Grasses for Home Lawns

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1. What is meant by the terms warm-climate and cool-climate grasses?

The United States can be roughly divided into five separate regions, according to the different climatic conditions. (See map) The Northern regions (1, 2, and 3) are most suitable for cool-climate grasses, and the Southern regions (4 and 5) more desirable for warm-climate grasses.

2. What are some of the warm-climate and cool-climate grasses?

Warm Climate

  • Bermuda grass
  • Carpet grass
  • Centipede grass
  • St. Augustine grass
  • Zoysia

Cool Climate

  • Bent grass
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Tall Fescue
  • Red Fescue
  • Poa trivia us (rough bluegrass)

3. There are so many different kinds of grasses to choose from. Which is the best to buy?

The homeowner is usually restricted to what is available at the lawn and garden centers. Read the seed labels carefully to find out what is in the bag or box and compare the grass varieties with what you have learned in this book, especially the information in this chapter.

4. Which Kentucky Bluegrass Fits Your Needs?

There are more than 20 species of Kentucky bluegrass from which you can choose. Many of the newer varieties are low-growing (dwarf) grasses that can be mowed for a neater, more uniform- looking lawn. They have excellent disease-resistance, but they require more care and cost considerably more than the older varieties. If you are putting in a new lawn or renovating an old one, consider the newer varieties.


Regions where turf grasses are best suited for home-lawn use.

Region 1&3 Kentucky bluegrasses,

Region 2 Non-irrigated areas; Buffalo grass Grama grasses, Crested wheat grass. Irrigated areas; Kentucky bluegrasses, Bent grasses. Limited areas; Bermuda grasses

Region 4 Bermuda grasses, Zoysiogra Limited areas; Kentucky blue- grasses, St. Augustine grass.

Region 5 Bermuda grasses, Zoysiagrasses. Limited areas; Carpet grass, Bahia - gross, Centipede grass, St. Augustine grass.

Looking over the following list will allow you to quickly pick out the bluegrasses that fit your needs.

Ordinary Kentucky Blue grasses Any variety of bluegrass that has similar characteristics to, or has been only slightly improved from, those of common Kentucky bluegrass. They were developed primarily for home-lawn use and, because of their upright growth and disease susceptibility, they are not among the better varieties to use in a well-groomed lawn.

EXAMPLES: Arboretum, Campus, Deift, Kenblue, Newport, Nu Dwarf, Park, and Troy.

Improved Kentucky Bluegrasses Many of the bluegrasses in this category are excellent for home-lawn use but are still not the top of the line in bluegrass varieties. They have good disease-resistance and produce seed easily. This helps to hold down the price of seed, so many homeowners readily use them.

EXAMPLES: Arista, Baron, Cougar, Prato, Sydsport, Vista, and Windsor.

Elite Kentucky Bluegrasses These bluegrasses are for the home owners who want a first-class lawn. The grasses in this group respond exceptionally well to good management and can be mowed at three fourths of an inch to give you a professional-looking lawn. The elite bluegrasses are for the enthusiastic owners who want a grass that will respond to their tender loving care. Even with a minimum of care these grasses will give you as good a lawn as the ordinary and improved varieties.

EXAMPLES: Adeiphi, Bonnieblue, Fylking (0217), Merion, Nugget, Pennstar, Sodco, Warren’s A-2o, Warren’s A- Glade, and Galaxy.

Bermuda grass Varieties, (not for Northern states)

FLORATURF Excellent for home lawns, has some shade tolerance; disease and insect problems can occur. (Released by Florida AES*.)

MIDWAY Produces a medium-textured lawn, good cold tolerance, probably does best in the northern parts of the Southern grass region. (Released by Kansas AES.)

ORMOND Vigorous grower, poor cold tolerance, therefore restricted to southern portions of the Southern grass region. (Developed by Florida AES.)

ROYAL CAPE Extreme heat and salt tolerance, good desert-area grass. (Developed in California.)

SANTA ANA Withstands heavy wear, good for play areas, poor cold tolerance, exhibits tolerance to smoke and automobile fumes. (Released by California AES.)

SUNTURF Good color and spreads rapidly. (Developed by several different state colleges.)

TIFDWARF A dwarf variety that tolerates very close mowing (three sixteenths of an inch), most commonly used for golf greens. (Released from Tifton, Georgia.)

TIFFINE Good disease tolerance, medium-textured leaves, excel lent for a well-manicured lawn. (Released from Tifton, Georgia.)

TIFGREEN Good disease tolerance, nice green color when fertilized, one of the best varieties for home lawns if well cared for. (Released from Tifton, Georgia.)

TIFLAWN A rugged, wear-resistant variety that gets by on small amounts of fertilizer, shows good resistance to disease and frost, spreads quickly to form a uniform turf. (Released from Tifton, Georgia.)

TIFWAY Another good home-lawn variety, excellent disease resistance and good color for a lawn grass. (Released from Tifton, Georgia.)

U- Some tolerance to cool weather, is adapted to most of the Southern grass regions. (Developed by USGA* Green Section.)

4. At what temperatures do the grasses grow best?

Northern grass varieties do best in mild temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees. When the temperature is higher than 80 degrees, the grass uses up its food supply too rapidly and then goes dormant; that is, it stops growing and turns brown. Growth resumes when temperatures cool down, provided adequate moisture is available.

The Southern grasses grow best whenever the temperatures are above 70 to 75 degrees. Whenever the temperature drops below o degrees, many of the Southern grasses will start to turn brown and go into dormancy until the next warm spell. (See fig. 2-1.)


Figure 2-1. Seasonal growing habits of two turf grasses.

5. What exactly is the difference between an annual and a perennial grass?

An annual grass, such as some varieties of ryegrass, completes its entire life cycle in a one-year period. This means it develops from seed early in the year and then produces seed at the end of the growing season before it dies.

A perennial grass is one that survives season after season, producing seed every year. These grasses are the preferred ones for home lawns. Bluegrass, Bermuda grass, and zoysia are examples of perennial grasses.

6. What is the difference between a rhizome and a stolon?

A rhizome is an underground stem that grows out from the grass plant and sends up new plants. A stolon grows above the ground along the surface, and new plants develop from it. (See fig. 2-2.)


Figure 2-2. Offshoots of parent plant grow from either the rhizome or the stolon.

7. What is meant by the term tillering?

Tillers are new plants that develop from the base of the parent plant and help to make a lawn thicker and more uniform. Almost every grass will produce tillers, whether they are the bunch or the spreading variety.

8. Why doesn’t grass stop growing when it is cut off as does a limb or twig on a tree?

Without getting too technical, it’s a matter of where the new growth is produced in the plants. Trees, shrubs, and evergreens have terminal buds (points where new growth is initiated) that are located at the tips of the limbs and twigs. When these buds are removed by pruning, growth is stopped because of the removal of that part of the plant that produces the new growth each year.

In grass, the growing points are located at the base (crown) of the plant, and new growth is produced low to the ground. So, when you Cut the grass, you are removing the older portion of the leaves and making room for the younger leaves to push up. Setting a mower too low results in scalping the lawn and removing the growing points of the grass, thus killing it.

9. I have often heard that a healthy lawn is really important be cause of the way it helps to improve the condition of the soil. Just what does the grass plant do to improve the soil?

Grasses have a fibrous root system that spreads throughout the soil in search of water and nutrients. A healthy lawn will produce 50 pounds of roots per 1,000 square feet each year. Almost half of these roots die and are replaced by new ones each year. The old roots decompose and help the soil to become granular and well aerated. When the roots decompose, they leave in the soil millions of minute channels that increase the air pockets in the ground. The old roots also serve as a source of food for microorganisms responsible for the release of some nutrients in the soil.

10. I just bought a home that is two years old, and the lawn is terrible. How can I tell what kind of grasses were planted by the contractor who built the house?

It is difficult for a homeowner to identify lawn grasses without the proper charts. For accurate identification have your county extension agent help you, but you can make this quick test first and perhaps identify the grasses yourself. Check to see if the grass tends to grow in clumps and has wide shiny leaves, and check if the leaf tips are jagged and frayed after each mowing. If the grass fits all these characteristics, then it is probably ryegrass the con tractor used to get a quick green lawn after finishing the house.

11. What do you think of putting a small golf green in my back lawn?

I think it is an excellent idea if you are an avid golfer with a big back lawn and like to spend your spare time in the evenings and on weekends working outdoors. This is especially true if you use bent grass or Bermuda grass for the green. Both of these grasses require a very high degree of maintenance when mowed short enough for a putting green. You also need a special reel mower for the cutting of a green to get a good, true putting surface.

If you live in the Northern part of the United States, then I have a suggestion that is somewhat of a compromise. Some of the new bluegrass varieties can be mowed at three quarters of an inch if they have adequate moisture and fertilizer, and if they are on a soil with good drainage. By using a bluegrass for your green, you can use the same chemicals (fertilizers, weed killers, insecticides) on all your lawn, thus reducing the large supply of different chemicals needed to maintain two kinds of grass. A small, hand-pushed reel mower, which can be set to cut at three quarters of an inch, will work very well for this type of green. For putting, a bluegrass green will not serve as well as a good bent grass or Bermuda grass green, but it should give you a good enough putting surface for your needs.

12. I just moved to a new state and need to do some work on the front lawn around our new home. Should I use the same grass seed as I did at my old home?

Maybe. The answer depends on the differences in climate. For example, if you lived in Indianapolis, Indiana, and moved two hundred miles south to Louisville, Kentucky, then the bluegrass that gave you a beautiful lawn in Indianapolis would have a difficult time surviving in the hot, humid weather in the South. One of the best ways to find out what kind of grass to grow is to drive around your neighborhood until you find the nicest lawn. Then stop and find Out what kind of grass it is and how the owner makes it look so nice. This will give you some idea of what to look for when you go to the local garden center to buy seed.

13. 1 just planted a black walnut tree in my back lawn. I’ve been told that when the tree reaches maturity other shrubs and plants will not grow near it. Is this true?

Certain plants can be killed if their roots come in contact with those of the walnut tree. Death is caused by a chemical released from the roots of the walnut tree. Fortunately this chemical has no ill effects on grass plants and therefore is not a problem. In fact, it stimulates the growth of the grass plant. But the heavy shade, after the tree matures, can cause the grass to become weakened and susceptible to disease.

14. Does it matter what kind of grass I plant in my lawn?

This depends on what you want, a cow pasture or a luxurious lawn. If you select the wrong grass, the best possible care will still produce a poor lawn. An example of this would be trying to grow a sun-loving grass in heavy shade. The type of grass selected will determine how nice a lawn you will have.

15. When selecting a grass variety for a lawn, what facts about the grass must I take into consideration?

First, you must consider the suitability or adaptability of the grass for the kinds of weather in your area. You need to under stand the characteristics of the grass so you’ll know how it will react under the various conditions to which it will be subjected. You also need to know what type of management it will require once it is established around your home. Selection of the proper grass is basic to having a luxurious lawn of which you can be proud. See Table 2-1 for the basic characteristics of different turf-grasses.

16. What types of grasses will do best in the shade?

Certain types of grasses are more adaptable to shady conditions than others. Red fescue, chewing fescue, Poa trivialis, and St. Augustine grass are four of the more shade-tolerant grasses available. The shade tolerance of most turf grasses is enhanced the further south they are grown. And the bluegrass variety Glade appears to do well in shade.

17. How can 1 tell if I should plant ground cover instead of trying to grow grass in my yard?

Ground cover should be used any time heavy shade prevents growth of grass, or when extreme heat makes it impossible for grass to do well, or if banks are too steep to mow, or when you want a Contrast in the appearance of your lawn areas.

18. In my lawn are some small patches of grass that have been identified as annual bluegrass, but they don’t seem to die each year. If it is an annual, why does it live longer than one year?

Annual bluegrass is considered to be an annual grass but under certain climatic conditions it will survive for more than one year. It is also a prolific seed producer and can easily reseed itself, giving the appearance of being a perennial plant, when in truth it is just developing new plants each year from seeds of the dead plants.

19. Is annual bluegrass a weed or a lawn grass?

In most instances I would consider it a weed rather than a desirable lawn grass. You will find it listed on grass-seed labels as a noxious weed, one you should avoid getting started in your lawn. Its presence usually indicates a lack of good lawn care. This grass is used to over-seed into dormant grasses in the Southern regions of the United States, mostly on golf greens. The hot, humid weather in the summer causes it to die and the other grasses to take over.

20. Should clover be seeded along with grass seed in a new lawn?

This depends on the individual and whether there is a preference for clover in a lawn. In the past, clover was used as a way of increasing the nitrogen content of the soil, but it is seldom used in good mixtures today. The staining properties (to children’s clothing especially) of the clover plant, along with the undesirable white blossoms, are two reasons why it is usually excluded from lawn-seed mixtures.

21. I have seen two or three differently named rye grasses used in seed packages. Which rye grass is best for use on a home lawn?

You must first decide how long you want the ryegrass in your lawn. If you are using it for a quick green-up while the other lawn grasses get established, then be sure to use the annual (Italian) ryegrass. Read the label carefully to be sure no perennial ryegrass seed is in the bag. If the term domestic ryegrass is present, then you are getting a mixture of annual and perennial ryegrass. If you want the ryegrass to be present in your lawn, then select a perennial variety.

Today there are several improved varieties that have a finer leaf blade than do the older common varieties. These new varieties make an excellent addition to the available turf grasses and merit consideration for use in your lawn. Manhattan, Norlea, Pelo, NK-200, and Pennfine are a few of the new, improved rye-grass varieties now available, with Manhattan and Pennfine being the best for home-lawn use.

22. I see advertisements about the “miracle grass” zoysia. Is it as good as the advertisements claim it to be?

Zoysia is a good lawn grass if properly managed and grown in the right climate. I do think it has been oversold to the home owner as the cure-all for lawn problems. Before putting zoysia into a lawn, you had better have a good understanding of its growth habits and maintenance requirements.

23. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of having a zoysia lawn?

The ability of zoysia to withstand close mowing and heavy wear, its low nitrogen requirements its resistance to various diseases and to insect problems are some advantages to a zoysia lawn.

The two real disadvantages are its inability to do well in shady areas and the fact that it becomes dormant (turns brown) in the fall in the Northern part of the United States and remains so until late spring. Many people spray their lawns with green dye during this dormant period.

24. How long will it take for my zoysia plugs to fill in and form a thick lawn?

If you use 2-inch to 3 plugs and put them in on 12-inch centers throughout your lawn, then I would estimate 2—3 years before your lawn will be totally zoysia. By adding fertilizer during the first two years, you might be able to shorten this time. Control ling weeds while the zoysia is filling in can present a problem. Don’t let weeds compete with the zoysia, or you’ll be waiting more than 2 - 3 years for your zoysia to form a thick, resilient turf.

25. Will zoysia crowd out other grasses?

Yes. It will predominate and will spread until dense shade or a mechanical barrier stops it.

26. My neighbor planted zoysla, but 1 don’t want it spreading into my lawn. What can 1 do to stop it?

Unless there is a driveway, walk, wall, or some other type of physical barrier between your lawns, the zoysia will eventually spread into your lawn. A metal barrier pushed into the soil will stop zoysia if you don’t push the metal all the way into the ground. If you do, the stolons will grow over the top of the barrier and into your lawn. I do not know of any chemicals that will selectively kill zoysia and not harm any of the other grass in your lawn.

27. Is dichondra a grass?

Dichondra is not a grass but a ground cover. It is a close relative to morning-glory and is most commonly used in the southern portions of California. It makes a nice, attractive lawn if fertilized, mowed, and irrigated like a regular grass lawn.

But a word of warning. If you have dichondra for your lawn, remember it is a broadleaf plant and therefore any chemicals, especially 2, dicamba (Banvel D), and 2,4, that kill broad. leaf weeds will also kill dichondra.

28. What is buffalo grass?

This is a highly drought-resistant grass used in the hotter, arid areas of the United States where there is very little rainfall, and where irrigation is limited or not available. It thrives under close mowing and drought conditions. Too much watering, fertilization, or too high a mowing encourages weeds and other grasses to become established and cause shade problems. Buffalo grass is not tolerant of shade and will quickly be crowded out by other vegetation if shady conditions persist.

29. How can I establish buffalo grass in my new lawn?

Seeding or plugging can be used, depending on your own personal needs. Because of the difficulty of getting good seed, plugging or sodding would probably be the best method to use. Spot sodding (plugging) should be done in the spring, using 3.inch to 4- inch sod cubes cut thick and placed at 12-inch to m8-inch centers on a firm, level soil-bed. It takes 25 to 50 square feet of sod, cut into cubes, to cover 1000 square feet. Water should be added only in small amounts to reduce weed competition.

30. Why is redtop no longer included in grass-seed mixtures?

This grass is a poor relative to bent grass and is now considered to be an undesirable lawn grass. It tends to grow in clumps, and its coarse leaves do not blend well with other grasses. It is some times included with other seed because of its ability to germinate quickly and give a new lawn the appearance of having some grass present. It usually will be crowded out by the other grasses in a year or two.

31. Bent grass makes such a nice putting green that I wonder how would it do for a regular lawn?

If you want to spend as much time and money on your lawn as a professional turf manager spends maintaining a green, bent grass will make an excellent lawn. But remember it requires special care to keep it healthy and looking nice. Frequent mowing with a reel mower, extra fertilizer, disease and insect control, and thatch removal are just a few of the things that will keep you busy.

32. Which of the newer blue grasses have the best chance of surviving in the shady areas on my lawn?

The three varieties that seem to offer the best shade tolerance are Warren’s A-Glade, and Sodco. In tests, all have done exceptionally well when the height of cut has been one and a half to two inches and ample fertilizer has been applied. Remember, no grass can survive in shade without your help. Proper fertilization, good watering practices, and mowing at the correct height are all important in maintaining grass in shady areas.

33. I’ve heard so much about Merion Bluegrass over the years. is it still one of the best blue grasses to buy?

Merion is the most famous relative in the bluegrass family. It was the first truly improved bluegrass to be presented for the homeowner’s use back in the late forties and early fifties. Today it still ranks as one of the elite bluegrasses for home lawns, as well as on golf courses. When using any bluegrass, it is wise to seed two or more varieties, as a blend, for added insurance against disease and insect problems.

34. What is a blend of blue grasses?

This refers to the mixing together of seed from two or more different varieties of bluegrasses. An example would be a blend containing 50 percent Merion and 50 percent Fylking.

35. How well will Kentucky bluegrass and red fescue do when seeded together?

These two grasses are quite compatible and do well together in lawns, especially in light-to-moderate shaded areas. The blue- grasses will eventually crowd out the red fescue in the open areas that receive full sunshine most of the day. But in heavy-shaded areas, the red fescue will predominate.

36. What is the advantage of using a blend when seeding my lawn? A blend offers a homeowner some insurance against disease problems. Since each variety of grass has a different susceptibility to diseases, chances are good that any one disease will not affect all of the grass varieties in your lawn. This allows disease-resistant plants to continue normal growth and will help you maintain a more attractive lawn.

37. What is a dwarf bluegrass?

Dwarf bluegrasses are often called low growers because the grass

blades tend to grow close to the surface rather than growing straight up as do the older varieties of bluegrasses. Some of the low- growing varieties available are Pennstar, Fylking, and Sodco.

38. Why would a dwarf bluegrass be used for a home lawn?

The advantages of these grasses is their ability to withstand short-mowing heights. This means a homeowner can have a manicured lawn with a short cut without retarding the growth of the grass.

39. is there a difference between tall fescue and red fescue?

Yes, there is a remarkable difference. Tall fescue has coarse, wide leaves that are not too attractive for home lawns. If you have an area away from your house that gets a lot of play, or if you live in a region where droughty conditions are a problem, you may want to consider growing tall fescue. Red fescue has a narrow, fine

leaf and is often seeded alone or in seed mixtures where shade is a problem.

40. How do Bermuda grass and bluegrass growth requirements differ?

They are as dissimilar as night and day in their requirements for developing a thick, healthy lawn. The growing seasons for Bermuda grass and bluegrass are opposites.

Bermuda grass grows best in hot, summer weather, where, if adequate moisture and ample fertilizer have been applied, the lawn will have to be mowed twice a week. Mowing height for Bermuda grass is 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch.

Bluegrasses will hardly need mowing during hot weather unless watered regularly to prevent them from becoming dormant. Blue grass grows best in the cool spring and fall, and should be mowed regularly at 1 1/2 to 2 inches.

41. Why is it we are able to grow bluegrass in our lawns when we live in the Southern grass region around Atlanta?

Local climatic conditions will influence the choice of grass you use in your lawn. In your case, the higher elevation and cooler summer temperatures around Atlanta allow the bluegrasses to survive.

42. Is it possible to use blends of Southern grasses in my yard?

The practice of using blends works well for bluegrasses in the Northern regions of the United States, but in the South a pure stand of one kind of grass is usually grown. The reason for this is that most of the Southern grasses are creeping varieties forming a dense, thick mat, crowding out the weakest grass in the mixture. The wide ranges in maintenance requirements of the different grasses would make it difficult for the homeowner to set up a maintenance schedule that did not favor one grass over another in a mixture.

43. Why is Bermuda grass called a creeping grass?

Creeping is a term used by many people in discussing how grasses spread into bare areas and flowerbeds by underground stems (rhizomes) or aboveground stolons. These two plant parts are capable of growing great distances away from the parent plant and sending up new grass plants all along their surface. This characteristic is a great advantage because it does give the grass the ability to spread into bare or damaged areas and thus keep the lawn looking nice. Bermuda grass, bluegrass, zoysia, bent grass, centipede grass, St. Augustine grass, Bahia grass, and a few other grasses should all be classified as “creepers.”

44. Why do some of the homeowners in the South avoid having a Bermuda grass lawn?

The main drawback in using Bermuda grass for your lawn is the tremendous amount of work and money required to have it nice- looking. Most homeowners trying to grow it never realize how much care and management are really involved. Bermuda grass requires more than the usual amount of fertilizer, will not tolerate heavy shade, and needs warm weather and frequent close mowing to look its best.

45. Will Bermuda grass grow in the heavy shade under the trees on my lawn?

It will grow in the shade but will not form a dense, healthy lawn under these conditions. You would be better off to plant St. Augustine grass in the shade rather than Berrnudagrass. Another problem with trying to grow Bermuda grass under these conditions is the soil wetness usually associated with a shaded area. A well- drained soil is a must in order to have a Bermuda grass lawn.

46. I’m getting ready to put in a new Bermuda grass lawn. Should I use common Bermuda or one of the newer varieties being ad vertised?

If you are going to spend very little time or money on your lawn after the grass has become established, you should use the common Bermuda variety. It requires little maintenance and will form a shaggy, but acceptable lawn.

On the other hand, if you want a lawn that reflects your pride in your home, then use one of the newer varieties available. They require much more work on your part, but the end results are well worth it. These grasses require frequent, close mowing, with ample amounts of nitrogen being needed throughout the growing season. Thatch removal should also be an important part of your annual maintenance program. Some examples of the newer, improved varieties of Bermuda grass are Tifgreen, Tifway, Tifdwarf, and Sun turf.

47. What is the best way to establish Bermuda grass in my lawn?

Too much variation occurs when seed is used to Start a Bermuda grass lawn. The newer varieties on the market today have to be established from plugs or sprigs for a uniform-looking lawn.

TABLE 2-2: Vegetative Planting of Grasses

Grass

Bermuda grass

Buffalo grass

Carpet grass

Centipede grass

Zoysia

Method

sprigs

plugs

plugs

plugs

plugs

Amount/1,000 Sq. Ft.

1 bushel

25 to 50 sq. ft. of sod

20 to 40 sq. ft. of sod

20 to 40 sq. ft. of sod

25 to 30 sq. ft. of sod

48. Should Bahia grass be used for a home lawn where a well- manicured appearance is desired by the homeowner?

No. This grass is a moderately low-growing perennial that will do well in soils that are almost entirely sand and low in fertility.

The grass forms a coarse turf that looks good from a distance but up close does not have a dense, uniform appearance needed for home lawns. Bahia grass may be used for a home lawn if the owner realizes that the quality of the lawn will never be topnotch.

What type of maintenance is necessary for a lawn that is almost entirely Bahia grass?

One of the advantages of this grass is its ability to get by on very little assistance from anyone. It needs only small amounts of fertilizer, anti it is fairly drought resistant. It does well on poor soil as well as on a good soil. The only maintenance it requires at regularly scheduled intervals is flowing. It should be clipped often at 2 1/2 to inches with a sharp mower; the clippings should be re moved after each mowing.

50. Which variety of Bahia grass is best suited for home lawns?

There are several different varieties of this grass, most of which are best suited for pasture use or along roadsides. Pensacola, Paraquay 22, Paraquay, Argentine, and common Bahia are the more common varieties on the market, with Argentine and Paraquay 22 the two used mostly for home lawns.

51. What are sonic of the characteristics that make St. Augustine- grass popular for Southern lawns?

Some of the reasons most often given are its ability to tolerate shade (if not too heavy), tolerance of salty soils, ability to grow well regardless of soil conditions, and its natural dark-green color. which really stands out when properly fertilized and managed.

52. How is St. Augustine grass established into a new lawn?

Seed is not commercially available for this grass so it has to be established by vegetative propagation methods. This means sod- cling the entire lawn, or plugging, sprigging, or spot-sodding.

Sodding the entire lawn is expensive and therefore is usually not done. Plugging is accomplished by using 3 to 6-inch squares of sod and planting them in the soil on 12-inch centers. The fastest way is to use sprigs (individual stolons) and plant them end to end in rows 4 inches to 6 inches apart.

53. How much maintenance does St. Augustine grass need?

This grass requires about as much attention as does Bermuda- grass. Considerable attention must be given in order to develop it into a nice lawn, A good fertilization program, proper watering, and regularly scheduled mowing are critical if your lawn is to be thick and cushiony.

Maintenance Requirements of St. Augustine grass

FERTILIZATION Too much fertilizer causes this grass to build up excessive amounts of thatch in short periods of time, whereas too little fertilizer will cause the grass to turn yellowish. Local climatic conditions govern the amount of fertilizer that needs to be applied. Check with a local garden center for recommendations on the proper rates for your area. A well-fed lawn will be able to withstand more abuse than a poorly fed one.

WATERING This grass requires large amounts of water to keep it growing, especially during the warmer parts of the year. When watering, apply enough to soak deeply into the soil to encourage the grass roots to grow down into the ground.

Mowing The varieties used for home lawns should be cut at a height of 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches. If Cut any shorter than this, the grass will be severely weakened and will eventually die. Using a mower with sharp blades is essential if the lawn is to look uniform. Dull blades will tear at the grass blades and give the lawn a whitish color. Since this grass builds up thatch readily, you should catch the clippings so they cannot add to this problem. Set your mower 1/2-inch higher than normal when mowing in shady locations: this will give the grass that extra chance to do well.

54. What pests cause the most problems on St. Angustine grass?

Both insects and diseases can be problems if not kept under control. Chinch bugs, armyworms, and sod webworms all can do extensive damage, with the chinch bug usually being the most serious. Gray leafspot and brown patch account for a majority of the disease problems. Both diseases can be controlled easily if the chemicals are applied before the disease has done most of the damage. Weeds should not be a problem if the lawn is healthy and has been maintained properly. If used as a spot treatment, 2, can be used to control broadleaf weeds. But St. Augustine grass is susceptible to 2, in large doses.

55. What are some of the characteristics of centipede grass that make it a good lawn grass?

One feature that makes this an excellent grass is its ability to do well without much care from the homeowner. This grass spreads by stolons and has the ability to do well in any kind of soil. Although it can get by on very little fertilizer, it will perform much better if it is fed 2 to 4 times a year. Be careful not to over-fertilize. It should be mowed at 1 inch to 1% inches high but can be mowed as low as % inch for a highly manicured lawn. Mow high rather than short in the shade. Don’t plant this grass where it will get heavy traffic, or it will wear out quickly, and recovery is usually very slow.

56. Are there any improved varieties of centipede grass available?

Common centipede-grass is most often used, but one new variety, Oklawn, is now available on a limited basis. This new variety is more tolerant of drought and heat than common centipede grass. It also does equally well in shade or sunlight and shows excellent resistance to insects and disease problems. Both varieties will do well as lawn grasses in the southern two thirds of the Southern grass region. The cooler temperatures found in the upper third of the region will not allow these grasses to do very well.

57. Does carpet grass require a lot of work to keep it looking nice in a lawn?

This depends on what you consider to be “a lot of work.” Generally, this grass requires very little maintenance for it to survive, but the more you do for it the better it will perform. If you follow a good fertilization program, keep it watered, and mow frequently, carpet-grass will form a dense, thick lawn. Don’t try to grow this grass in shaded areas.

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