The Q&A Archives: How to start taming my lawn

Question: I am not certain what type(s) of grass I want or need. most has full sun all day, trees/bushes at edges of lawn. The front is level. Back yard has a some level but alot is gentle slope. Alot of clover in the front yard. alot of dill/onion smelling plants in back. Any recommendations would be appreciated

Answer: If you're installing a new lawn, the best approach is to rotill the area, then rake and remove all the debris, including large stones and weeds. Then you'll want to rake the area almost level (you'll need some slope for good drainage). The next step is to broadcast your seeds and then spread a light coating of peatmoss to help hold moisture. You'll also want to roll the area to make sure the seeds have good soil contact. Keep the area watered as often as necessary to keep the grass seeds moist and they should germinate in 7-10 days. As for grass varieties, here are descriptions of the most commonly grown:

Common bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon). Common bermudagrass is a medium textured warm season perennial species with a creeping growth habit. It spreads by rhizomes and stolons and can be established from seed. It grows rapidly during late spring and summer, remains green into late fall and goes dormant after a hard frost. Bermudagrass turns straw-colored during the dormant period and resumes growth when average daily temperatures are above 70?F for several days.

Common bermudagrass tolerates heavy traffic, moderate salinity and close mowing but has poor shade tolerance and is susceptible to winterkill at temperatures below 10?F. Common bermudagrass has a number of pest problems (leaf spot diseases, armyworms and white grub), but its rapid rate of recovery reduces the need for pesticides. It performs best under a moderate level of maintenance, but it can be used as a low maintenance grass in lawns, parks and along roadsides.

Improved common-type bermudagrasses that are planted from seed include Primavera, Sundevil, Sahara, Sonesta, Guymon and Cheyenne. These varieties are typically shorter growing and more dense than common bermudagrass.

Hybrid Bermudagrasses (Cynodon spp.). Hybrid bermudagrasses produce a dense turf with a fine to medium texture and require a higher level of maintenance (fertilization, mowing and watering) than common bermudagrass. All must be established from sprigs or sod. The fine textured varieties including Tifway (419), Tifgreen (328), and Tifdwarf are best suited for sports fields and golf greens. Other varieties including Santa Ana, Sunturf, Ormond and Texturf-10 are best suited for lawns, fairways, and sports fields. Several hybrid bermudagrasses including Midiron and Tufcote have superior cold tolerance.

St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secondatum). St. Augustine grass, often called carpetgrass, is native to the southern Atlantic and Gulf Coast states. It is a coarse textured, warm season perennial grass that spreads by large creeping stolons. It is largely propagated from sod or sod plugs although it can be established from sprigs. St. Augustine grass is limited to areas with mild winter temperatures. It is the most shade tolerant of the warm season grasses and has good fall color retention. St. Augustine grass is among the first of the warm season grasses to green up in the spring.

St. Augustine grass requires a moderate level of maintenance. It has a number of serious pest problems including brownpatch, chinch bugs, white grub and St. Augustine Decline. Several varieties of St. Augustine grass are available including Bitter Blue, Delmar, FX-10, Seville, Texas Common, Floratam, Floralawn and Raleigh. Floratam and Floralawn, Seville and Raleigh are resistant to St. Augustine Decline, but only FX-10, Floratam and Floralawn are also resistant to chinch bugs. However, these later varieties are very coarse textured and are not as shade tolerant or cold tolerant as other varieties.

Or you might opt for a custom mix of grass seeds, available at your local garden center.

Best wishes with your new lawn!

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