted grass best not to put any fertilizer since the grass need time to adjust to new environment. Also grass actually don’t need too much fertilizer. With the hot weather you need to water the grass twice a day. Also don’t over water each time. Don’t worry, grass is quite hardy.

  3. From above description, I think what I’m planting are Philippine grass. 1 year ago I ask someone to plant the carpet grass, after 3 months I install partial canopy beside the garden, but the grass under the shade seem unhappy, the soil become black and the grass become thin..
    anyone got any solution?

    • Hi Mabel,

      Grass under shaded area becomes thin because not enough sunlight. Do note that these grasses (Phil, Japanese, etc) needs lots of sunlight to grow nice and green. Agree with TheRenovator too, soil becomes black due to fungus. When grass grow in less sunlight and too much water, fungus will form in the soil.

  4. Hi, May i know where i can bought the MONUMENT LIQUID HERBICIDE, and how much should i apply for about 1000sqft gardern?

    Thank you.

  5. Hi and thank you for the great review. I do have a question about the hardiness of the cow and the philippines grass. Which one stands better against dogs poo/pee? Sorry for the gross question, but I do have two dogs and they tend to do their business outside.

    Thanks!

  6. I am looking for grass that can grown under my full grown bamboo..:) I tried cow grass and the Japanese grass but i think they need sunlight.

    • Hi Chong YL, yes grass needs light. Full grown bamboo tends to shed leaves and covers the grass so the grass don’t do well. Maybe create a Japanese style garden with rocks? Anyone else care to chip in?

  7. Hi I am choosing the suitable grass for my garden and in fact I prefer Japanese grass. But I am afraid about drainage as I only put sand underneath the soil. So does Japanese grass required good drainage to drain away rain water?

  8. Hi, I am new to having a garden…I have a few dogs too. Currently there are a lot of weed and other species of undesirable grass growing in my garden. Which type of grass would best suit my garden considering my pets and something which is cost saving in the long run as well as environmentally friendly? Your feedback is much appreciated, thanks.

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