A lush green turf on the yard is the pride and joy of every home owner. Proper turf care can completely transform the look of your home. However, many people think that maintaining a turf of their dreams is almost impossible. Well, we are here to tell you the exactly opposite! With a little bit of effort and right knowledge, taking care of your lawn can not only be easy, but very gratifying.
As is with most things, the more effort you put in, the better your turf will look. Taking time to understand your soil and your grass goes a long way in planning a proper maintenance schedule for that perfect turf. The more you know about the lawn, the better you will be at maintaining it. In this article, we will try to learn some basic things about turf care and pick on some tips to make taking care of that turf easy and fun.
Bermuda and Zoysia turf
The most common turf grass around Georgia is either bermuda or zoysia. Both these grasses are warm season turf grasses and grow quite rapidly in the warm months of the year and go into dormancy during the colder months. These grasses enjoy the warm weather of Georgia and are exceptionally resistant to drought conditions. Zoysia grass is comfortable in full sun to partial shade but bermuda lawns require more sunshine. If your lawn receives plenty of full sunlight, bermuda grass is a great option. However, if you have only partial sunshine, zoysia will be your best bet. That being said, both these require a regular maintenance including fertilization, weed control, proper irrigation and mowing.
Taking care of your Bermuda or Zoysia turf
Good quality soil is the most important component required for a healthy turf. Testing your soil is not that difficult and you can do it yourself using an inexpensive kit form your local garden supply store. Make sure to check the quality of your soil every few years to avoid any catastrophic incidents of botched up lawns. Both the bermuda and zoysia grasses grow the best in slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6-7. A regular soil testing will reveal if there is any need to improve the quality of soil or any adjustment of the pH is necessary.
Although testing soil is not a part of your day to day maintenance protocol, it is a crucial aspect of turf maintenance that needs to be kept in mind.
Mowing is perhaps the most common chore in the turf care regimen. Although you don’t need to be rocket scientist to get it done, a mistakes in mowing are more common than you would think. An incorrectly mowed turf is an invitation to many long lasting problems which are totally avoidable. Here are some mowing tips for your Bermuda or Zoysia grass turfs:
- The rule of thumb while mowing is never to remove more than 1/3rd of the leaf blade at any one time. Although both Bermuda and Zoysia are dense grasses, mowing too short often leads to opening of surface that can lead to a weed problem in the future.
- Always mow your Bermuda and Zoysia grass when the blades are dry. This will ensure a uniform cut as well as help in preventing the spread of diseases as well.
- Always keep in mind that close mowing will hamper deep root formation in both Bermuda and Zoysia grasses. The best length for both these grasses is around 1.5 to 2 inches.
- Both these grasses really help from mulching and hence, you can collect the clippings and mulch them.
- Another good tip is to alternate your mowing patterns on every mowing cycl
Watering is a very important part of turf care. It seems fairly simple and straightforward, but some mistakes homeowners make may hinder the turf to reach its full glorious potential. Some most important tips to consider if you are watering your grass are:
- It is always ideal to water infrequently and deeply. Frequent and shallow watering results in superficial roots and formation of thatch. As a rule of thumb, water about ½ to 1 inch so that the water penetrates to about 4-6 inches in the soil.
- Avoid over watering at all costs. Both Bermuda and Zoysia grasses are susceptible to fungal infections if they remain waterlogged.
- During the months of December to February, both Zoysia and Bermuda turfs do not need watering as they enter in a dormant phase.
Fertilizing your soil is essential to replenish the nutrients required for the grasses to grow. Testing your soil frequently will give you a fair idea about the nutrition level and help you plan the amount and type of fertilizers required. There are some general tips that you can follow while fertilizing your bermuda grass or zoysia grass lawns:
- The best time for fertilization is either in early spring or mid fall. For the spring fertilization, wait till you have mowed the lawn at least two times before application. For a fall application, choose early October. This fertilization can be skipped if your lawn looks healthy.
- Make sure that you are never fertilizing before a rain. There is high chance that the fertilizers will be washed away and contaminate the reservoirs.
- Choosing an organic fertilizer can be slightly more expensive as they have lower nutrient values, but they are chemical free and natural. Also, there is almost never a chance of over fertilizing with organic fertilizers.
- Always put in the right amount of fertilizer if you are using synthetic fertilizers. Choose the ones with a low phosphorous content for both Bermuda and Zoysia grass turfs.
Although both Bermuda and Zoysia grasses are exceptionally resistant to weeds, occasionally, some weeds to infiltrate in the turf, especially, if proper care is not taken. Weeds are an exceptionally large problem if your grass is not thick due to any reason. If you mow too close, or if your soil chemistry changes or if your soil runs low on nutrients, weeds can be a major problem. The problem of weeds should be given top priority as soon as you sight one in your lawn. They can take over your lawn very rapidly if not disposed off properly. Here are some tips you might want to keep handy while dealing with weeds:
- Make sure that there are no bald spots or low density spots on your turf. Fill the empty spots with seeds or plugs. In areas of low density, you can try overseeding to improve the density.
- Make sure that you eliminate the weeds as soon as you spot them before they seed. This is especially true in case of annual grass weeds such as bluegrass.
- As much as possible, avoid herbicides and try manual weeding. In case the weeding problems goes out of hand, take the help of professionals to apply herbicides.
Additional tips for Bermuda and Zoysia grasses:
- Scalping is a great method to improve the density of bermuda grass. Scalping refers to cutting your grass really low. If this process is done in mid March or early April, the bermuda grass will green up quicker. Doing this, the turf will be able to absorb more water and sunlight.
- If you have zoysia lawns, however, scalping in any form is extremely dangerous. Zoysia has a shallower root system and scalping can injure the grass and it will take a long time to grow back.
- Topdressing bermuda grass with sand is also a neat little trick, especially during the early growing season. This will help to level the turf and reduce thatch buildup and improve drainage as well.
Something to take away
Turf care is an essential ingredient in the recipe of a luxurious lawn. If you pay attention to your turf and follow small tips that we always try to provide you, your lawn will be healthy and in prime condition without any problems. We hope that you are enjoying our articles in this series and learning something new every time. Until the next time!