With the severe drought that we had last year a lot of lawns suffered and some may be in need of some serious renovation. If your needing to re-sod your yard or maybe you purchased a new home and have no lawn at all, you may be wondering which grass is the best for this area. In this post we will go over the most common types of grass used in Central Texas and some information about each of them. Which type you should use varies based on where your lawn is located, how much you can water, and how much shade there is. Due to the drought that we have been under it would be a smart idea to go with a lawn that doesn’t require a whole lot of water to keep healthy. It would not be a good idea to go with a cool season type turf such as Fescue or Kentucky Bluegrass due to their water needs and the fact they don’t tolerate the heat of the summer very well.
Best Types of Grass for Central Texas:
Bermudagrass– This is probably the best grass available when it comes to drought resistance since most variates can get by with watering once or twice a week. Part of it’s drought resistance can make it invasive since it constantly seeds itself but it has few problems with pest and disease. One issue to consider is that it requires full sun so if you do have a lot of shade in your yard it will not grow well.
St. Augustine– This is another popular grass in the area commonly referred to as “carpet grass”. While it can take a lot of work initially once you have well established growth it can be easy to care for. It does get more pest and disease issues than Bermudagrass but can grow in shade and full sun. Recommended for areas with lots of gardens and trees due to it’s shade tolerance and not being as invasive.
Zoysia– Zoysia is a great turf type for the area due to it’s excellent drought resistance. While it prefers full sun there are some hybrids that can do well in shade. Has some of the advantages of both the previous types of grasses but can get some disease and pest issues like St. Augustine. The biggest disadvantage to this grass would be price since it tends to be more expensive than Bermuda or St. Augustine. It is available as a seed and with some TLC will flourish
The types of grasses that grow well in Texas depend on the part of the state and the season of the year. With lawns, timing is everything. It is better to grow most grasses in direct sunlight than shade for a stronger root, but there are exceptions. Understand the watering, nitrogen, environmental and fertilizer requirements of your grass before seeding, sodding, plugging or sprigging. Does this Spark an idea?
Carpet grass is a warm season perennial that grows well in the Texas coastal areas. Carpet grass is dense and therefore needs plenty of wet and low-fertility land, which causes it to grow quickly. It does not do well in dry areas, salty marshes or in shade. Though it needs less to grow on, it is very particular about the kinds of conditions that will keep it alive.
Ryegrass is a fall and winter grass that holds up well year-round in most cases. It is used on golf courses, parks and home lawns, and is often mixed with bluegrass to cover sports fields in turf. There are two types of ryegrass, annual and perennial. The perennial is for year-round coverage, while the annual is seeded yearly and lives for only one season, during the winter.
The St. Augustine grass thrives in coastal areas where there is plenty of heat and little shade. It is a coarse-leaf grass that grows moderately fast but is easy to control. Since it is a sandy soil turf, it requires more nitrogen than grasses that grow well in clay soil. This grass is not grown by seeding, but by sodding or plugging.
The tall fescue grass of northern Texas requires plenty of shade and extra water during extreme drought and heat periods. It is called a “bunch-type” grass because it grows in a bunch from its crown and should not be mixed with bluegrass. Centipede grass, which came to America from China, is known for its natural resistance to weeds. This southern Texas grass is moderately shade-tolerant, and suffers under harsh, freezing conditions.
Buffalograss, Bermuda grass, Tifway, fine fescue and zoysia, along with prairie buffalo grass, the only grass native to Central Texas, are other grasses that may be found growing in the state. Compared to the many species of grasses that exist, Texas is limited in selections of grasses that will grow well.
1. Raise your mowing height!
Mow high in the fall. This creates a buffer zone that will help insulate the root system against cold injury or freeze damage.
2. Mowing Schedule Recommendations
Be sure to mow at least bi-weekly during the October and November months and once a month in December, January, and February to keep your lawn looking good. Make sure you keep your lawn free of leaves and trash and remember RAISE your mowing height to insulate the root system of your turf.
3. Use a winter fertilizer
Applying a winter fertilizer will encourage your turf to develop a stronger and healthier root system. Your lawn’s root system is still active during winter months even though color and growth will wane.
4. Water before cold spells!
If you run your sprinkler system before a cold spell arrives, this will keep the soil temperature higher adding extra protection for your turf from cold/freeze damage.
5. Check Sprinkler system Now
Check all sprinkler heads to ensure they are all retracting and functioning properly to give you good water coverage on your entire lawn. Be sure to set your watering schedule according to Winter recommendations for your turf.
6. St. Augustine Lawn
Inevitably, your St. Augustine lawn will develop a fungus called “brown patch”. This is a fleshy tissue disease and will usually not affect the stolons of the plant. That means that though it is an unsightly pest, it is usually not fatal to a healthy lawn, however … this condition does weaken your turf and make it more susceptible to cold/winter damage. To minimize the chances or effects of this disease, be sure to water during daylight hours in the fall & winter.
Soil Preparation Similar to Sowing Procedures
Sod should be planted on a well-prepared soil that is made ready in the same way as if you would drill the grass. The soil preparation should result in a soil which is fit for cultivation, smooth, free from weeds, tufts of grass, quack grass, rocks and other disturbing elements. It might show necessary to grub the area as if the soil structure is too compact. Plough, rotate or dig the area depending on the size of the area. Then you should cultivate the area with a harrow or a rake to level it totally.
The soil should not be to loose forcing it to slump. Packing the soil is therefore of great importance also because all irregularities in the soil will show also after the sod has been planted. When placing the sod next to paths etc., please remember to take into consideration the thickness of the sod (approx. 2 cm).
Irrigation Before Planting the Sod
Being very dry, the soil must be irrigated thoroughly about 24 hours before planting the sod. It is difficult to have the underlying soil moist after having planted the sod, and if not sufficiently moist, the growing layer will absorb all moisture from the sod. Do not water it the same day as the grass is delivered or you top layer will turn to mud.
Storing Sod in Shade and under Shelter
The sod is a perishable product. It will soon rotten when stored in hot temperatures i.e. more than 15 degrees C. For this reason you should plant the sod immediately upon receiving it. The pallets of sod to be used last, you must store in shade and under shelter to minimise drying and heating. If the sod roles look dry, you should give them a light shower.
Planting the Sod in Stagger
Your work will be easier if you start planting the roles from the longest straight borderline and then work your way out from there. If you plant the grass sods in stagger, the connections will not show significantly. The end cuttings can easily be formed with a spade or knife. A driveway could be established by placing plates atop on the already planted grass. Avoid traffic with heavy equipment on the grass right after planting.
Contact Between Soil and Grass Roots
The turf will easily establish its roots into the soil as long as there is a good contact between the sod and the soil. In this connection, a gentle rolling could be beneficial. Large heavy rollers must be avoided as they do more harm than good. You should roll the lawn immediately after having planted the grass and before irrigating the lawn for the first time.
Let the Grass Rest
Keep traffic away from the lawn for two to three weeks. The grass needs time to establish.
Irrigation is a Must
Generously irrigating is necessary to obtain a good result. You must water immediately after having planted the grass and rolled it. The grass and the soil underneath it must be kept moist continuously until the grass has fully established.
The amount of water to be used depends on the weather conditions. Be aware that in hot and windy weather the drying of the grass will proceed surprisingly fast. We recommend as a guideline to irrigate with 1″ – 2″ water twice a day in the beginning for two weeks, then gradually expand the span between the days concurrently with the establishment of the grass roots. Bear in mind that the soil must be kept moist in the total period until the grass has established.
Connections Filled with Topdressing
Having planted the sod, minor gaps etc. can be filled with a topdressing of 0–2 mm sand, preferably with more than 70% coarse sand or mould mixed with sand which is similar to the topsoil of the area. 4–5 mm of top-dressing is often sufficient. It is recommendable to use a drag net to level the layer and get the sand into the connections. This topdressing should be applied immediately after planting and with light equipment.
Mowing in 3–5 cm Height
You should mow the grass as usual. A cutting height of 3–5 cm is preferable. You should never cut more than 1/3 of the total grass height in one mowing.
Postpone Vertical Cutting
You should wait about two months for the grass to be well established before giving the lawn a vertical cutting. When well established the vertical cutting is done as usual when the grass is in good growth in April/May or August/September.
Guidelines to Avoid Problems
The turf does not establish its roots:
In 10 days the turf will establish new white roots. If not, you must check if the lawn needs to be irrigated. Turf laying in the shade will strike roots very slowly – perhaps not at all. For this reason, we do not recommend to plant turf on areas exposed to total shade.
Brown or grey-blue spots:
Fungus diseases can attack turf, however, in most of the cases the spots on recently planted turf is caused by lack of moisture.
A number of mushrooms will create fruit bodies (toadstools) in late summer where temperature and humidity conditions are suitable. If you find other mushrooms in the lawn, they should be identified in order to decide their toxicity.