Looking for a low-maintenance option? This one's for you! This short, low-growing grass holds its own against pests and is commonly found in the Carolinas, Louisiana, and Mississippi since it can grow in acidic soils. The best time to lay down grass seed also depends on where you live. In the North, you'll want to wait for warmer soil temperatures around or above 50 degrees.
You can begin in April or early May and seed until mid June at the latest. But the best time is actually in the fall. You should avoid planting grass seed in the summer when it's too hot and they'll struggle to grow. In the South, avoid seed altogether. Sod words best in this region. Aim for May through June, which is the best time for establishing new grass. Looking to fill out or refresh your lawn fast? Opt for perennial ryegrass if you live up North, or Bermuda grass in plugs or sod form if you live down South.
You can also throw down some Bermuda grass seed to fill in bare areas. Whether you're a lawn care newbie or a seasoned pro, you'll want to follow these best practices to ensure you've got the prettiest lawn in the neighborhood:. Don't just throw it on top of your dirt or bare lawn. If you just leave it on bare ground, seeds have to work a lot harder to germinate and poke through the top soil. Start with a great healthy seed bed by prepping the site and roughing up the soil. Most lawns are a mixture of different grass types.
Using seed species ensures you get better establishment and a healthier looking lawn. Some homeowners lay straw or hay on top of new seeds to keep them in place, but you can also try coconut fiber, which holds moisture in place to nourish seeds. If your lawn looks thin or bare, you can use turf builder, a specially designed product that kills weeds, feeds your grass, and strengthens your lawn all at once.
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The longer grass will also provide more shade to the roots which will hold water in the soil and help to keep the roots cool. Longer grass will also choke out the weeds more efficiently that short grass. It is also a good idea to mow in a different pattern with each cutting.
This will cut the blades on a different side each time and access more weeds by the rotation. Another great mowing tip is to mulch your grass clippings. Many people think they should bag or rake the clippings after they mow, but leaving them to fall back to the ground will add nitrogen back to the ground and provide extra moisture control measures.
Earthworms love the freshly cut clippings, and earthworms can be a gardeners best asset! Leaving the clippings will not cause thatch. Thatch is caused by the use of chemicals on your lawn which destroy the natural organisms needed to breakdown the clippings. It is also a great idea to aerate your turf. Aerating your lawn every few years is enough, but this practice will help the soil to break down and allow water and other nutrients to penetrate deep into the root areas.
Almost every yard and garden center should have an aerator that you can rent for a night to get the job done. This will also help break down thatch that has built up throughout your sod. If you choose to water your lawn, be sure to do it in the early morning. If you water in the evening, the grass and soil will remain wet throughout the night which creates a breeding zone for bacteria and other lawn diseases.
One last tip is to take weeds in their simplicity. No turf can ever be weed free, and you may not want it to be anyway. Weeds provide beneficial nutrients to the lawn as well as control many insects that may attack your grass. These are some great tips for your lawn care, follow the one-third rule of mowing, water in the early morning, and mulch your clippings. Following these simple tips will help your yard to be looking denser and a deep green in no time! How to Grow and Use Capers. Augustinegrass is very shade and salt tolerant but is considered the least cold tolerant lawn grass.
The cultivar Raleigh has the best cold tolerance and is well adapted for the eastern side of the piedmont and the western side of the coastal plain. Seed is unavailable, so cultivars must be vegetatively planted. Augustinegrass grows best in fertile, well-drained soils. Because St. Augustinegrass is fast growing, it needs to be mowed frequently at 2. It should never receive more than 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1, sq ft annually.
At high rates of fertilization and irrigation, thatch buildup may become a problem. Augustinegrass is not tolerant of heavy traffic, compaction, or cold weather. Carpetgrass spreads by stolons. Carpetgrass is a slow- and low-growing, medium-green, coarsely textured lawngrass. It produces a low maintenance, general purpose turf. Carpetgrass resembles St. Augustinegrass and centipedegrass and is often mistaken for centipedegrass but has broader leaves.
It grows well in full sun to moderate shade and performs well in wet, shaded, acid soils where other lawngrasses may not grow. It grows best in full sunlight and does not tolerate cold, drought, salt, or traffic. Carpetgrass requires only 1 pound of nitrogen per 1, sq ft annually, and needs to be mowed only infrequently at 1.
Bahiagrass spreads by stolons and rhizomes. Bahiagrass is seldom recommended as a lawn grass because of its open canopy, unsightly seedheads, and difficulty in mowing. It is best used as a utility turfgrass where appearance is not a concern and low maintenance is the rule. A comparative chart of principal lawn grasses used in each region is provided in Table 1. Study the chart to help select the appropriate grass for the site and the intended use of the lawn.
This information is based on cultivar variety trials and observations by turfgrass researchers at North Carolina State University. Cultivar performance recommendations are based on overall quality ratings for each of these commercially available varieties. Establishing a healthy, attractive lawn means planting the best grass for your site at the right time and in a careful manner.
Grass can be seeded or established using vegetation in the form of sprigs, plugs, or sod. The type of grass and the planting method you select will determine the best time of year to plant. Site and soil preparation, including fertilization, are especially important. Preparing the site involves removing weeds and debris, planning for drainage, and grading the site.
Well-prepared soil with adequate nutrients for growing grass encourages the development of a healthy lawn Figure 2. This is especially important if you are planting centipedegrass. It prefers acidic soils and low levels of phosphorus and may not require the addition of lime and phosphorus. Fertilize before planting. Apply fertilizer and lime when the soil is prepared based on these guidelines:.
If you obtained a soil test: Apply the amount of lime and fertilizer recommended for your soil by the soil testing laboratory. For additional information about interpreting a soil test, see Understanding the Soil Test Report. If you did not obtain a soil test: Follow these recommendations for all grasses except centipedegrass. Some common examples of starter type fertilizers required for a 1, sq ft area include 40 pounds of , 20 pounds of , or 16 pounds of For sandy soils, typical to the coastal plain and sandhills of North Carolina, fertilizer rates should be increased by 20 percent.
Divide by the first number on the fertilizer bag to determine the amount of product to be used per 1, sq ft. Example: A fertilizer. Therefore, 6. Therefore, 5 pounds of fertilizer per 1, sq ft will deliver 0. Fertilize after planting. Apply fertilizers uniformly and with care using a centrifugal rotary or drop-type spreader.
Apply half the fertilizer in one direction and the other half moving at right angles to the first pass to ensure thorough and uniform coverage Figure 3. For seeded lawns: Fertilize the new seedlings approximately six to eight weeks after emergence. For more specific maintenance information on your grass type, refer to the NC State TurfFiles maintenance calendars. Use a complete N-P-K turf-grade fertilizer that provides about 1 pound of nitrogen per 1, sq ft or the amount recommended on your soil test. Ideally, the fertilizer should have a or analysis for example, or , and one-fourth to one-half of the nitrogen should be a slow-release form.
If this ratio cannot be located, then a straight-grade analysis product for example, may be used at a 0. For vegetatively planted warm-season grasses: Fertilize throughout the first growing season to encourage faster spread. Every three to four weeks during the growing season, add 0.
To help reduce turf loss : Avoid high nitrogen fertilization of cool-season grasses in the late spring or summer and of warm-season grasses in the fall or winter. Seeding : Cool-season grasses are best seeded from mid-August to October 1, depending on location see Table 2. Seeding beyond these dates increases the chance of failure caused by winter injury.
Spring or late-winter seedlings are often less than satisfactory because the seedling roots do not have time to become well established before the heat and drought of summer. If seeding of a cool-season grass is not accomplished in the fall, your best alternative date for the piedmont is mid-February to early March. Coastal plain areas would be seeded two weeks earlier, whereas the mountain areas would be seeded two weeks later.
If you plan to seed a cool-season grass in the fall, such as tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass, and your lawn site is ready for seeding in late March, April, May, or June, you can obtain a weak, temporary cover to hold the soil in place by seeding annual ryegrass. This approach will only provide limited turfgrass cover and will not be a permanent solution.
Seed the annual ryegrass at 1. Instead of following the above suggestions, you may wish to seed the desired cool-season grass. This procedure may succeed in some years, but in any event will give you ground cover until fall, even if all of the grass dies. Sodding: You may successfully install a cool-season grass sod anytime in the cooler portions of the growing season when the ground is not frozen and anytime during the warmest times of the year with careful water management.
Seeding: Warm-season grasses may be seeded successfully between March 1 and July 1, depending on the species used. See Table 2 for different species and locations. Sodding: Warm-season grasses are best established by sodding at the same dates suggested for seeding, about April until July 1. Professional sod installers have been successful in establishing lawns beyond those dates, but care must be given to ensure that the soil does not dry out.
A Year-Round Plan for the Perfect Lawn
Vegetative: Warm-season grasses may be planted vegetatively by sprigs or plugs from March through July. Lawns can be established by seeding, sodding, or vegetative planting sprigs or plugs. Buying poor-quality seed or plants often results in less-than-satisfactory performance, pest problems, and general disappointment. Selection of seeds or plants is especially important when establishing a lawn. Read the information on the seed tag carefully, and make sure you purchase seed with no noxious weed seed and low levels of other crop seed.
One way to be sure you have seed or planting material that is true to type, free of noxious weed seed, and contains low levels of other crop seed, is to purchase certified seed or sod. A blue certified tag indicates that the seed or plants have met certain standards to assure high quality and low levels of contaminants.
Seeding is usually the most economical method of establishing grasses. To ensure uniform coverage, use a centrifugal rotary or drop-type spreader. Apply half the seed in one direction and the other half moving at right angles to the first pass Figure 3. Lightly cover the seed by hand raking or dragging with a mat or span of chain-link fence. Roll the soil lightly to firm the surface, and provide good seed-to-soil contact. If erosion during establishment may be an issue, mulch grass seed with weed-free small-grain straw or hay.
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Use one bale per 1, sq ft for warm-season grasses and one to two bales for cool-season grasses. This will help conserve moisture, control erosion, and reduce surface crusting until establishment. Once in place, stabilize the mulch by rolling or watering. Twine netting can be used if wind displacement is a problem. If applied evenly and lightly, these materials need not be removed. Vegetative planting is necessary for some grasses that do not produce viable seed seed that will germinate. When this method is used, the planting material must be kept fresh and moist from removal site to planting area.
Keep planting material moist until established. Fertilize with 0. Here are the methods most useful in lawn areas:. Space planting is the planting of separate shoots or sprigs runners, cuttings, or stolons at regular spacings. This labor-intensive method is best used for planting small areas.
Spacing is determined by how fast the grass will spread, how fast you want it to cover, and how much material you have available. The closer the spacing, the faster the lawn will become established Figure 4. Broadcasting is the uniform distribution of sprigs cut stems over the entire area. The sprigs are pressed into the top 0. Large areas planted with bermudagrass or zoysiagrass sprigs require a minimum of 3 to 5 bushels of sprigs per 1, square feet and 5 to 10 bushels yards for extremely fast cover.
Augustinegrass is seldom established through broadcasting because the stems are too sensitive to mechanical damage. Plugging is planting individual pieces 2 inches or larger of sod on 6-inch to inch centers. A 6- to inch spacing should be used for more rapid establishment, whereas using a wider spacing may delay fill for greater than one year. A spacing greater than inches is not suggested when plugging on bare ground.
This is an excellent way to introduce a more adapted lawn grass into an old lawn in an effort to replace old grass by crowding out. Zoysiagrass, St. Augustinegrass, and centipedegrass are often planted by plugging. Lay sod as soon as possible after it has been harvested to prevent injury. Again, to ensure high quality and better chance for success, it is highly recommended that certified sod be used. Figure 4. Cross-section of space planting. In space planting, always leave some part of the plant or spring above the ground. Figure 5. Start sodding from a straight edge and butt strips together in a bricklike pattern.
To prevent drying of planting material, keep the top 1. This may require light watering two or three times a day for 7 to 21 days. Bluegrass takes 7 to 14 days longer to germinate than other cool-season grasses. As the seedlings grow and root, water less often but for longer periods.
For mixtures containing bluegrass, do not make the mistake of decreasing water as soon as the seedlings appear. Continue watering until the bluegrass seedlings emerge. After the third mowing, water to a depth of 6 to 8 inches about once a week or when needed. Begin mowing as soon as the grass is 50 percent higher than the desired height. For example, mow tall fescue back to 3 inches when it reaches 4. The frequency of mowing is governed by the amount of growth, which depends on temperature, fertility, moisture conditions, the season, and the natural growth rate of the grass.
The suggested height of cut is given in Table 1. The homeowner should cut often enough that less than one-third of the total leaf surface is removed. Use a mower with a sharp blade. To reduce the danger of spreading disease and injuring the turf, mow when the soil and plants are dry. If clippings are heavy enough to hold the grass down or shade it, catch them or rake and remove them. Otherwise, do not bag the clippings. Allow them to fall into the turf where they will decay and release nutrients.
This may reduce the need for fertilizer by 20 to 30 percent. Fungicides and insecticides are rarely needed on new lawns, and different planting methods require different pest control methods. If pesticides are used, always read and follow label directions. Siduron Tupersan 50WP may be applied to cool-season grasses at the time of spring seeding for selective pre-emergence control of some annual grassy weeds like crabgrass.
Other herbicides may be applied to young seedlings during establishment. Broadleaf weeds are common in new seedings. However, many will be controlled with frequent mowing at the proper height. After the lawn has been mowed three times, remaining weeds may be controlled using the minimum label rate of a broadleaf herbicide.
The particular herbicide used depends upon the weeds present and the tolerance of the turfgrass to the herbicide. Space-planting sprigs, broadcasting sprigs, and plugging. Atrazine AAtrex or simazine Princep may be applied for control of certain annual grass and broadleaf weeds when sprigging bermudagrass, centipedegrass, St.
Augustinegrass, and zoysiagrass. Do not apply these herbicides over the rooting areas of trees and ornamentals that are not listed as being tolerant on the herbicide label. Pre-emergence herbicides, such as siduron Tupersan and bensulide Betasan , can be applied for annual weedy grass control after sodding cool- and warm-season grasses.
Consider your lawn established when you have mowed it three times. Improper irrigation of lawns results in wasted water, added cost, and unhealthy plants. Water should be applied only when a reasonable portion of the lawn shows signs of moisture stress. A dark bluish-gray color; footprints that remain some time after walking; and wilted, folded, or curled leaves are indications that it is time to water.
A delay in watering at the first signs of wilt will generally not result in permanent damage unless the turf is being allowed to go dormant. If irrigation is not available or desirable, then an alternative to irrigating is to allow the turf to go semi-dormant to dormant. Tall fescue, bermudagrass, and zoysiagrass are tolerant of drought if allowed to go dormant.
General watering recommendations include the following:. Take certain precautions if you do not plan to irrigate throughout the summer. Slowly ease a lush, actively growing lawn into dormancy. This can be accomplished by allowing the drought stress symptoms to appear between infrequent irrigation cycles, by mowing high, and by not over-fertilizing with nitrogen.
Brown, withered leaves are normal signs of dormancy, so do not be alarmed by them. If the lawn is conditioned for this stress and has a reasonable level of maintenance, it should survive without permanent damage. Most turfgrasses can withstand 3 to 6 weeks or longer without rainwater or irrigation and exhibit minimal or no damage, depending on the situation. In the absence of rain, water dormant lawns with a minimal amount about 0.
It is difficult to maintain vibrant green color in cool-season grasses during the summer. Irrigation helps maintain color, but may also increase the risk of disease. For this reason, it is particularly important that cool-season grasses not be overwatered. Use either a rotary centrifugal or reel cylinder mower.
The reel mower is preferred if grasses are cut to less than 1 inch. A soil test should be made at least every two to three years to determine the amounts of lime, phosphorus, and potassium needed by your established lawn. See the Establishing a New Lawn section for the method used to obtain a good soil sample.
A complete fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of or can be used in lieu of a soil test, but it is a poor substitute. Determine the amount of fertilizer, ratio of nutrients or fertilizer elements, and time of application based on the grasses being grown. See Table 3a, b, or c, depending on your region, to determine the amount of nitrogen fertilizer to apply and the time of application. Cool season grasses. Avoid any significant nitrogen fertilization of cool-season grasses, such as tall fescue, after the February application until September for the central piedmont.
If an additional application of nitrogen is made between these dates to improve the color, the rate should be between 0. This application will not improve the longevity of tall fescue but will enhance its green color. The application of high rates or repeated low rates of nitrogen to cool-season grasses in the spring or summer may increase the severity of brown patch Rhizoctonia species , which can kill the grass and should be avoided.
If spring or summer nitrogen applications, or both, are applied to tall fescue, fungicide applications may be necessary to reduce disease symptoms. Warm-season grasses. Avoid fall or winter applications of nitrogen to reduce winter injury. Most soils in North Carolina are acidic and often require the application of lime to sweeten the soil.
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For most turfgrasses, except centipedegrass, soil pH should be between 6. Centipedegrass grows best with more acidic soil with a pH close to 5. Lime may be put on any time during the year. Winter is usually best, however, because there is less traffic. Gentle winter rains minimize runoff, and alternate freezing and thawing help incorporate lime into the soil. Fertilizers and lime should be applied uniformly with a centrifugal rotary or drop-type spreader. Apply half the fertilizer in one direction and the other half moving at right angles to the first pass to ensure uniform coverage Figure 3.
Liquid products can be applied to lawns to provide green color without influencing growth. One group of products that can be used on warm-season turfgrasses contains the nutrient iron Fe. Several formulations of liquid iron can be applied through a boom or hose-end sprayer to darken the green color of a healthy grass. The darker green color provided by the iron products typically lasts 2 to 4 weeks. The second group of products is not a nutrient. The pigment products work best for darkening existing green color, whereas colorants may be applied to brown turf for a green color.
These practices have been used effectively to make dormant warm-season grasses or any severely drought stressed grasses green. These products have not been found to have any significant impact on turfgrass health. Soils that are subject to heavy traffic are prone to compaction. Coring will alleviate this condition.
How To Plant Grass Seed
Use a device that removes soil cores. Chop up the cores often accomplished with a mower and, if possible, distribute them by dragging with a span of chain-link fence or a mat. Coring should be accomplished when the lawn is actively growing so that it can recover from any injury.
Core cool-season grasses in fall or early spring. Core warm-season grasses in late spring or early summer. Some lawn care and landscape companies offer coring service if rental equipment is not available. Sod-forming grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, St. Augustinegrass, and centipedegrass, tend to build up thatch when they are heavily fertilized and watered. When thatch exceeds 0. A light power raking is better than trying to remove too much debris at one time.
When not excessive, thatch buildup can be removed from warm-season grasses by cutting as closely as possible at spring green-up and then raking by hand. To avoid seriously injuring the lawn, a 3-inch blade spacing is required to remove thatch from centipedegrass and St.
Some lawn care and landscape companies have specialized equipment and offer power raking services. Lawn renovation refers to any procedure beyond normal maintenance short of soil modification required to upgrade an existing lawn. A deteriorated lawn is often a symptom of some underlying problem. Failure to identify and correct the exact problem can lead to further lawn deterioration and the need for repeated renovation. These are some of the major causes of turf deterioration:. The problems that caused the lawn to deteriorate must be corrected before the renovation process begins.
Late summer to early fall is the best time to renovate cool-season lawns. Warm-season lawns are best renovated in late spring to early summer. Attempts to upgrade existing lawns when conditions are not conducive to good growth are difficult at best. The first step in lawn renovation is the control of undesirable vegetation that will compete with newly planted grasses. Some weeds growing in small areas may be controlled by hand weeding or removal using a small hoe, rake, or shovel.
Hard-to-control weeds, such as perennial grasses with underground shoots or weeds in large areas, are best controlled with herbicides. Spray most postemergence broadleaf herbicides four to six weeks before seeding. Most selective post- emergence herbicides that control annual grassy weeds, such as crabgrass, should also be applied at least four weeks before seeding. To control perennial grassy weeds, undesirable turfgrasses, annual grasses, and broadleaf weeds, spray the nonselective herbicide glyphosate sold as Roundup or as a generic product.
However, it will take several applications spaced three to four weeks apart to completely control bermudagrass. If perennial grassy weeds like bermudagrass are scattered throughout, consider killing the entire lawn. When using glyphosate, do not disturb the soil or plants before treatment. Tillage or renovation techniques such as vertical mowing, coring, or slicing should be delayed for seven days after application to allow proper movement of the herbicide into underground parts of the weeds.
Young and actively growing weeds are easiest to control, so make sure that the soil is moist several days before application. Carefully read and follow directions and precautions on the herbicide labels. Treat only those areas that need it. Preplanting renovation procedures are designed to create the optimum environment for the establishment of newly planted grasses. This process includes the following steps:.
Reduce competition. Set the rotary or reel mower at the lowest setting, mow, and collect the clippings. Remove all undesirable vegetation, dead grass, thatch, and weeds so that the soil is exposed.