Caring for your lawn begins with knowing your turf type

One of the first things you need to know in order to have the yard-of-the-month lawn we all crave is the type of turf you have. There are three main turf types common to the mid-south: Bermuda, Zoysia and Fescue.

Some other turf types found in the mid-south include St. Augustine and Centipede. These turf types are more commonly found along the southern Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Occasionally, ryegrasses are utilized in specific situation to provide winter color or coverage.

Each grass thrives in a particular set of conditions. By knowing the type of grass you have, we can care for it properly. Weed control and prevention, fertility needs, irrigation practices, insect and disease preventions vary between types and even among cultivars of the same species.

Bermuda

Bermuda is a warm season grass perfect for lawns, sports turf or recreation areas. It is drought-tolerant and is used to prevent erosion.

Bermuda makes for strong, wear resistant turf that recovers well from environmental stresses. It performs well in a wide range of soil acidity, even at low fertility levels.

Bermuda is an incredibly hardy turf, as long as it gets enough sunlight. Bermuda turf needs full sun to minimal shade for 5+ hours per day. Bermuda will not grow if it does not receive enough sunlight.

During the growing season in the mid-south, Bermuda lawns need about 1 inch of rainfall or irrigation equivalent per week. During peak growth period or extreme heat, more irrigation may be necessary. Irrigation is rarely needed when Bermuda is dormant.

If you have an established Bermuda lawn that isn’t growing well, you may want to consider these issues:

Amount of sunlight: this is often the key reason for thin or weak Bermuda. If sunlight is your issue, you may want to consider trimming trees or changing turf types.

Irrigation: Bermuda is hardy, but too much or too little moisture will cause stress. If moisture is your issue, check for improper drainage so you don’t have standing water or large soggy areas and consider an irrigation system to keep water evenly applied.

Soil Conditions: Bermuda can grow in a wide range of soil conditions (acidity, organic matter etc.), but some lawns in the mid-south fall outside of the range even Bermuda can handle. If you suspect soil issues, contact our office for a soil analysis.

Fescue

Fescue is a cool season grass typically found in shaded areas of the mid-south. Fescue is a bunching grass that forms clumps as it matures. Fescues are used for residential lawns, pasture or wildlife reclamation areas, often mixed with Bermuda or other warm-season grasses. Fescue grows well in the spring and fall but homeowners often find it difficult to establish a satisfactory fescue-only lawn. The most common factors causing poor results are compacted clay soils, improper mowing and watering, planting or re-seeding at the wrong time of year, over fertilization or excessive herbicide use.

Fescue requires minimal direct sunlight, so establishing fescue in areas that are too shady to support Bermuda or Zoysia is quite common. Typically, the areas are tilled or aerated and seeded in early fall (September) or late winter (March). Killing off other grasses may not be needed if the existing turf is thin. As the new fescue grows, the old turf dies due to the competition for sunlight and moisture from the new fescue seedlings. Fescue is not considered invasive and is relatively easy to control with systemic or contact herbicide.

Fescue should be seeded in areas receiving 3+ hours of low to medium intensity filtered light with little to no high intensity direct sunlight.

Fescues require specific watering based on turf growth, rainfall etc. An irrigation system may be required to properly maintain watering in fescue areas. Extended drought periods frequently kill fescue turf. Irrigation may need to occur morning and evening at short intervals to maintain surface moisture and facilitate cooling during summer months. Spring and Fall periods of high growth may require close monitoring to determine exact needs for specific lawn areas.

Zoysia

Zoysia is a warm-season turf that thrives in full sun and partially shaded areas. Zoysia grasses typically need 4+ hours of sunlight, although some varieties thrive in low intensity, filtered sunlight areas or areas with as little as 3 hours of light per day. It makes an excellent, thick turf and is wear resistant and drought tolerant. Zoysia is considered an upgrade or more desirable grass. It has made its mark in many smaller, more heavily landscaped urban and suburban lawns. Numerous Zoysia varieties are available, most are established from sod or springs. Some seeded varieties are available, although initiating a Zoysia lawn from seed is often difficult due to the long germination time and the difficulty of caring for the fragile seedlings until they mature and spread to form turf. Zoysia spreads by stolons (above ground runners) and rhizomes (underground runners).

If you are interested in changing turf types, Zoysia can be killed by systemic herbicides, though it usually requires several applications to ensure all above and below ground plant parts are killed. Once killed, the areas can be tilled and seeded or sodded with a different cultivar of Zoysia or a different turfgrass species. Zoysia is not considered invasive, though it does spread.

Zoysia may be susceptible to insect and disease issues. A properly maintained Zoysia lawn should be closely monitored for signs of stress and a preventative insecticide and fungicide application is often suggested. Irrigation should be timed after sunrise. Extended periods of wet leaves and soil can cause or enhance disease development.

For more information on turf types, or to address insect or disease issues in your lawn, please contact our office at ContactUs@PersonalLawnCare.com or (901) 829-4200