The Types of Grasses and Where They Grow
Colonial bent grass: This kind of grass is a dense and mat-forming turf. It grows rapidly and thrives in summer when Kentucky bluegrass and the fescues are rather dormant. It withstands close clipping, but suffers the disadvantage of starting late and stopping early. Its moisture and fertility needs are high, and it is susceptible to disease.
Creeping and velvet grasses: They form a densely matter lawn and are used primarily for putting greens. They require frequent mowings, and top dressings once a year.
Redtop and rye grasses: They germinate rapidly and are used either alone for temporary lawn effects or in mixtures to hold soil in place until slower grasses take hold. They do not stand up long under close clipping.
Meyer zoysia: This makes a dense turf, but it is a warm-weather grass that turns completely brown with the first frost and remains so until late spring.
Clover: This makes an early start in the spring. It will grow on poor soil and will help to supply the soil with nitrogen. It offers the disadvantage, however, of growing in patches with uneven results. Also, it stains clothing and is slippery in wet weather.
Bermuda: This is the most common and desirable grass in the South. Other creeping types used in that area are centipede blue couch grass and the Manila grasses. These are propagated better vegetatively than from seed.
Grass-seed mixtures are preferred to a single species, because mixtures produce satisfactory turf more quickly than do single species of grasses.
The nature of the soil upon which the turf is to be grown will have a lot to do with your choice of grasses. Kentucky bluegrass, for example, is a lime lover. Bent grasses and fescues tolerate moderate acidity; fescues give best results on sandy soils; redtop and meadow fescues prefer wet soils, while sheep fescues thrive in dry soils.
Immediately before any seed is sown, the soil must be raked and smoothed. The seed can be sown either by hand or with a seed spreader, and preferably on a calm day so that the seed will not blow about. After the seed has been sown, the ground should be rolled to embed the seed in the soil. Where erosion presents a possible problem, slopes can be covered with hay, straw, or burlap (with strips staked down), to keep the seed from washing away before it can take root.
Watering and Mowing
The seeding should be followed by a fine spray of water. The seeded area should thereafter be watered twice a day. As the seed germinates, the amount of water supplied at one time may be increased and the frequency of application reduced.
The grass must be mowed often, but not too closely; it must be well fed and leaves must be raked off. Later, it may need repairing, reseeding, and rebuilding. Certain bugs may appear, such as beetles, chinch bugs, sod webworms, and ants. Lethal doses of chemicals, such as Chlordane, DDT, or lead arsenate, will be necessary to rid the lawn of these pests. If and when weeds make their appearance, there are potent weed killers available for dealing with them, or they can be pulled by hand with the aid of a weeder. Brown patches of fungi are treated with fungicide.
For immediate lawn effects in any season, for steeply sloping areas subject to erosion, or for edges of drives and walks, you may employ sodding. The main objections to sodding are cost, the difficulty in securing sod, and the possibility of its heaving in winter.
Sod is to cut into pieces of convenient length, width, and thickness, and the pieces are put in place without crowding to ensure an even surface. It is best to prepare the sod the afternoon of the day before it is to be laid. Both the ground and the bottom of each piece of sod are moistened, and the sod is laid. The junctions of the pieces are filled with fine soil and the sod is beaten down gently with a sod pounder.