Choosing your southern grass

Choosing the best turf grass for your southern lawn depends on two factors: how much sun your lawn will receive, and its geographical position within the warm seasonal grass region. For southern lawns the key grass options are: bermudagrass, St. Augustine, centipedegrass, zoysia, tall fescue, and buffalograss.

Bermudagrass Bermudagrass is a vigorous warm grass of the season that spreads through widespread stolons and rhizomes. This is a common crop in the South and Southwest. It needs full sun, and shade tolerance is very low. There are two basic classes of bermudagrasses — those which can be formed from seed, and those which can be planted only from sprigs or sod. Seeded bermudas like normal, Yuma, Sundevil, and U3 are less expensive to set up, and appear to be cheaper to maintain. The seeding rate goes from 1 to 1 1/2 lbs. By 1000 sq. M. Ft. The best time to start a bermuda lawn from seed is from late spring when temperatures in the night remain above 65 degrees until late summer.

Sodding is the most common method by which a hybrid bermudagrass lawn is formed, although sprigging is also used. Bermuda lawns can be sodded at any time of the year, but the best time is in the summer.

For planted bermudagrass the best mowing height is no greater than 1.5 inches. The hybrid types, often used on golf courses, have a lower height of mowing. Bermudagrasses, when properly mowed, fertilized, and fed, have no major disease or insect problems. Seeded bermudagrasses have the lowest water and fertilization requirements of all southern grasses except for buffalograss.

St. Augustine St. Augustine is a popular and widely used lawn grass from Florida to California in the tropical coastal areas of the south. Its popularity is primarily due to the southern grasses having the greatest shade tolerance, though it thrives even in full sun.

St. Augustine, with a larger blade of leaves than most other lawngrasses, spreads through the stolons. With proper fertilization and moisture, it is fairly easy to establish by sodding or plugging, and will do well in most types of soil. It is however very susceptible to freezing temperatures and killing winter; thus restricting its use in the upper south.
The available St. Augustine grasses vary greatly in their resistance to the cold. Before you buy, make sure the one you pick has good winter survival records in your area.

Several different St. Augustine strains are available to provide a green, dense lawn for the homeowner. But only those identified as resistant to a disease called St. Augustine Decline (SAD) should be bought. By planting plugs of the latest SAD-resistant strains, older St. Augustine lawns that have SAD can be strengthened.

During the summer months the best time to sod St. Augustine is when temperatures stay above 65 degrees. Of optimal growth it generally uses more water than bermuda. St. Augustine needs at least 2 inches in sun and 2.5 to 3 inches in shadow.

Zoysiagrass Zoysia isn’t as shade tolerant as St. Augustine, but is much more shade tolerant than bermudagrass. Since zoysia is the southern grass’s most winter-hardy, it does better in the upper southern regions. Zoysia isn’t resistant to drought like bermuda or buffalograss. It is planted most often as sod or as plugs. Zoysia spreads through stolons and rhizomes, and it takes a significant period of time before plugs form a complete cover.

There are typically two core forms of zoysia available: Emerald and Meyer. Emerald has a leaf blade much finer than Meyer, and can form a rather dense, dark green lawn. Meyer’s leaf blade is average textured like a typical bermudagrass, but can also form a thick green lawn.

Meyer is usually more resistant to drought than Emerald although both are well suited to dry conditions. Thatch growth can be a major problem with zoysia grasses but with proper mowing, water, and fertilization, it has no serious disease or insect problems. The optimum height for mowing is about 1.5 inches.

Buffalograss This is the only turfgrass from Texas to Canada originating in the North American great plains. This is a warm turfgrass of the season, spreading through stolons.

Buffalograss has fine blades with a blue-green colour. It won’t form turf as thick as other grasses in the South. Buffalograss is a growing interest for low-maintenance lawn areas. It can survive extreme drought conditions, has low fertility requirements, and when left unmowed, it will usually not grow by more than 4 to 5 inches. Yet buffalograss has little resistance to the darkness.

Some recent varieties of buffalograss, such as Prairie, Buffalawn, and 609 are only available as sod. A increasing number of varieties known as seeds are available, including Comanche, Texoka, Plains and Topgun. Buffalograss isn’t suitable for everyone, nor for many lawn areas. But its drought tolerance and low maintenance requirements in the upper south and semi-arid regions have increased interest among many homeowners. The best height to mow is 2 inches.

Tall Fescue While turf form tall fescue is generally considered a northern, cool seasonal grass, its use is increasing in the upper south, especially on well shaded lawns instead of St. Augustine’s. For the southern summers, tall fescues also have excellent heat and drought tolerance and can withstand cold winter temperatures with very few issues.

Tall fescue is a common species because it remains green, even when dormant, all winter. Using two or more enhanced tall fescues of the turf form as a blend also provides a heartier lawn than using a single older fescue variety such as K-31.

Tall fescue is a bunch of grass, and is usually formed by seeding. Fall or early spring is the best time of the year to plant tall fescue. The general rate of seeding is 8 livres. By 1000 sq. Ft., but follow the recommendations of the manufacturer set out in the box or bag. For tall fescue the optimal mowing height is 2 inches.

Centipedegrass Centipedegrass is well suited in the south and upper south to most soils and climatic conditions, but is not so well adapted to the more and western regions of the Mississippi. The leaf blade is of a medium texture and forms a thick, fine, low-growth turf. Centipede can be formed either by seed or vegetative sod planting, and it spreads against the soil by stolons which lie flat. Sowing 1 lb at a time. By 1000 sq. Ft. It is fairly cold tolerant, and usually works well in changing areas of shade. Centipedegrass is considered a low-maintenance grass and typically produces a lawn of lesser quality than bermudagrass or St. Augustine. It does not require frequent mowing but 1.5 inches is the best mowing height.

In the south, many homeowners use improved perennial ryegrass for supervised bermudagrass, which keeps the lawn green throughout the winter. In the upper south, the best time to be supervised is during the first half of September. The last half of September into the first part of October is the best time in the lower South regions. Ideally, perennial ryegrass should be planted around 6 to 8 weeks before the first heavy frost’s average date, and dormant before the bermudagrass goes. The lowest seeding rate throughout the winter is 3 lbs, just to give the lawn a little green colour. By 1000 sq. 5. Ft. Nevertheless use 8 to 10 lbs. By 1000 sq. Ft. to keep the green lawn relatively dense during the winter months.

Supervision requires no special equipment other than seed spreader or fertilizer spreader. The biggest drawback potential to supervise with perennial ryegrass is that some plants may persist as the weather turns warmer into the summer. In the Bermuda lawn the ryegrass then becomes weeds. Low mowing and less water promote bermudagrass over ryegrass, or use a post-emergent herbicide to control ryegrass.

When combined, the southern grasses produce no quality lawns. Because they are distributed by stolons, mixed varieties appear to segregate each variety and form distinct patches. Choose from the southern grasses that best suit your geographic area and unique lawn conditions, i.e., sunny, cool, damp or arid. Then determine whether to use seed, sod or sprigs. Doing yourself can be a lot of work but a nice, well-kept lawn is worth it! It’s going to benefit your house, family and the world.

Make sure you buy seed of quality!
Be cautious about low-cost seed mixtures, as a homeowner. They also contain grasses normal, unadapted, temporary and of low quality. Better seed varieties can generally cost a little more but the potential for better lawn quality lies within that crop.
Read the seed label and see what you get inside the box or bag.