You’ve got your surf ‘n’ turf, and your turf ‘n’ grass. The former is easier to understand than the latter.
Because … turf can be:
- Short grass.
- Moss. Who knew?
- ‘Stepables,’ which you really can’t walk on.
- And finally, the dreaded mixture of all of the above.
We are mostly interested in grass, but even there – as with all things botanical – you can categorize grass many ways:
- Growing season: Warm vs. Cool
- Spreading method: Tillers, rhizomes and stolons.
Grass is better than not-grass; green is better than not-green.
The very best weed killer ever is grass.
- You need the seed head to identify grass.
- Grass needs four things to grow:
- Sunlight – Six hours of direct sun.
- Neutral pH; 6.2-6.3 is best.
- Reasonable fertility.
- The absence of any of the above can kill your grass. So … assess your yard:
- Do you have trees? Grass does not grow well under trees; get over it.
- Soil. Get a soil test done.
- Sunlight. (See trees and think shade, like shadows from buildings.
- Environmentally sensitive sites.
- Go forth and choose your grass.
- Picking the right grass – Remember, put the right plant in the right place – is not easy. Generally, we divide the country into two zones, depending on where “warm” and “cool” grasses grow best. Virginia is in the “transition” area between the two, and quite frankly, neither type grows best here. (Sigh.)
- Cool grasses – rye, fescue, bluegrass, bentgrass – do best in soil temperatures of 50-75 degrees. Soil temps, NOT air temps.
- Warm grasses – zoysia, bermuda, centipede – need soil temperatures of 85-90 degrees. Thus, they die out (get brown) during the winter, but they come back. Given climate change, we in Virginia should consider planting warm grasses.
- Don’t try to grow both at the same time.
- Oh, the things I could tell you about the types of grass seed available (see photo) and buying the right grass for your yard.
- Don’t believe the salesman. Read the label.
- Check the date. Newer is better.
- Check the varieties in the seed mix. (All seed mixes are, well, mixes.)
- Check the germination rate. A bigger percentage is better.
- It pays to spend more.
- Check the percentage of weeds in the mix. (Oh, yes, seed mixes contain weeds, despite everyone’s best efforts to limit them.)
- Every grass has its favorite height, but in general, mowing shorter than three inches stunts root growth, and you want those roots to grow.
There is no one best grass seed.
Read the label.
- Blades – Leaves.
- Colm – Stem.
- Florets – Flowers.
- Inflorescence – A cluster of flowers and how they are arranged on the stem.
Read the label.
Find the grasshopper. NO turf in this photo. It’s just pretty.
Read the frickin’ label.