3 Simple Steps for a More Beautiful Lawn
-smart choices make lawn care easier-

Posted on June 26, 2018

3 Simple Steps for a More Beautiful Lawn

Growing the perfect lawn doesn't have to be a full-time job. Here are three simple things you can do to create a lush, green carpet of grass without breaking your back or the bank.

1. Start with the Right Grass

There are many varieties of grass seed and sod but they are generally identified as one of two categories; either cool season or warm season grasses. Warm season grasses thrive in Southern areas. They grow best at temperatures between 80 and 95°F. Cool season grasses are the choice for Northern growing areas, even those with harsh winters. They grow best at temperatures between 60 and 75°F.

Popular Warm Season Grasses

GrassCharacteristics
Bermuda (Cynodon dactylon)

As its name implies, Bermuda grass shines in near tropical conditions. It's heat and drought tolerant and once established, grows vigorously on little fertilizer or care. It can be aggressive, though, and could spread beyond your lawn into garden beds and over paths and sidewalks.
Bahia
(Paspalum notatum)
If you've driven through the Southeast, you've probably seen this grass growing along the roadsides and in pastures, where it's popular because of its drought tolerance and ability to flourish in sandy soils. Bahia is a slow grower, so less mowing required, but also a coarse grass that doesn't handle traffic well. However, if you have a particularly infertile or dry patch you want to convert to lawn, Bahia might be your best choice.
St. Augustine
(Stenotaphrum secundatum)
St. Augustine grasses are favorites all along the Gulf Coast regions, an easy maintenance turf choice for hot climates, slow growing, disease and pest resistant, and a strong competitor against weeds. These grasses do not do well in dry or cold conditions, however, and will not hold up in lawns seeing hard use, like athletic fields or playgrounds.
Zoysia
(Zoysia japonica)
Zoysia is almost the perfect grass for summer lawns. This beautiful, soft, low growing grass is easy to maintain, requiring less mowing and fertilizing than other grasses. It's resistant to most pests and diseases. And it does well in a range of temperatures and light levels. However, Zoysia has a tendency to go brown starting in autumn and stay that way through the spring.
Centipede
(Eremochloa ophiuroides)
Centipede is a grass mostly used in South Carolina and Florida, because it does so well in acidic and sandy soils and sunny conditions. This grass cannot tolerate a hard freeze, a drought, or heavy traffic. It does, however, green early in the spring and stay green almost through the winter.

Popular Cool Season Grasses

GrassCharacteristics
K31 Fescue
(Festuca arundinacea)
This grass is super tough. It's the grass often used in public parks and playing fields. Its long roots allow it to draw water from deep in the soil during any hot, dry period. This is the grass that will hold up to sunny lawn areas that are frequently trampled by kids, big dogs, dirt bikes, and back yard parties.
Fine Fescue
(Festuca rubra, Festuca glauca)
The fine fescues are perhaps the most cold tolerant of the lawn grasses and do well in the salty, frigid condition of maritime areas, a characteristic that's hard to find. Fine fescues are also some of the most tolerant of shade, poor soil and drought. They are often the best choice for planting in the shade of large trees.
Kentucky Blue Grass
(Poa pratensis)
If there were beauty pageants for turf grasses, there's no doubt Kentucky blue grass would pick up first place. Soft, thick, and a vibrant green with the bluish tint that gives it its name, this grass also spreads quickly, keeping your lawn looking full. But there's more than a pretty face to Kentucky blue grass: It's tough, making it a popular choice for athletic fields and other lawns that get lots of wear and tear.
Perennial Ryegrass
(Lolium perenne)
Another tough customer in the cool season grass family is the sun-loving perennial ryegrass. You'll find this grass seed in many turf mixes as it adds disease resistance, pest resistance, and durability to other varieties.
Annual Ryegrass
(Lolium multiflorum)

Quick-germinating, annual ryegrass is the short-lived cousin of perennial rye grass and is used to provide almost-instant green to bare spots in the lawn. Use it to overseed warm season grasses during the winter to provide color through the dormant seasons or temporary groundcover for the patches in your summer lawn waiting repair. Because it germinates quickly, annual rye is perfect for mixing with other grass seeds to hold them in place until they sprout.

When buying seed mixes, make sure you check the label for the percentage of each sort of grass included as well as the percentage of weeds and inert materials.

You can save grass seed season-to-season, but be aware its germination rate will fall with each passing year, as much as 20% a year after the first 18 months. Make sure you store the seed in a dry area protected from rodents and other pests and at a temperature between forty and fifty degrees.

2. Pay Attention to Your Mower Blade

For most of the lawn growing season, set your blade to cut the grass 3.5 to 4". This longer height shades at ground level and keeps weeds from sprouting. It also allows the grass to focus its energy underground, building up a strong root system, which makes your lawn more resistant to disease and drought.

In areas where you can expect snow cover, lower your blade for the last mow of the year. The shorter grass will help prevent snow mold from forming.

Keep your mower blade sharp, re-sharpening after every ten hours of use. A dull blade will tear rather than cut your grass, resulting in jagged edges that invite pests and diseases into your lawn.

3. Change Your Mowing Routine

Don't always mow in the same direction or pattern week to week. By changing both every time you mow, you'll keep ruts from forming and the grass from flattening on a set track.

Don't mow wet grass. It can damage your mower and cut your lawn unevenly.

Leave the clipping in the grass to compost, returning essential nutrients and disease-fighting microbes to the lawn's soil.

Follow these simple tips, and you'll end up with a beautiful and durable lawn--and the time and energy to enjoy it.

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White Dutch clover

Did you know that clover wasn’t always considered a lawn weed? Before herbicides were developed to kill it, white Dutch clover was an acceptable part of any lawn.

In fact, lawn seed mixes intentionally contained Dutch clover. That’s because clover roots bind nitrogen into root nodules that eventually contribute nutrition to the soil. The nitrogen can then help fertilize your grass.

Planting Dutch clover is becoming popular again. It's a durable groundcover, provides a pollen source for honey bees, and brings a charming, meadow-like feel to a lawn.


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