Fine textured, light green to blue green, long-lived perennial, cool season turf grass, often used for putting greens. Growth will slow during mid-summer heat stress. Tolerates partial shade but prefers full sun. Soil should be fine-textured and non-compacted with an optimum pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Though beautiful, this is a high maintenace grass, requiring frequent mowing with a reel mower. ‘Emerald’, ‘Penncross’, and ‘Seaside’ can be grown from seed, estabished during cooler months. ‘Congressional’ and ‘Old Orchard’ established by sod or sprigs anytime.
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Size: Height: 0 ft. to 3 ft.
Width: 0 ft. to 2.5 ft.
Plant Category: ground covers, perennials, turf grasses,
Plant Characteristics: seed start, spreading,
Foliage Characteristics: evergreen,
Bloomtime Range: not applicable
USDA Hardiness Zone: 3 to 7
AHS Heat Zone: Not defined for this plant
Light Range: Sun to Full Sun
pH Range: 5.5 to 6.5
Soil Range: Mostly Sand to Clay Loam
Water Range: Normal to Moist
FertilizingTools : Aerators
Most lawns benefit from being aerated once a year, especially if you know your soil is compacted. Aeration is a mechanical means of loosening compacted soil by punching or pulling plugs of soil from the ground. Aeration increases air, water and nutrients to plant roots. If you were able to view a cross section of turf several weeks after aeration, you would see the holes filled with little white roots. Two types of aerators are:
- Spike Aerator: star-shaped or nail-like spikes which punch holes in the ground.
- Hollow-tined or Plug Aerator: penetrates turf deeply, removing plugs of soil or sod. The plugs should be allowed to dry on top of the turf. Break up the plugs by dragging a mat or piece of lathe across the turf. The soil from the plugs topdresses the turf, returning micronutirents back to the turf. These micronutrients will help to breakdown any thatch layers in the turf. Aerators are typically used in the spring or late summer/fall.
Tools : Spreaders
Spreaders are necessary for the accurate and even distribution of fertilizers, grass seed, and other materials. Push spreaders (cyclone or drop) have a flow gadge that is set per instructions on product label to ensure proper rate of distribution.
How-to : Fertilize Lawn
Now is the time to fertilize the lawn.
LightConditions : Full Sun
Full Sun is defined as exposure to more than 6 hours of continuous, direct sun per day.
WateringHow-to : Watering Lawns
Lawns require more water per square foot than any other garden plant. People use a high percentage of their household water budget on lawns, and generally apply more water than they actually need. In this day of water shortages, steps people might consider include: minimizing the lawn size that fits your needs, planting grass types that are best suited for your environment and automating a sprinkler system to apply just enough water and no more.
Select your seed to minimize supplemental watering. Certain bermudas, bluegrass, ryegrass, fine textured fescues and bentgrass varieties can require higher amounts of water, while tall fescues, common bermuda and buffalo grass are more drought tolerant.
In general a lawn needs to be watered if the annual rainfall is below 40 inches per year. Additionally in droughty summer periods, if it hasn't rained at least one inch within the past 7 to 10 days, you need to water your lawn. Some people make the mistake of applying frequent, light sprinklings. This does not benefit the lawn; rather it wastes water and encourages annual weeds. Apply enough water to work its way down into the root zone (the top 12 inches of soil). Then wait to re-water only when rainfall is insufficient. The bottom line is to water slowly, infrequently and deeply.
Conditions : Normal Watering for Outdoor Plants
Normal watering means that soil should be kept evenly moist and watered regularly, as conditions require. Most plants like 1 inch of water a week during the growing season, but take care not to over water. The first two years after a plant is installed, regular watering is important for establishment. The first year is critical. It is better to water once a week and water deeply, than to water frequently for a few minutes.
PlantingTools : Garden Rollers
Garden Rollers are metal or plastic drums that are pulled by hand or behind a garden tractor to firm and level soil once final grade has been established. Most rollers can be filled with water to make the drum heavier. It is common to roll a newly sodded lawn to ensure root to soil contact.
Tools : Rakes
A good rakeis an essential part of any gardener's tool collection. Here are 4 common rakes:
- Spring-tined Lawn Rake: Used for clearing dead grass, debris and small stones, it has a long, flexible head with rounded tines. The spring-tined rake is also good for raking leaves.
- Flat-Tined Lawn Rake: A great leaf rake, this is also great for raking over small, delicate plants while minimizing damage.
- Bow Rake: A must for leveling planting beds, areas to be sodded or removing small stones.
- Scarifying Rake: Similar to the bow rake, the pronounced teeth on this rake cut deeply into soil or thatch. Because this rake can be cumbersome and tiring, models with wheels may be preferable.
How-to : Lawn Soil Preparation
Soil should provide a good rooting environment that supplies adequate moisture, air, and nutrients. The new lawn site should first be worked to insure uniform drainage and water penetration. Remove old sod or existing weeds, which can prevent new seeds from rooting properly. This can be done by hand or with a nonselective herbicide that will kill roots too. Add limestone if the pH of your soil is too low (6.0 or lower); consult your garden center for specific rates to properly adjust pH. Also add a starter fertilizer, which is high in phosphorus (important for new root growth). Organic matter in the form of peat moss or rotted compost may be added at a rate of 1 cubic yard per 1000 sq. feet area . Rake all these materials together, smooth, then firm the seedbed with a roller prior to seeding. Finally soak the seeding area and keep it moist until you are ready to seed.
How-to : Lawn Seed Selection
When planning a lawn consider your climate and the use the lawn will get. Some species do not grow well when subjected to excess foot traffic, others form a denser mat which resists wear.
Grass seed are characterized according to temperature. Cool season grasses are best suited to the northern half of the United States, while warm season grasses are best for the southern half of the US. Cool season grasses, generally grown from seed, withstand cold winters, but suffer in hot, dry summer conditions and should not be mowed too closely. They are usually established during their active growing season, the cooler months.
Warm season grasses, can be seeded, grown from plugs (small circles of turf), sprigs (stolons or rhizomes) or sodded, and are more heat, drought and wear tolerant than cool season grasses. They also can be mowed more closely and will lose color when temperatures creep below 50 degrees F. Warm season grasses are usually established during their growing season, the warmer months. Sod can be layed any time of year.
Instead of a single type of seed, it may be preferable to go with a mixture of different types of seed. While a single type of seed will produce a lawn which looks more uniform, this lawn will be more susceptible to disease and other damage resulting in loss of the lawn. A mixture of seed will provide you with some insurance as a population of different grass types will be better able to survive any adversity.
Warm Season Grasses include: Common Bermuda, Hybrid Bermudas, Centepede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Buffalo Grass, Bahaia. Cool Season Grasses include: Fescues, Perennial Bluegrass, Rye, Bentgrass.
How-to : Locating a Lawn
Lawns are the welcome-mat of the American suburban homestead. Many people take pride in showcasing their house with a thick, green, well maintained lawn. However a lush lawn doesn't just happen. Proper planning and maintenance is needed to get good results. When choosing a lawn site, remember more sun, the better. Red Fescue is probably the most shade tolerant grass, but even it does not take full shade well. Opt for ground covers in shade or beneath dense shade trees. Do not establish a lawn over exposed surface roots of trees or on slopes that would be dangerous to mow. This next step is to decide which type of grass is best suited to your area.
How-to : Laying Sod
Sod, is a ready-made lawn that was grown on a sod farm and harvested to be transplanted elsewhere. It is more expensive than seeding but it saves significant time compared to seeding. It is also useful on slopes or areas where erosion is a problem. Sod is essentially mature top growth, roots, and only a minimal amount of soil. When laying sod, first prepare the soil as you would when seeding. Then lay the rolls out on the bed and stagger the seams where strips end, pushing edges together tightly. If sodding on a slope, you may want to secure sod to ground with long pins or nails, which should be removed once roots have established. Keep well watered until the roots become established.
How-to : Sow Seed
Now is the preferred time to sow seed.
ProblemsFungi : Rusts
Most rusts are host specific and overwinter on leaves, stems and spent flower debris. Rust often appears as small, bright orange, yellow, or brown pustules on the underside of leaves. If touched, it will leave a colored spot of spores on the finger. Caused by fungi and spread by splashing water or rain, rust is worse when weather is moist.
Prevention and Control: Plant resistant varieties and provide maximum air circulation. Clean up all debris, especially around plants that have had a problem. Do not water from overhead and water only during the day so that plants will have enough time to dry before night. Apply a fungicide labeled for rust on your plant.
Fungi : Powdery Mildew
Powdery Mildew is usually found on plants that do not have enough air circulation or adequate light. Problems are worse where nights are cool and days are warm and humid. The powdery white or gray fungus is usually found on the upper surface of leaves or fruit. Leaves will often turn yellow or brown, curl up, and drop off. New foliage emerges crinkled and distorted. Fruit will be dwarfed and often drops early.
Prevention and Control: Plant resistant varieties and space plants properly so they receive adequate light and air circulation. Always water from below, keeping water off the foliage. This is paramount for roses. Go easy on the nitrogen fertilizer. Apply fungicides according to label directions before problem becomes severe and follow directions exactly, not missing any required treatments. Sanitation is a must - clean up and remove all leaves, flowers, or debris in the fall and destroy.
MiscellaneousGlossary : Evergreen
Evergreen refers to plants that hold onto their leaves or needles for more than one growing season, shedding them over time. Some plants such as live oaks are evergreen, but commonly shed the majority of their older leaves around the end of January.
Glossary : Grass
Grass: A member of the Poaceae family, usually having round, hollow or solid stems with regularly spaced nodes. Seed are produced on spikes in the form of a raceme, panicle, or spike.
Glossary : Perennial
Perennial: traditionally a non-woody plant that lives for two or more growing seasons.