Grasses


The Right Lawn

Most of have one.  A lawn.  A yard. What we really have is turfgrass.  And, they come in many flavors.  Here’s a quick reference about what is generally available:

Saint Augustine:  Most popular are Floratam, Palmetto and Bitter Blue.  Up thru the 1970’s Bitter Blue was most popular but became susceptible to chinch bug and other problems.  Floratam has been the go-to sod since then.  In recent years Palmetto was developed as a great sod for areas of partial sun to full shade.  Finally, with Palmetto there’s a grass we can use under that big shade tree.

Bermuda:  You golfers know about this one.  It often surrounds you on the course.  Used for sports fields and a host of recreational applications, it’s tuff, durable and lasting.  It comes in many varieties best known to professionals who install it in the above applications.

Bahia:  This comes in two main categories.  Argentine Bahia is dark green, ok for lawns, spreads by runners and is insect and disease resistant.  Pensacola Bahia is best as a pasture grass.  It has excellent stress tolerance, produces seed heads for reproduction and is seen along roadways where it survives without supplemental irrigation.  It can go from brown to green after one rain shower.  Not exactly the turfgrass of your dreams for your beautiful residence.

Centipede:  A low grower ok for lawn applications, but not readily available like the St. Augustine varieties.

Zoysia:  There are several licensed varieties available in southeast Florida.  Empire is the most popular.  You’ll see this grass used extensively in Palm Beach and other communities where it gets constant professional care.  Usually and best mowed with a reel type mower, it does not survive without constant attention, precise mowing and perfect irrigation and fertilization.  The best Zoysia lawns have been tended by the same professionals for many years.  If you must have Zoysia be prepared to spend lots of money to keep it beautiful.

So, start deciding what you want to do.  Look long and hard before installing hardscapes or artificial turf as a lawn replacement.  These surfaces can heat up to the point of burning people and pets, and offer none of the oxygen-producing and pollutant-cleansing benefits of grass.  And they require water to clean them and remove pet waste.

Planting the right turfgrass.  Hundreds of varieties of turfgrass exist.  Some are good for drought resistance.  Read about those above.  As you begin to learn to maintain your lawn, remember that irrigation is important for most grasses.  Overwatering can bring weeds and diseases.  Also, if you water too much the grass actually gets lazy, not having to grow downward for water.  You want the roots to go deeper to get water.  As a result of having to work harder, it will do a better job of sequestering carbon and releasing oxygen.

Water Wisely.  Only irrigate when necessary, like when your Saint Augusting leaves begin to fold at the center vein.  Automatic systems, even with rain sensors, need to be monitored and overridden to insure against over watering.

Mix native plants with adaptive plants and grasses.  We live in cities and suburbs where we incorporate landscapes with concrete, asphalt, people and traffic.  A mix of natives and drought-resistant adaptive species can survive these conditions.

Evolve your yard.  Incorporate pollinator plants for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Plant to capture water that may run off hard surfaces like roof, patios, walkways, driveways, etc.

How you maintain your yard will impact all the inhabitants out there.  Insects (many beneficial), worms and spiders provide food for birds and small mammals like squirrels.  Think of them as you create and maintain your yard.  Provide bird feeders, water facilities and nests whenever possible.

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