When we start getting those real sunny and warm days, many folks will start thinking about working in their landscape. One main ingredient or piece to the beautiful landscape puzzle is your lawn grass.
Many folks have asked me on which is the best grass for years, but that is one where a homeowner needs to think about what is important for them in a grass when making that decision. Today, I will be sharing information from a great UGA publication by Dr. Gil Landry, UGA Extension Agronomist on lawns in Georgia.
This first and maybe the most important key in my opinion is selecting the right grass for your area and trying to establish the right time of year for that grass. For example, you can purchase fescue seed at most times of the year, but that grass is better if planted in September and October. A spring planting or a summer planting of fescue can leave you in a situation where you will be replanting.
Fescue is a cool season grass that needs time to get a good root system established before the heat of summer. Think about grasses that are adapted for our area of NW Georgia and look at the qualities of those grasses and pick one that fits your needs. Basically you have cool season or warm season grasses. You can probably take it from the two categories, but cool season grasses grow best during the months that stay between 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit for highs while the warm season grasses do better in months when the temperature range for high temperatures are between 80-95 degrees.
The cool season grasses can get damaged or go dormant during the hot summers while the warm season grasses such as Bermuda will go brown and dormant in the winter, but should grow well in summer.
Over the years, I have found that some clients just want something growing in their lawn while others want a show place lawn. Some want something that may stay green most of the year while others do not mind looking at a brown and dormant Bermuda or Zoysia lawn in December.
One thought to consider when selecting a grass may be based on drought tolerance. There is great new technology on our grasses all the time, but as you may guess the warm seasons are going to be better when it comes to those drought times.
Bermuda, zoysia and centipede would probably be one, two and three on drought tolerance while our cool season fescue would be on the bottom when taking summer heat into consideration. Plus, if we do have a drought, you may have to supplement irrigation so having a grass that can handle drought better may be important to you. Be mindful that even bermuda will need moisture in drought to stay productive.
Whether you are starting a brand new lawn or have a ten year old grass, soil sampling is important. I would suggest taking soil samples every two to three years in order to check the pH of the soil and to see if fertilization recommendations have changed.
I know some folks probably never have fertilized or limed their lawn in years, but at some point that may catch up with you. Lime is beneficial in keeping your soil pH in a proper zone or reading. If your soil pH gets too low, the grass will get in a situation where it cannot take up needed nutrients even if you are fertilizing. If you never take a soil test, how are you going to know if you are putting out the right fertilizer or even putting out the proper amount.
You can send a soil sample to our UGA Soil Test Lab for $9. Our office can tell you how to take a proper sample and get the sample processed and mailed off for you. If you are thinking about re-establishing a warm season grass lawn, keep in mind that the ideal time to get items like bermuda, zoysia or centipede established is starting in late May till late June into July. For more information contact Gordon County Extension at 706-629-8685 or firstname.lastname@example.org.