Turf Grass 101

While I’m all about replacing a high maintenance lawn with more carefree plantings, I believe there is a place for turf grass in the garden. I like to use grass for paths, as a green divider between flower beds and it’s nice to have a small patch for outdoor entertaining or just lazing around watching the clouds roll by. Small scale lawns are easy to keep happy and healthy without making a big impact on the environment as long as you choose the right grass type, mow correctly, water and fertilize.

For starters, you want to make sure you are growing the right grass for your area. Like any other plant, you have to choose a variety that will work for your zone.

Close up of zoysia grass

Turf grass is divided into two basic categories – cool or warm season. Cool season grasses do better in climates with mild summers and cold winters. Warm season grasses do best with hot summers and mild winters.

Regardless of whether the type of grass you select is cool or warm season, another thing to consider is how much sun your lawn gets. Most varieties require full to partial sun, but there are a few that will tolerate shade. Foot traffic should be taken into account as well; some grasses are more delicate than others.

To get your lawn going, you will either want to seed or sod. Seeding is cheaper but takes longer to get established. Sodding provides an instant lawn but it’s more expensive and vulnerable to drought before it takes root. Regardless of how you go about getting your grass started, it’s important to fertilize to ensure the best possible results. I use Jobe’s Organic Lawn Food because it feeds my lawn naturally. It’s made without synthetic chemicals and it’s also phosphorus-free so it won’t harm the environment.

P. Allen Smith Pushing a Fertilizer

Once your lawn is in full swing, all it really needs is water, regular mowing and the occasional re-fertilizing.