Growing Grass - Knowledgebase Question

Tampa, Fl
Question by bblack7614
March 28, 2010
I have 3 oak trees in my front yard. I recently purchased a PH test kit and found the soil to be very acidic. Its hard for me to grow grass. I have some grass in the yard, but not much, very spoty. Lots of bare places. What do I need to do about the soil and what kind of grass grows best in an areas that gets full sun,and then the areas directly under the oaks that gets little?



Answer from NGA
March 28, 2010


It's difficult to get grass to grow beneath oak trees. The soil is typically dry and any turf you plant will have to compete with tree roots for moisture and nutrients. You can apply lime to your soil to help mellow it and make it more hospitable to turfgrass. Pelleted lime should be available in the fertilizer section of your local garden center. Apply according to label directions.

As for turf selection, 'Amerishade' is a true ?dwarf? cultivar of St. Augustine with a very slow and prostrate growth habit and a lower mowing height (1.5 to 2 inches) than standard cultivars. Its mowing frequency is less than those of most other St. Augustinegrass cultivars, with research showing that it can go for just over two weeks even in the summer months before needing mowing. Like the other dwarfs, it has an increased tendency to produce thatch and is very susceptible to disease. It does not perform well in the northern parts of the state and can experience winterkill during cold years. Due to its slow growth habit, it also has greater difficulty recovering from damage or injury in comparison to other St. Augustinegrass cultivars. It maintains a deep green color and has good shade tolerance.

'Floratam' is an improved St. Augustinegrass that was released jointly in 1973 by the University of Florida and Texas A & M. 'Floratam' is the most widely produced and used St. Augustinegrass in Florida. It is a coarse-textured cultivar that has poor cold and shade tolerance relative to other St. Augustinegrass cultivars. It will not persist well in environments that receive less than 6 hours of sunlight daily. It grows vigorously in warm weather, but has a relatively long period of dormancy in north Florida and greens up more slowly in the spring than some cultivars. When first released, it had UF-documented chinch bug resistance, although that has largely been lost over time and chinch bugs are now a major pest of 'Floratam'. It is also susceptible to gray leaf spot and other diseases. 'Floratam' is intolerant of atrazine herbicides when temperatures are above 85?F. It is a ?standard? cultivar and should be mowed at 3.5 to 4 inches.

'Delmar' is a dwarf cultivar that is often sold as sod or plugs. It has good shade tolerance and also does well in full sun. It has short internodes, a dark green color, and good cold tolerance. It should be mowed at 1.5 to 2.5 inches. 'Delmar' is susceptible to chinch bugs, sod webworms, and brown patch disease. Like the other dwarfs, it has a tendency to become thatchy.

Hope this information helps you choose just the right sod for your yard.

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