Choosing the right turfgrass for your lawn will drastically affect your landscape

Published 3:06 pm Sunday, April 1, 2007

Choosing the “right” turfgrass for your lawn is a huge decision that will drastically affect your landscape for years to come. Many think that “grass is grass” and that “one is just as good as another.” I was one of those people too!…until I married a turfgrass lover. On the contrary, the proper selection of turf can be one of the biggest assets to your landscape.

Most of us have this tough decision already made for us. When we move into a house, we inherit the lawn.

Depending on the previous owner’s love of grass, the lawn can range from immaculate to desolate.

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Most of the time, in an established lawn situation, we simply choose to make the best of what we have. Many Miss-Lou lawns will have any number of grasses in one lawn.

This is what I like to call a Heinz 57 yard.

Though many turf connoisseurs prefer the purity of a turfgrass monoculture (a big word for having only one kind of grass), Heinz 57 lawns are often very beautiful and perform quite well, because the most adaptable varieties for your site have survived over the years.

If you are building a new house, inherit a dirt lawn, or want to renovate your whole yard, then you need to make the tough decision on what species of grass to plant.

Make this decision carefully! Not only will turf be a big investment, but it will also likely be a part of your landscape for generations.

Ask yourself some questions before you spend the time and money to establish a new lawn or renovate an older one.

Be realistic with your answers to questions such as; how much money do I want to spend? How much lawn maintenance do I like to do? Is my yard sunny or shady? Is the soil wet or dry, alkaline or acidic? Do I get a lot of traffic in the yard?

Here in the Miss-Lou, our choices for permanent turfgrasses are narrowed to the warm-season varieties due to our oppressively hot summers.

An interesting fact is that none of the grasses that we commonly use as turfs here in the Miss-Lou is native to the Americas.

These types of grasses are, not surprisingly, native to areas like Southeast Asia, the West Indies, and Africa.

The warm season grasses most commonly used as turfgrasses here in the Miss-Lou are bermudagrass, centipedegrass, St. Augustine grass, zoysia grass, carpetgrass, and sometimes bahia grass.

Each of these grasses has definite uses here in the Miss-Lou. However, understanding the growth habits and characteristics of each will help you make the best choice for your site.

Keep in mind that all turfgrasses need full sun to grow lush and green. Some simply tolerate more shade than others do. Bermudagrass is the least shade tolerant.

For lots more information regarding turfgrass selection, installation and maintenance, contact someone at your local county extension office.

They will be happy to provide you with lots of great information regarding lawns.

Local master gardeners are another excellent source for detailed tips about grass growth and much more.

Traci Maier writes a weekly gardening column for The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at