Selecting a Grass

Selecting a Grass

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In theory many factors should be considered before selecting a grass. In practice the most important factors are frequently overlooked due to involvement with unfamiliar technicalities. To begin logically and simply, consider the following 6 criteria:

1. Climatic Adaptability

Changing weather patterns make drawing lines on a map difficult. A good approach is to observe older, established lawns in the area. As previously stated, new varieties and techniques are pushing the limits on what grasses will grow where. This pamphlet carries adequate information to enable you to determine which grasses will grow in your area. Ask yourself: Do you want the most beautiful lawn in town no matter how hard you have to work for it? Or do you prefer an attractive lawn, less demanding of your time and money?

The Bermudas produce the ultimate in turf, but they require the maximum in care. On the other hand, Centipede makes a good lawn with very little care. Yet Centipede will never equal the Bermudas in appearance, even if it is given as much care as the Bermudas require.

Grasses requiring much care are generally most unattractive if they are not getting that care. Be honest with yourself and consider how often you will be willing to fertilize, mow, and edge your lawn, and select your grass accordingly .

2. Shade

All grasses require a certain minimum of sunlight, but some perform much better under shade than others. All warm season grasses perform satisfactorily in full sun, and yet all of them (except the Bermudas) perform even better with a light canopy of shade such as that provided by Pine trees. (Pine trees permit entry of adequate light, but protect from frost and the bleaching, dehydrating actions of summer sun.)

Study your lawn area. If you have much shade or will have much shade in years to come, you can eliminate Bermuda grasses.

To have a good lawn, avoid establishing or keeping too many trees, large or small (especially where they will combine with another tree, your house or a neighbor's building), to permit entry of a reasonable amount of sunlight. On a new lot, removing all but the best tree specimens usually results in a better landscaping appearance.

Prune the lower limbs of large, heavy-foliage trees to permit entry of direct sunlight at some time of the day or plan to use groundcover or shade-tolerant plants there.

3. Drought Tolerance

For good performance all grasses require supplemental watering. At worst, provide a way to water. At best, put in an automatic, underground irrigation system. In most tests, Bermudas and Zoysias perform better than other grasses in drought conditions and require somewhat less supplemental watering. This becomes an important consideration where supplemental watering is impractical.

4. Salt Spray

The Zoysias excel in salt tolerance and should be given preference where sea spray wets a lawn. Zoysia generally doesn't perform well on excessively wet areas.

5. Fertility

The fertility level of your particular soil is of less importance than was once the case, because lawn fertilizers that will properly feed any grass are now available at moderate cost.

6. The Years to Come

Few sensible people would like the idea of getting stuck for life with a car that delivers only five miles per gallon of gas, just because it was cheap or easy to buy.

Yet, in effect, many people do just that with their lawns. Some grasses, such as common seeded Bermudas and Bahias, are cheap and easy to establish, but every year their frequent mowing requirement and high maintenance cost puts them in the class with a five-mile-per-gallon car.

They have absolutely no trade-in value and converting a poor lawn to a better grass usually costs more than it would have cost to establish a better grass initially.

Resist that temptation to give too much consideration to the initial cost. Nothing can wreck a budget quicker than something that will cost more to maintain next year than it cost to acquire this year! If it is not absolutely essential that you skimp on establishment cost, it is far better to buy a small quantity of a better grass, stretch it thin and allow more time for it to cover than to buy something that is cheap now, but costly later.

Remember:

Statistics show that good landscaping adds 15% or more to the value of a home. A good lawn alone contributes much of that and adds greatly to the living enjoyment.