There are many problems that you can face growing your lawn. So let’s talk about them and I believe that you can find the best solution in each situation.
Why Do People Have So Many Problems With Their Lawns?
I think it comes down to two main reasons. One is they may not be growing the right grass for their particular area, and the other is maintenance.
When we think about what grass should be grown in one area let’s think about the whole country.
- Along the top tier of the country is our Northern, or cool season, area. So, from New England all the way out to Washington and Oregon.
- Down along the Southern part of the country we grow heat-loving grasses, the warm season grasses, from Florida all the way to California.
- There’s this little area in between called the transition area, Maryland, Southern Ohio, Missouri, and out to the west coast, where both warm and cool-season kinds of grass do okay.
The Cool-Season Grasses
You should mix grasses for the cold type of area! Also, I recommend reading the article about the lazy lawn.
There are two types of grasses that really you should avoid.
Creeping Bentgrass – NO
The first one is the creeping bentgrass. Now, if you play golf or tennis, you’re probably playing on this grass. At a very, very low mowing height. This grass needs to be mowed every day, and it needs a lot of intensive care, so it’s not a good grass for a lawn.
Annual Ryegrass – NO (and a little bit “yes”)
The other one is annual ryegrass, and annual should say to you right away it only lasts for one year. Grows very quickly and vigorously and competes with the good grasses.
You can use it where you need instant grass for erosion control. I consider it a waste of time and energy because when you use it you have to go back the next year and reseed all over again.
Right. So, specialty applications for annual ryegrass, but not on a regular home lawn.
Kentucky Bluegrass – YES
We do have some excellent grasses for the cool season home lawns, Kentucky bluegrass, the premier lawn grass that we think about when we think about a very high-profile lawn, sun-loving, excellent grower. Use it in the mix with other types of grasses – approximately 20% (Kentucky):80% (other grasses). It grows slowly underground, strengthens its roots, and can help avoid weeds.
Perennial Ryegrass For Kids – YES
Perennial ryegrass mixes very well with Kentucky bluegrass. It’s a little bit tougher than Kentucky bluegrass, so in a lawn where there might be a lot of kids playing you’d want to see some perennial ryegrass in that lawn. Up to 40% in the mix.
Tall Fescue & Creeping Red Fescue Grass – YES
By the same token tall fescue, again, a tough grass that will take some traffic, and tall fescue also does well in that transition area in the southern part of the cool season area where it tends to get a little bit hot.
Finally, the fine fescues, which as a group are lower maintenance than the other grasses that I’ve talked about in the cool season area, and creeping red fescue is a grass that you want to make sure you have a lot of if you’ve got some shady areas.
The Warm Season Grasses
In the southern zone, we grow grasses, not in a mix but really just by themselves. You would have the lawn with one kind of grass.
St. Augustine Grass
St. Augustine grass, which you would grow in an area where it might be hot and humid. So, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, very, very vigorous grass. This is a stolon that runs across the top of the ground and roots down into the lawn at every one of those spaces.
Not only will it spread across the lawn, but the stolon will also get into the plant beds and become a maintenance headache. You need to edge this grass quite vigorously.
Here’s Bermudagrass, which you’ll find from Florida all the way over to California as a lawn grass. It tends to have a finer texture, narrower blades. It doesn’t do well in the shade at all. For shade, you’d choose another grass other than Bermudagrass.
Zoysia prefers full sun, but it tolerates light shade. Why do I love this grass? Of course, for the color. That is the color some would call it an emerald green, I would call it a deep inner old green but it responds really well to fertilizer especially if you bomb it hard with nitrogen. I even applied one and a half pounds per thousand on a nap in the very late spring and got excellent results and beautiful color.
How Much Water Do I Need For My Lawn?
Let’s talk about the watering because I think in all the maintenance that people do that’s probably where they make the biggest mistakes. The main thing you want to think about in watering a lawn is to recharge the root zone, get the root zone moist with every watering. So, you water deeply and infrequently. You want to water so that you’re getting the water down.
If you’re only watering so the water gets that deep your roots are only going to be there, and your turf is not going to be very vigorous, and it will dry out. If the water’s going way down here, that’s a terrible waste of water. So people need to know where their root zone is and if the water’s getting down there.
You can use a spade to dig down in the soil to find that level, but I like to use a soil sampler and very simply stick it into the ground and take out this core and look at it and I’ll see how deep the moisture is going. Now, as a general rule, I tell people their lawn needs one inch of water a week.
Now you have them use a rain gauge so they can really see that they’re getting that one inch of water.
They need to translate that into water into what’s happening in their own soil. So, if they run their irrigation system through a cycle, or do one irrigation and then go out and look at how deep that water has gotten they can get an idea of what they need to water their particular lawn.
Every lawn can have nice color and structure but don’t forget about the preparation of your ground before seeding and the maintenance. If you have any questions, please, be free to ask them.