Lawn Care 101

Know Your Turf

To maintain a healthy lawn you must know and understand its needs. Then establish a maintenance schedule designed specifically for your lawn. The first step is knowing what type of grass you have.  Details and photos of the most common turf varieties for this region are listed below. If you're unable to determine this on your own, contact us, a reputable turf company, or your local extension office for assistance.

BERMUDA

 

Characteristics: A warm-season grass with a fine to medium leaf texture. It is dark green, dense and low growing and spreads via a very deep, extensive root system. Some varieties tolerate very low maintenance, while others produce lawns of exceptional beauty when given extra care.

Recommended use: It is best adapted to hot, dry or tropical climates. It is used for residential and commercial landscapes, golf courses, sport fields, parks and recreation areas. Makes an ideal lawn for homes with children and pets. Withstands wear better than most grasses. It can tolerate heavy traffic and  recovers more rapidly than other grasses when damaged.

Growing Conditions: Heat tolerant up to 110 F° and performs best during periods of heat. Highly drought resistant, but also responds well to irrigation in dry periods. Can go into summer dormancy when irrigation is withheld; once a moisture supply returns it will green up again. Some varieties have better tolerance to heat and drought than others.  At temperatures below 55 F° it goes dormant, turning tan or brown for winter. It is has poor hardiness to cold.

Sun/Shade: Requires full sun for most of the day for proper growth. Not suitable for shady sites.

Water Needs: Moderate - apply at least 1 inch of water as a deep soaking every 4 to 7 days to encourage a deep, healthy root system during hot or dry periods. Avoid frequent, shallow watering that results in shallow roots, permitting weed germination and growth.

Mowing & Thatching: Optimum mowing height is 2 inches for a quality lawn. Slow growth results in less mowing. Mow regularly with a sharp rotary or reel mower, allowing clippings from frequent mowing to remain on the lawn. Never remove more than 1/3 of the shoot growth at one mowing. Minimal thatch build-up, seldom requires dethatching.

Disease, Weed & Insect Control: Aggressive enough to compete with weeds, reducing the need for chemical controls. Minimal disease and insect problems that can be chemically controlled.

 

CENTIPEDE

 

Characteristics: A warm-season grass with a medium to coarse textured blade forming a dense, medium to dark green turf. Produces an attractive, low maintenance lawn.

Recommended Used: Best adapted to hot, humid and tropical climates, grows well where rainfall is high and summers are warm and humid. Has slow growth patterns and recovers slowly from damage. Not recommended for areas of high traffic or heavy wear.  

Growing Conditions: Grows well in full sun, very tolerant to high temperatures, up to 100 F°. Moderately sensitive to drought, but has a rapid recovery rate. Can go into summer dormancy when irrigation is withheld, upon return of moisture supply, will green up again. Sensitive to low temperatures, going dormant through winter months at temperatures below 55 F°. Cold hardiness ranks between Bermuda grass and St. Augustine.

Sun/Shade: Prefers full sun, but some varieties maintain adequate turf quality in 60% shade; tolerant of pine tree shade.

Water Needs: Moderate - apply at least 1 inch of water as a deep soaking every 4 to 7 days to encourage a deep, healthy root system during hot or dry periods. Avoid frequent, shallow watering that results in shallow roots, permitting weed germination and growth.

Mowing & Thatching:
Optimum mowing height is 2 inches for a quality lawn. Slow growth results in less mowing. Mow regularly with a sharp rotary or reel mower, allowing clippings from frequent mowing to remain on the lawn. Never remove more than 1/3 of the shoot growth at one mowing. Minimal thatch build-up, seldom requires dethatching.

Disease, Weed & Insect Control: 
Aggressive enough to compete with weeds, reducing the need for chemical controls. Minimal disease and insect problems that can be chemically controlled.

FESCUE

 

Characteristics: A cool-season grass with medium to dark green color and moderate density. More extensive root system than any other cool-season turf grass. Texture ranges from coarse to medium for newer turf-types. A bunch-type grass.

Recommended Usage: Very good transition zone grass - adapted to moderately cold winters and warm summers - good tough play lawn - recommended for a wide variety of uses, including residential and commercial landscapes, roadsides, parks, recreation areas, and sports fields. Suitable for moderate recreation and foot traffic areas exhibiting good initial wear recovery, especially in spring and fall when growth is rapid.

Growing Conditions: Good heat tolerance for a cool-season grass, grows in a wide range of temperatures in the transitional climatic zone between cool and warm climates. Less cold hardy than most cool-season grasses. A fairly deep root system helps avoid drought. Can go into summer dormancy, with brown leaves, when irrigation is withheld; upon return of moisture supply, will green up again. Some varieties have better tolerance to heat and drought.

Sun/Shade: Good for transition zones, prefers full sun, but moderately tolerant to partial shade. Of the cool-season grasses, only fine leafed Fescues rank higher in shade adaptation.

Water Needs: Moderate - apply 0.5 to 1 inch of water as a deep soaking every 3 to 7 days to encourage a deep, healthy root system during dry or hot periods. Avoid frequent, shallow watering that results in shallow roots, permitting weed germination and growth.

Mowing & Thatching: Optimum mowing height of 2 to 3 inches for a high quality lawn. Mow regularly with a sharp rotary or reel mower, allowing clippings from frequent mowing to remain on the lawn. Never remove more than 1/3 of the shoot growth at one mowing. Tall fescue forms very little thatch.

Disease, Weed & Insect Control: Varieties are available that are resistant to net blotch, brown patch and crown rust. For weeds, chemical controls are most effective during fall and spring.

BLUEGRASS

 

Characteristics: A cool-season grass, dark green and dense, beautiful appearance, medium leaf texture with excellent leaf uniformity. Forms a strong sod with spreading rhizomes.

Recommended Use: Widely adapted basic lawn grass of cool, humid, semi-arid and temperate regions.  Recommended for both residential and commercial lawns. Also, widely used on sports fields and play areas, parks, cemeteries, commercial lawns and roadsides. Medium tolerance to wear, recovers quickly from occasional abuse, and withstands moderate foot traffic.  It's sturdy rhizomes enhance its quick recovery, especially in spring and fall.

Growing Conditions: Thrives in cool weather and will tolerate very cold winters. Undergoes stress during extremely hot weather, but will maintain good color and appearance if properly watered and cared for.  Can go into summer dormancy when irrigation is withheld; upon return of moisture supply, will green up again. Some varieties have better tolerance to heat and drought. Performs best in fertile, non-acid reacting soil with good drainage.

Sun/Shade: Fair to poor tolerance in shade.  Thrives in sunny areas, a few varieties are moderately adapted to partial shade.

Water Needs: Moderate - apply 0.5 to 1 inch of water as a deep soaking every 5 to 7 days to encourage a deep healthy root system during dry or hot periods. Avoid frequent, shallow watering that results in shallow roots, permitting weed germination and growth.

Mowing & Thatching:
Optimum mowing height 2 - 2.5 inches for a high quality lawn. Mow regularly with a sharp rotary or reel mower, allowing clippings from frequent mowing to remain on the lawn. Never remove more than 1/3 of the shoot growth at one mowing. Kentucky bluegrass may develop some thatch at higher nitrogen levels. Prime time to dethatch is in early fall.

Disease, Weed & Insect Control: New varieties have improved resistance to diseases such as leaf spot, stripe smut, powdery mildew, dollar spot, Typhula blight, summer patch and rusts. If broadleaf weeds need to be controlled with herbicide, the turf should be well established and in vigorous condition. Practically all insects that damage lawns can be controlled biologically or with insecticides.

ST AUGUSTINE

 

Characteristics: A warm-season grass, light to medium green color, coarse leaf texture, with a creeping growth habit. It is robust, fast growing, and establishes rapidly with a low to moderate level of maintenance.

Recommended Use: Well adapted to coastal regions with hot, tropical climates and is good for residential, commercial and industrial landscapes. Its rapid growth habit makes it resilient for moderate traffic and wear.

Growing Conditions: Thrives in heat, adjusting well to temperatures up to 105 F°. There is a wide range of drought tolerance among varieties from fair to excellent. Can go into summer dormancy when irrigation is withheld; upon return of moisture, will green up again. It goes dormant and turns tan colored during winter when temperatures drop below 55 F° with a very poor temperature to cold. Grows on a wide range of soils, but prefers neutral to alkaline soils - has excellent saline salt tolerance. 

Sun/Shade: Adaptation to shade varies among varieties from poor to excellent. Check the specific variety before choosing.

Water Needs: Moderate to high, thrives on wet sites. Apply 0.5 to 1 inch of water as a deep soaking every 3 to 6 days to encourage a deep, healthy root system during dry or hot periods. Avoid frequent, shallow watering that results in shallow roots, permitting weed germination and growth.

Mowing & Thatching: Optimum mowing height 2 - 3 inches for a high quality lawn, mow too low and weeds are likely to gain a foothold. Mow regularly with a sharp rotary or reel mower, allowing clippings from frequent mowing to remain of the lawn. Never remove more than 1/3 of the shoot growth at one mowing. A mild vertical cutting may be needed during the warmer months on a vigorous turf that has received high nitrogen fertilization.

Disease, Weed & Insect Control: A well-maintained turf will provide the best weed control. Some varieties are resistant or tolerant of chinch bugs and to the St. Augustine decline (SAD) virus. Too high a rate of nitrogen fertilization can increase thatch build-up, encourage chinch bugs and brown patch damage. Most fungal diseases of St. Augustine grass can be controlled with fungicides.

ZOYSIA

 

Characteristics: A warm-season grass with a fine to medium coarse leaf texture. Color ranges from light to medium green and forms a dense, low maintenance, spreading lawn.  Growth rate of shoots and easily maintained.

Recommended Use: Good in hot, humid and tropical climates and can withstand very heavy usage. Recommended for residential and commercial lawn sites. Exceptionally hardy, has the best wear resistance of any grass, tolerates heavy traffic, but slow to recover from severe thinning.

Growing Conditions: Tolerates heat exceptionally well up to 100 F°, remains green and resists short periods of drought. Takes heat as well or better than any other grass. Can go into summer dormancy when irrigation is withheld; upon return of moisture supply, will green up again. Some varieties have better tolerance to heat and drought than others. It is subject to winter dormancy as it turns tan to brown at temperatures below 55 F°, Zoysia japonica has fair cold hardiness, the best of the zoysias, but still ranks lower than cool-season turf grasses.Tolerates high salinity and infertile soil relatively well.

Sun/Shade: Good to slow growing in partial shade, but much better than some warm-season grasses. Thrives in full sun.

Water Needs: Low to medium, apply at least 1 inch of water as a deep soaking every, 4 to 7 days to encourage a deep, healthy root system during dry or hot periods. Avoid frequent, shallow watering that results in shallow roots, permitting weed germination and growth.

Mowing & Thatching: Optimum mowing height 1.5 to 3 inches above the soil line for a high quality lawn. A slow growth rate reduces mowing frequency. Mow regularly with a sharp rotary or reel mower, allowing clippings from frequent mowing to remain on the lawn. Never remove more than 1/3 of the shoot growth at one mowing. Periodic vertical cutting may be needed to control thatch accumulation if high nitrogen level is applied.

Disease, Weed & Insect Control: Some varieties have good resistance to diseases such as rust and leafspot, and to billbugs. The dense turf produced by zoysia prevents most weeds from appearing.