Establishment and management of salt-tolerant amenity grasses to reduce urban salinity effect (TU06006)
This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.
What was it all about?
Salinity had been recognised nationally as a major problem with the main focus on the spread of dryland salinity in agricultural areas. However, salinity had also been recognised as a serious problem in urban areas, affecting both inland towns and coastal areas. Coastal parklands faced a high level of use from recreational activities, but their locations presented them with a unique set of challenges. Salt spray or tidal inundation could result in areas of unthrifty grass or bare ground.
Maintaining a healthy environment had become a challenging issue in salt-affected urban locations, particularly where tourist-based activities and lifestyle issues were involved.
Salt-tolerant grasses could play a number of positive roles in helping to meet these challenges. While salt tolerant grasses were not a silver bullet for salinity problems, they did buy time for park managers to provide a healthy grass cover in salt affected areas, or areas that were irrigated with water containing appreciable levels of salt. This was especially significant if alternate sources of water were to be used for irrigation. Drought-affected groundwater sources likely had relatively high concentrations of salts, as could recycled water, which was in greater use than ever before.
This project looked at finding suitable hard-wearing varieties of turfgrasses for parks and determining the best ways to establish and manage these turfgrasses to ensure locals and visitors could enjoy them.
The project approached the overall problem of poor quality coastal parkland through a step by step process, with detailed investigation into individual issues. These individual issues were integrated on a larger scale in salt-affected parks as the final stage of proving the technology developed through this and the previous project. A key finding had been that each of the salt tolerant turfgrasses had the potential to establish and maintain good ground coverage if they were well maintained and provided with the necessities of life, food, air and water. Like all plants, they did require these inputs, albeit minimally. Failure to provide any one of these had the potential to result in less than satisfactory turfgrass quality.
A key outcome of the project was the development of establishment and management guidelines providing various options from the construction and establishment of new grounds through to remediation of existing parklands. These guidelines, or best management practices, became readily available to councils.
The research and subsequent guidelines emphasised the importance of viewing the entire system holistically and managing the turfgrass carefully through all aspects of planning, establishment and maintenance.
Through adoption of best management practices identified in this project, councils could be confident in the establishment and management of salt tolerant turfgrasses in amenity areas. The wider advantage was that there would be a flow through effect enhancing consumer confidence in the purchase of premium turfgrass cultivars for specific need situations. These may have been home gardens, urban open spaces, sports fields, golf courses, or rehabilitation sites.
The economic benefits to council would be realised through judicious use of funds in planning, establishing and managing such sites. Similarly, the turf production industry benefited through improved consumer confidence. Ultimately the community received immeasurable benefits through the many health and environmental advantages afforded by healthy parks and gardens.
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This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the financial support of Gold Coast City Council and Redland Shire Council.
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