If you’re a couch lover looking for a new lawn, you might find yourself comparing some of the many new and old varieties on the market. One battle we often get asked about is Santa Ana Vs TifTuf Bermuda. Even though they’re both couch grasses there is some big differences to take into consideration and we think you might be surprised just how different they really are!
Firstly, lets give you some background on each variety:
Santa Ana is a fine leaf couch lawn great for high wear, full sun areas such as parks, schools and golf courses. It has been around for a very long time and has been a popular choice for fine leaf lawn lovers around South Australia.
TifTuf Bermuda is a new couch variety developed by one of the world’s leading turf grass breeders, the University of Georgia. The product of almost 25 years of research and development and selected from over 30,000 cultivars, it has brought exceptional new qualities to the turf market such as drought tolerance, shade tolerance and turf quality.
Round 1: Aesthetics
The average person wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between TifTuf and Santa Ana when placed side by side, in fact, even we might struggle to be 100% sure. They both have a lovely soft fine leaf that can be mown as low as 5-25mm and ‘manicured’ with a cylinder mower. They both have a luscious deep green colour which makes them a popular choice for a number of applications.
The Winner of round 1: It’s a DRAW! Both lawns have a lush, green and fine leaf appearance suitable for any lawn lover.
Round 2: Winter Colour
We all know our South Australian winters can be harsh and nothing suffers more through this time than your lovely green lawn. Couch is a warm-season grass variety, meaning it thrives through the warmer months and will retreat into some level of dormancy through winter. The dormancy means your lawn will slow down in growth and often lose a bit of colour as it retains its energy to survive the season. Unfortunately, Santa Ana is known to take this dormancy seriously and can often be seen yellowing off and even browning through the cooler weather. TifTuf Bermuda however has an excellent colour retention even through the frosty months. As they are both fast growing varieties, they have excellent spring green up.
This picture here is of Santa Ana couch laid right next to TifTuf Bermuda in Pinnaroo, South Australia. Taken in winter after a handful of frosts, you can see just how different their winter colour retention is.
The Winner of round 2: TifTuf Bermuda! There’s no doubt that if you have a couch lawn through cold winters and frosts, TifTuf is the one you want.
Round 3: Shade Tolerance
In our built up cities and towns, it’s unusual to find a backyard that isn’t affected by some shade. Whether it’s a large gum tree, the neighbours fence or a two-storey house, full sun areas are hard to come by. So, if your area isn’t getting 6-7 hours of direct sunlight a day, Santa Ana isn’t going to perform its best. It is better suited to full sun areas, that will receive the majority of the day in direct sunlight. TifTuf Bermuda however has up to 50% shade tolerance. It can handle areas with just 5 hours of sunlight a day, making it a more versatile variety for modern day homes.
The Winner of round 3: TifTuf Bermuda! Most homes have some sort of shade and TifTuf Bermuda can perform even when chopping down that gum tree or your neighbour’s fence isn’t an option.
Round 4: Drought Tolerance
Here, there is no competition. TifTuf Bermuda is the only turf grass in the world to be awarded the Smart Approved WaterMark for its water-saving and drought tolerance. TifTuf has a rapidly establishing root system and uses on average 38% less water. In the right season it can establish within 7 days, up to 75% quicker than other varieties, meaning it requires a fraction of the water to become an established lawn. It will save you water, money and time!
And you don’t have to take our word for it. TifTuf Bermuda has been in extensive trials by STRI, Melbourne Polytechnic and others. It has been compared directly to other couch varieties such as Santa Ana on their ability to withstand prolonged drought and comes up on top nearly every time.
Round 5: Wear Tolerance
Couch grasses are fast growing and self-repairing varieties by nature and therefore have been used time and time again in high wear areas like footie ovals and cricket pitches. Santa Ana has been a staple in this industry for many years due to its hardiness and rapid repair. TifTuf Bermuda has entered this market easily as it is also an incredibly hardy variety with thick, dense growth that can handle a high amount of wear. It’s rapid growth sees it repair quickly and all the additional benefits of drought tolerance and winter colour make it an attractive alternative.
The Winner of round 5: It’s a DRAW! Both Santa Ana and TifTuf Bermuda are suitable for high wear areas where fast growth and recovery is required. Just remember though, fast recovery means more mowing!
The overall winner is....
The choice between Santa Ana and TifTuf Bermuda is an easy one. TifTuf Bermuda outperforms Santa Ana in winter colour, drought tolerance and shade tolerance while still being a lovely fine leaf, hard-wearing lawn. You’ll save time and money with its reduced water and fertiliser consumption and have a lawn that looks good year-round.