As temperatures rise and our water-logged soils eventually dry, many of us will be out on our lawns correcting bare or damaged areas created over the winter months. I receive several dozen requests each spring for information on selecting the best turf species to correct such problems.
The first step in fixing these problems is to assess what has caused the problem to occur. Whether it is drainage, soil pH or fertility, traffic, heavy shade, etc. these need to be corrected before you can expect any new turf to survive.
For example, we just came back from a lawn and garden show on the Gulf Coast where we provided free soil pH testing. It was astonishing how many lawn soils were below 5.0. You just can’t grow healthy turf at levels this low.
The next step then would be to select a turf that is right for the problem area and knowing that the turf species adaptable to your area?
It always amazes me to walk through the garden center sections of large chain stores and see what is being offered for purchase to establish or repair Southern lawns. Many of the seed on the shelves are just not suitable for permanent Mississippi lawns. Unless you live in the extreme northern counties, most cool-season turf species (ryegrass, bluegrass, and many fescues) will be poor permanent lawn choices, The heat of summer will be their demise and they should not be planted even as temporary lawns once our warm season turf species begin to green-up.
If seeding is your only option, then centipede, Bermudagrass, carpetgrass, zoysia, and Bahia are your warm-season choices. St. Augustine, the species most tolerant to shade, and the above mentioned warm season species could also be established vegetatively.
To better understand the advantages and disadvantages of these different warm-season turf species and how to best establish them obtain a copy of Extension Publication #1322 “Establish and Manage Your Home Lawn” from your local Extension office or from the Lawn area of msucares.com.
Published February 28, 2005
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org