Lawn & Garden Tips

Establishing a new lawn is hard work, and often expensive. For best results, begin with a soil test. Then decide whether you want to plant a cool-season or a warm-season grass, and follow the recommended guidelines for that grass type to grow a successful lawn.
Establishing the New Lawn
Begin with a Soil Test
    The most common fertility problem found in lawns across North Carolina is low soil pH (acidic soil).

    The only solution for low pH is to apply agricultural grade limestone. Lime can be applied to the lawn surface at any time of the year, and it will not harm the grass.

    Best results will be achieved if the recommended lime and fertilizer are thoroughly mixed into the soil prior to planting.

Distribute the seed evenly

    One way to do this is to apply half the seed in one direction and then turn at a right angle and apply the remaining seed over the same area. The planting area should be smooth and at your desired level. 

Lightly cover the seed by raking

    Good seed-to-soil contact is critical for adequate germination.

Cover the area with straw

    One or two bales of straw per 1000 square feet will help keep moisture in the soil. After seeds germinate, do not attempt to remove the straw. 
Keep the top half inch of the soil moist
    Until the seeds germinate and emerge, it is necessary to keep the top half inch of the soil moist. This may require watering every day. 
Maintain Your Lawn
    After the grass comes up reduce the watering but maintain adequate moisture in the top six inches of soil. Begin mowing the grass as soon as it is high enough to be mowed.

    Do not remove more than one third of the top growth in a single cutting.

    Do not cut cool-season grasses lower than three inches.

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Cool Season Grass Tips
Cool-season grasses are those grasses that grow primarily during the spring and fall of the year. These grasses become dormant during the hottest portion of the summer and during the coldest part of the winter. Cool-season grasses generally maintain some green color year around except under extreme heat and cold. Included in the category of cool-season grasses are tall fescue, bluegrass, turf type fescue, perennial ryegrass and mixtures of any of these grasses.

In the western region of North Carolina, bluegrass, bluegrass-fescue mixtures or tall fescue are the most common cool-season grasses. In the piedmont, bluegrass-fescue blends or tall fescue are the dominate cool-season varieties. Tall fescue is the only cool-season grass that should be considered as a permanent lawn for eastern North Carolina.

Plant a Mixture of grasses

    Mixtures of grasses are more adaptable to varying growing conditions such as shade, soil moisture and temperature. Planting a mixture of grasses also increases the chance of survival from turf diseases since mixtures have varying levels of resistance to different diseases.
Seeding rates
    Seeding rates of bluegrass are 1.5 to 2.0 pounds per 1000 square feet. Fescue-bluegrass blends and fescue blends should be seeded at a rate of 6.0 pounds per 1000 square feet. 
Best Time to Seed
    Cool-season grasses are best seeded in North Carolina from mid-August to mid-October, depending on the location in the state. Seeding in the spring is generally not satisfactory since young seedlings do not have enough time to develop a root system capable of providing needed moisture before hot, dry summer weather arrives. If you must seed in the spring, you may want to consider a temporary cover, such as annual ryegrass, until the fall. Another option would be to seed the cool-season grass with the intent of coming back in the fall and overseeding the areas that do not survive.

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Warm Season Grass Tips
Warm-season grasses are green in the summer and become brown and dormant in the winter. This group includes common and hybrid bermuda, centipede, zoysia and St. Augustine. Warm-season grasses are adapted to the sandy soils of the North Carolina coastal plain and most of the piedmont. Warm-season grasses tolerate the high temperatures and summer droughts in North Carolina better than cool-season grasses

Establishing Warm Season Grasses
    Warm-season grasses can be established with sprigs, sod or by planting seed.

    Space planting is the planting of separate sprigs at regular intervals. The closer the planting, the more sprigs needed and the faster the coverage. Sprigs should be set 2 inches deep with a portion of the sprig extending above the soil surface. 

    Broadcasting involves spreading a larger quantity of sprigs over the soil surface and then pressing the sprigs into the upper 1 inch of soil by hand or mechanically. 

Best Time to Plant
    March through July is the best time to plant sprigs or lay sod.March through September is the best time to plant seed.Roots of warm-season grasses must have enough time to become established before the weather turns cool.
Seeding Rates
    Seeding rates vary from 0.25 to 2.0 pounds per 1000 square feet.
Maintaining Warm Season Grasses
    Warm-season grasses can develop a thatch layer. When the thatch layer is half an inch thick, the lawn should be dethatched or raked. If the lawn becomes compacted, the soil can be aerated in the spring with a device that cuts and removes soil cores. 

    Begin mowing the grass as soon as it is tall enough to be cut. A reel mower is preferred for cutting zoysia, hybrid bermuda and centipede. The suggested cutting height is 1 inch. It is not necessary to collect the clippings unless the amount is excessive and may smother the grass.

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Lawn & Garden Tips


Garden Tips