Choosing a Garden Lawn
In this article, we will be discussing some of the grass types that are used to become that outdoor carpet of green. The five- star hotel where I was employed many years ago had some of the most beautiful lawns. The landscape team that I was a part of did such an amazing job taking care of the different areas where lawns were installed.
It’s amazing how great a lawn looks when it has been properly installed, watered, fertilized and cut at the right height. Even after cutting the lawn at home I would go back several times within that day just to muse over how great everything looks. With each look, you would probably think I was seeing my lawn for the first time.
Another benefit of grass or sod is that once properly cared for it makes such a great ground cover. Weeds do not stand a chance when a lawn is maintained in the right way. Only when lawns are stressed because of improper care weeds begin to take over. So not only will we be looking at some of the different grass types but we will also be looking at how to maintain them in the proper way not only to be admired by us but by family, friends, and neighbors.
St Augustine grass
Here where I live on one of the beautiful and sunny islands of the Bahamas, St Augustine grass is the most sold variety of grasses because it’s a warm-weather grass. It can withstand salt spray from our beaches to a certain degree and it looks beautiful once properly maintained.
Care should be taken when installing turf. Factors to consider before installing turf are location, soil ph, soil type and the amount of traffic and durability of the specific grass type chosen.
Just a little food for thought before I move on. The cons of planting St Augustine grass is that it is not only a poor shade turf but it cannot tolerate continual foot traffic. If planted in shaded areas the grass will become weak and thin out. As a result, weeds will take over and eventually the grass will die. So if it’s your desire to plant St Augustine in a shaded area eg. under a tree, you will have to prune back some of those branches to let sunlight through to the point where it can reach your grass. Heavy traffic will cause the soil to become compacted. When this happens the turf can no longer take up nutrients and water. Hence if there is no proper air circulation soon the turf will begin to die out. Signs of this would be bare spots followed by weeds that will begin to grow in these bare spaces and if counteraction is not taken the lawn will eventually die.
St Augustine grass installation methods
There are many ways to install St Augustine grass. Three methods for installing this turf is called:
Though it may be a bit costly lawns are established much quicker using this method. The whole area to be planted is overlaid with turf. Place the grass in such a way that the edges of each piece of grass touch each other at the end. The reason for this is that grasses will not only grow in a uniform way but weed seeds will not be able to germinate because of the sunlight not being able to reach them.
Newly installed lawns should be watered in the morning and then again in the afternoon with 1/4 inch of water before the sunsets. Once the roots begin to hold fast to the soil you can reduce your watering as the turf needs water. A sure sign to know when St Augustine is due for watering is when the grass begins to wilt, especially if it makes a crunching sound when walked on or when footprints are visible long after you would have walked on the lawn.
Sprigging is another method that you can use to plant St Augustine grass. This method is labor-intensive and should only be used in a small area that is to be planted. The Spriggs are stolons or runners that have about two nodes. They are to be planted end to end in rows, covered with soil and leaving the leaves exposed.
Keep the soil moist at all times. Lawns will take much longer to establish when it is too dry for too long but with much patience and proper care, you will have a full healthy lawn.
Plugging is another method that you can use to start a lawn. Plugging involves cutting the sod into small squares and placing each piece of plug-in shallow holes that have already been dug. When planting ensure that only the roots are covered with soil. The leaves must be exposed and each hole should be the same depth and the same spacing 2-4 inches apart for uniform growth. Keep the soil moist at all times and as the grass begins to grow together you can reduce the amount of water.
The mowing height of the turf
When mowing St Augustine grass as with any other turf, always cut at the proper height because turf that is cut at the wrong height can cause the lawn to become stressed and when this happens diseases and insects will take over. Also, it is advisable to put your turf on a mowing scheduled program.
Don’t just mow every now and then but mow grass as needed and stick with that program. In the rainy season, you may have to increase mowing because, during the rainy months, grass grows more rapidly. The height of St Augustine grass should be anywhere from 3-4 inches.
Try to avoid cutting lower than this because this can cause problems that were spoken off a little earlier. Also mowing too infrequently and not watering turf the right way can cause thatch buildup. Keep mower blades sharp at all times because dull blades can tear the grass which can, in turn, cause the grass to become stressed and weak, resulting in insects and weeds taking over.
Your turf will tell you when it’s time to get water. The first sign is that the grass blades will fold inwardly or wilt. This is a sign that your turf needs to get watered immediately.
When watering turf put no more than 3/4 inches of water over the lawn area. This will cause the roots of the lawn to develop a deep root system. Insufficient watering will cause the roots to remain at the upper surface which is not good for your turf. Once you have given your turf the amount of water that it needs (3/4) don’t water again until it shows signs of needing water.
Fertilizing your turf
In order for your lawn to maintain a healthy look, it’s good to put your lawn on a fertilizer program. Turf can be fertilized 4 times per year that’s every 3 months or 2 times per year (every 6 months). High maintenance lawns are fertilized four times annually and 2 times yearly is for low maintenance.
You can use either 10-10-10, 16-4-8 or 6-6-6, at the rate of 1 pound per 1000 square feet per application is good. At the most favorable level, St Augustine grass should receive 4 lbs of nitrogen per 1000 square feet per year.
When using fertilizers always follow label because the label is law.
Applying fertilizers too heavy can cause your turf to burn or turn brown and wilt
Pest problems can destroy a beautiful lawn. Knowing how to identify them and counterattack will go a long way in ensuring that your lawn looks good at all times. The main pest problems that attack St Augustine grass is chinch bugs, webworms, armyworms, grass loppers, and mole crickets. To learn more about these insects click this link. Turf insects and their control.
Some additional diseases that may also attack this turf are gray leaf spot, brown patch, and take-all root rot disease. For more on disease click this link. Turf disease.
A beautiful well- maintained lawn can go a long way in not only adding beauty to your home but also increasing its value. So put these methods in place to ensure that your lawn is healthy and vibrant.
Bermudagrass can withstand heavy traffic. Therefore this turf is great to install for sports fields, golf courses, stadiums and so on. Bermudagrass can grow in just about any soil type.
This turf can establish very quickly and can stand up to or compete with weeds. That’s what makes this turf such a good ground cover. You can purchase this turf as sprigs, sod or seeds. Bermudagrass, however, has its share of problems. This turf does not or cannot tolerate shade and turns brown in extremely cold weather.
Insects, disease, nematodes, and thatch build-up can also be a problem with this turf. Don’t plant this turf next to flowers or plant beds, because the runners are difficult to control if allowed to grow in flower and plant beds.
The best time to install bermudagrass in tropical climates is in April-September. One method of installation is plugging. This is done by cutting the grass in small squares with a cutlass and space them about 12-21 inches apart. Make sure not to let the turf dry out because water is most crucial for the turf in establishing itself.
Another method of establishing bermudagrass lawns is by sprigging. This method involves broadcasting the sprigs over the area at the rate of 200-400 bushels per acre 5-10 bushels per 1000 sq. ft. then press into the soil. In a smaller area such as a home, sprigs can be installed by hand.
Lastly, there is sodding where the sod is laid on top of the moist soil with its edges tightly fitted together so no weeds can grow through.
Again make sure that the newly installed lawn stays watered. Water sod twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening before sunset. The watering schedule should be twice a day for the first 2-4 weeks. Once the sod is established you can decrease watering to one time per day or as needed. One sure sign to look for is when the grass begins to wilt, 3/4 inches of water over the turf area should be sufficient.
Fertilize bermudagrass with 16-4-8 at the rate of 1.0 pound of nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft., For lawns that are low maintenance turf such as homes you can fertilize twice a year or every six months. For high maintenance turf such as sports field turf, fertilize every three months that’s four times per year.
It is also good to leave a thin layer of grass clippings on your turf after each cut, in that way the clippings will recycle nutrients back into the lawn as they decompose.
The mowing height of the turf
The correct mowing height for your turf also plays a very vital role in the overall health of your lawn. Therefore the proper mowing height of bermudagrass is 3/4-1 1/2 inches. Turf may have to be cut more during the growing season. Make sure that the mower blade is sharp at all times.
As mentioned earlier clippings can be left on the turf surface to recycle nutrients. The only reason for removing clippings is if there is a build-up of grass clippings where they are laying in clumps. Removal of excess clippings is important because if allowed to remain, this can lead to turf disease and insect infestation.
Pest problems to watch out for are mole crickets, bermudagrass mites, cutworms, armyworms, and grass loopers. To learn more about insects click this link. Turf insects control.
Watch out for diseases such as brown patch, leaf spot, and dollar spot. To learn more about turf diseases click this link. Turf disease control.
In order to have a beautiful lawn, care should be taken to make sure that your lawn requirements are met, so by putting these methods in place, it will ensure that your lawn stays healthy and happy.
Bahiagrass is loved by most homeowners because of their low maintenance qualities. Bahiagrass has the ability to survive with dry soil that is infertile and their resistance to pests have caused this grass to become widely respected by those who are looking for a low maintenance lawn.
This turf can be installed by seed or sod. Please ensure that your soil is properly prepared before planting the seeds or installing sod. April through June is the best time to plant seeds. Or if you prefer seeds can be planted later within the year (September or October) but grass may take longer to grow because of the cold weather.
Water your turf as needed or when grass slowly recovers from footprints and begins to wilt. watering with 3/4 inch of water is recommended. Do not overwater to prevent disease infestation and root rot.
Apply a fertilizer of 16-4-8 or 10-10-10 to lawn area at the rate of 1 lb of nitrogen per 1000 sq.ft.
N.B. A common problem of bahiagrass is iron deficiency. To correct this problem apply chelated iron or ferrous sulfate (2 oz in 5 gallons of water to cover 1000 sq.ft).
Apply iron every 6-8 weeks so grass can maintain its color. Use ammonium nitrogen sources to reduce soil ph and bring balance to the soil.
To have and maintain a healthy lawn, Bahiagrass should be mowed at a height of 3 inches. This lawn may have to be mowed more often during the rainy season. Remember to leave grass clippings on the lawn to be recycled for nutrients but if there is a build-up of clippings or clumps, you can remove them off of lawn area.
The main pest problem of Bahiagrass is mole crickets. To learn more about mole crickets and their control-click this link. Turf insect control.
Dollar spot is a disease that does minor damage to Bahiagrass. To learn more about disease control-click this link. Turf disease control.
While this grass is a favorite of home owner’s because of low maintenance, care should always be taken to meet turf requirements. So follow these methods to ensure the health of your lawn
Centipedegrass can be established by sod, sprigs, seeds, or plugs. Make sure to properly prepare the area beforehand by removing rocks and debris and ensuring that the planting area is leveled.
Planting Centipedegrass by sodding is costly but the best part is that you will have an instant lawn. When laying sod make sure that the ends of the sod are firmly pressed or fitted together to avoid weeds from finding a space to grow through.
After sod is installed make sure that each slab is leveled so that you can have a nice even lawn.
Planting by sprigs involves digging a shallow hole and laying the runners in the hole then covering with soil, making sure that the leaves are exposed above ground. This method is very labor-intensive and turf may take longer to establish but if done properly and cared for in the right way you will eventually have a lush healthy lawn.
Plugging is a method where sod slabs are cut into small squares and placed in rows with 2-6 inches of space between them. With proper care, the turf will join or grow together as the soil stays moist and the root is not allowed to dry out
The area to be planted using this method should receive 4 oz of seeds per 1000 sq.ft.
Plant seeds from April-March for best results. Seeds may take anywhere between 2-4 weeks to germinate.
Apply 16-4-8, 10-10-10, etc to the lawn at the rate of 1 lb of nitrogen per 1000 sq.ft. One of the major problems of Centipedegrass is Chlorosis. Chlorosis is caused because of iron deficiency. Signs of this deficiency is that the grass blades turn yellow. Iron deficiency can be corrected by using Ammonium Sulfate or Ammonium Nitrate. Ferrous Sulfate or Chelated Iron can also be applied.
Apply Ferrous Sulfate at the rate of 2 oz in 5 gallons of water per 1ooo sq.ft.
The mowing height of Centipedegrass is 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Try not to allow grass to become overgrown because this can cause thatch build-up. Make sure the blade of the mower is sharp to avoid tearing of the turf.
Watergrass as needed. Look for signs of leaf wilt and areas where the grass is slow to recover from foot traffic. Make sure that the soil stays moist at all times in order for the lawn to survive and to establish much faster.
Water your turf thoroughly and don’t allow roots to dry out. Apply 1/2 inch of water twice a day, in the morning and in the evening before the sunsets. Once your lawn has been established, (anywhere from 2-4 weeks from the time of installation) reduce watering and only water when lawn shows signs of wilt or makes a crunching sound when walked on.
Pest control methods
Watch out for pests such as grubs, crickets, moles, spittlebugs, webworms, and ground pearls. To learn more about these pests and how to control them click on this link. Turf insect control.
Diseases that attack this turf are dollar spot and brown patch. To learn more about these diseases click on this link. Disease control
Much care should be taken when maintaining this turf. Proper maintenance practices will go a long way in ensuring that you have a nice beautiful lawn.
Zoysia grass is also an excellent turf that can make a beautiful lawn. This turf is established by sod, sprigs, and plugs. Care should be taken however in the proper establishment of this turf. Make sure that the planting area is properly prepared.
Sodding is a good way to have an instant lawn, make sure that soil is moist at all times, water lawn twice a day once in the morning and then again once again in the evening. Water turf using this method for about 2-4 weeks then reduce water on an as-needed basis
or when turf shows signs of needing water, like leaf bald folded or areas in the lawn that is slow to recover from foot traffic.
Plugging is another method that involves cutting the sod into small squares digging a shallow hole and planting the grassroots in the hole leaving the grass leaves exposed to the sun
Sprigging involves using grass runners that have about 3-4 nodes, the sprigs are planted end to end in rows 6-8 inches apart, leave a part exposed to the sunlight, make sure that soil is moist at all times because this is important in order for turf to establish.
For sprigging, sodding and plugging, water grass twice a day once in the morning and then again in the evening before the sunsets. With much patience and proper maintenance, grass runners will establish a beautiful lawn. Water only as needed when grass shows signs of wilt. Watergrass frequently to ensure that the soil is moist.
When fertilizing Zoysiagrass use fertilizers such as 6-6-6, 16-4-8 or 10-10-10, fertilize turf 4 times a year or every 3 months or 2 times per year or every six months for low maintenance lawns. Read the label and follow label because the label is law.
The mowing height of this grass is 2-3 inches.
The main pest problems of Zoysiagrass is lawn caterpillars and hunting billbugs. To learn more about these insects and how to control-click this link. Pest control methods.
Disease problems consist of rust, dollar spot, and brown patch. To learn more about disease control-click this link. Disease control.
Installing a lawn can not only beautify your home but also increase its value once properly maintained. A healthy lawn also makes a good ground cover stopping weed seeds from germinating. So by installing and maintaining a lawn, it can pay off in more ways than one.
About the author
Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.