The Q&A Archives: Grass Types

Question: I am planning on tilling up my back yard and re-planting the grass. The soil is in poor shape and I need a grass that will stand up to two large dogs. Can you give me some advice?

Answer: I'd begin by preparing the soil; till first, then rake out the debris.
Organic material improves soil structure. Organic material can be added to sandy soils to increase nutrient and moisture retention. Clay soils can also be amended with organic material to help loosen the soil and provide better aeration and drainage. Compost is the easiest organic material to use. It can be purchased at garden supply stores or can be ordered by the truckload. A rotary tiller works best to incorporate the organic material to your soil. A layer of 1 - 2 inches spread over your site should be tilled to a depth of 3 - 6 inches. Cultivate the soil before planting so that the roots of your turf can penetrate deep into the soil and efficiently absorb water and nutrients. Lawns with strong roots have the best chance at fighting insect and disease problems as well as avoiding weed invasions.

Rototil, then remove construction debris and other trash from the planned lawn area; debris not removed may cause mowing hazards, restrict root growth, and impede water movement.

With a garden rake, grade the area so that the soil slopes away from the house or building.

A slope will allow water to drain away from building foundations or other structures; generally, a 1- to 2-percent slope away from buildings is sufficient.
Avoid steep slopes or berms to reduce water waste from runoff.

Work the soil to break up clods.

Till in soil amendments and add starter fertilizer before doing the final grade on the site.

If time allows, irrigate the area several times to aid in settling and locating low spots that need filling.

Do the final grading with a long aluminum rake or a wooden lawn rake.
Maintain the slope away from the building and make sure the planting site is firm and level.

The best grass type for your area is Bermudagrass. It is a warm-season grass well adapted to warm regions of California. It does best in full sun and high temperatures. During periods of extended low temperatures, bermudagrass will turn brown. In areas where bermudagrass is well adapted, it is very water-efficient and has few pest problems. Both seeded and hybrid varieties are durable and withstand heavy use during the spring, summer, and early autumn months when they are actively growing.

Best wishes with your renovated lawn.

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