Lawn Care and The Grass Plant

The Grass Plant

Introduction

First of all if we are going to have a nice lawn we first must understand the plant we are dealing with. Yes grass is a plant with roots and everything else a plant has including a leaf and a flower

Above Ground

  • Grass plants are 70% to 80% water
  • Grass clippings are 90% water
  • Grass clippings contain:
    • 4% Nitrogen
    • 2% Potassium
    • 0.5% Phosphorus
  • A 10,000 square foot lawn will contain 6 grass plants per square inch, 850 plants per square foot, 8.5 million plants in total.

Below Ground

  • 90% of the weight of grass is in its roots
  • A single grass plant has 387 miles of root
  • There are 329,000 miles of root per square foot
  • 3 billion miles of roots in a 10,000 square foot lawn
  • a 50 x 50 foot lawn (2,500 square feet) releases enough oxygen for a family of four, while absorbing carbon dioxide, hydrogen fluoride, and perosyacetyle nitrate

Feeding the lawn with fertilizers takes just a little understanding of chemistry. Just like we take nutrients from the food we eat, grass plants take nutrients from the soil they grow in. That is why we must replace all nutrients taken from the ground and keep the ground healthy so it will absorb all nutrients we supply. When feeding and treating a lawn you must always remember it is a long process, what you do now might not give your lawn results until next year such as insect control and crabgrass control.

Mowing

Mowing should be approached as if you were giving your baby a bath. You only want to scrub off the dirt and not to scrub so hard that we cause the skin to become irritated and bruised. At ProMow we feel that by removing only the top part of the grass plant with a scissor type cut instead of the machete cut of a spinning rotary mower is the best way to insure the park like appearance you are looking for.

Fertilizing

When you see the numbers listed on the front package of a fertilizer bag the numbers equate to the following:

The 1st number equals parts of Nitrogen. Nitrogen is a nutrient that really promotes growth in plants and growth means green. It will make weed plants grow as well so be careful when applying nitrogen. If you need a green lawn for a party or special event you can always put pure nitrogen on a lawn about three days before your event. Make sure you water thoroughly or put down just before a rainstorm.

The 2nd number equals Phosphate. Phosphate is a nutrient that is mined from special mines that are rich in nutrient deposits and are part of every living thing including humans. Phosphate gives the grass plant a strong backbone feeding the roots first stabilizing each root system them distributing that strength up through the green leaf of the stem.

The 3rd ingredient in fertilizer is Potassium or Potash this ingredient is not a nutrient as much as it is a ground stabilizer. You need to make sure that the ground you are growing grass plants in acts like a sponge. This is what Potassium brings to the table.

When taking care of a lawn it is easy to remember that a lawn needs care and feeding during the holidays. The first feeding should come with a strong dose of weed killer around Memorial Day. During the month of May your grass plants start feeling the ground heat up so the plant can start to release enzymes that promote good root growth. Unfortunately weeds have the same instinct so we must fool the with a feeding of their own. Watch closely the overnight temperatures, when you see a steady overnight temperature of 55 and above it is time to start feeding you grass and weed plants. The next holiday to look for is Independence Day 4th Of July. Your grass plants are doing just that trying to be independent and with this feeding and control application you will set the pace for the entire year. During this feeding make sure an even amount of all ingredients are used such as a 15-15-15 or 12-12-12 and be sure to pour it on don’t be stingy. Your local co-op or garden store can recommend a good treatment. Watch for special mailings from large home and garden stores too. They will often advertise specials on general fertilizers.

After the 4th comes Labor Day at the end of summer. In this treatment it is time to control insects for next year. Grubs and other insects are now laying eggs for hibernation through the winter. What you do now is very important. A 20-04-12 would be a good mix with an insect control added. Thanksgiving means the end of the feeding season unless you really want to be creative with your winter lawn care. The first number is important because Nitrogen will store in the ground for a time-release formula. Again we start to watch evening temperatures and lose some effective points of fertilizer simply because your sponge is not absorbing as much. This is also the time of the year when your grass plants are tired of being mowed played on and they are ready for a long winter nap. This thanksgiving fall feeding should include a weed treatment so we can get a jump on anything that might be trying to hide.

Grass Maintenance

The following sections will detail how to care for grass plants that grow in your area. Remember the success of you lawn is how you feed it, how you mow and treat it and how you treat the soil your plants grow in.

Bermuda Grass

Bermuda Grass Specifications

CHARACTERISTICS
Cool-season grass – dark green color and dense, beautiful appearance, medium leaf texture with excellent leaf uniformity. Forms a strong sod via rhizomes.

RECOMMENDED USAGE
Widely adapted basic lawn grass of the cool, humid, semi-arid and temperate regions – recommended for residential and commercial lawns. Also, widely used on sports fields and play areas, parks, cemeteries, commercial lawns and roadsides.

TEMPERATURE TOLERANCE
Thrives in cool weather and will tolerate very cold winters – undergoes stress during extremely hot weather, but will maintain good color and appearance if properly watered and cared for.

DROUGHT RESISTANCE
Medium – can go into summer dormancy when irrigation is withheld; upon return of moisture supply, will green up again. Some varieties have better tolerance to heat and drought.

SHADE ADAPTATION
Fair to poor – thrives in sunny areas – a few varieties are moderately adapted to partial shade.

WEAR RESISTANCE
Medium – recovers quickly from occasional abuse – will withstand moderate foot traffic usage – rhizomes enhance quick recovery, especially in spring and fall. Consult your local Turf grass Producers International Grower if more information is needed on this or other turf grass species.

Bermuda Grass Maintenance

WATER NEEDS
Moderate – apply at least 1 inch of water as a deep soaking every 4 to 7 days to encourage a deep, healthy root system during hot or dry periods. Avoid frequent, shallow watering that results in shallow roots, permitting weed germination and growth.

MOWING & THATCHING
Optimum-mowing height is 1-2 inches for a quality lawn. Slow growth results in less mowing. Mow regularly with a reel mower, allowing clippings from frequent mowing to remain on the lawn. Never remove more than 1/3 of the shoot growth at one mowing. Minimal thatch build-up seldom requires dethatching.

SOIL & FERTILIZER NEEDS
Prefers an acidic soil pH of 5 to 6.5 – is well adapted to infertile, well-drained soil – very low fertilizer requirement. Fertilize 1 or 2 times a year, spring and fall, with a complete fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphate and potassium – apply nitrogen at 1-2 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft. per year.

DISEASE, WEED & INSECT CONTROL
Aggressive enough to compete with weeds, reducing the need for chemical controls. Minimal disease and insect problems that can be chemically controlled. All information is based on average/normal conditions; individual sites and situations may differ. Therefore, contact your local nurseryman or county Extension Office if more detailed information in needed on specific maintenance questions.

Centipede Grass

Centipede Grass Specifications

CHARACTERISTICS
Warm-season grass – dense, medium to dark green turf – produces an attractive lawn with a medium to coarse textured grass blade – a very low maintenance grass.

RECOMMENDED USAGE
Good general-purpose grass for lawns – best adapted to hot, humid and tropical climates, grows well where rainfall is high and summers are warm and humid – popular because of low maintenance.

TEMPERATURE TOLERANCE
Grows well in full sun – very tolerant to high temperatures, up to 100°F, but sensitive to low temperatures, going dormant through winter months at temperatures below 55°F. Cold hardiness ranks between bermudagrass and St. Augustinegrass.

DROUGHT RESISTANCE
Moderate – is sensitive to drought, but has a rapid recovery rate. Can go into summer dormancy when irrigation is withheld, upon return of moisture supply, will green up again.

SHADE ADAPTATION
Good – some varieties maintain adequate turf quality in 60% shade – tolerant of pine tree shade.

WEAR RESISTANCE
Poor – slow growth pattern – will not withstand heavy wear – recovers slowly from damage. Consult your local Turfgrass Producers International Grower if more information is needed on this or other turfgrass species.

Centipede Grass Maintenance

WATER NEEDS
Moderate – apply at least 1 inch of water as a deep soaking every 4 to 7 days to encourage a deep, healthy root system during hot or dry periods. Avoid frequent, shallow watering that results in shallow roots, permitting weed germination and growth.

MOWING & THATCHING
Optimum-mowing height is 1-2 inches for a quality lawn. Slow growth results in less mowing. Mow regularly with a sharp reel mower, allowing clippings from frequent mowing to remain on the lawn. Never remove more than 1/3 of the shoot growth at one mowing. Minimal thatch build-up seldom requires dethatching.

SOIL & FERTILIZER NEEDS
Prefers an acidic soil pH of 5 to 6.5 – is well adapted to infertile, well-drained soil – very low fertilizer requirement. Fertilize 1 or 2 times a year, spring and fall, with a complete fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphate and potassium – apply nitrogen at 1-2 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft. per year.

DISEASE, WEED & INSECT CONTROL
Aggressive enough to compete with weeds, reducing the need for chemical controls. Minimal disease and insect problems that can be chemically controlled.

Fine Fescue Grass

Fine Fescue Grass Specifications

CHARACTERISTICS
Cool-season grass – deep green color – finest grass blade of any lawn grass -upright growth habit creates a pleasing uniformity – has rapid germination and seedling establishment.

RECOMMENDED USAGE
Well adapted to cool summers and high altitudes – can do well even in cold and arid climates – often used in mixtures with other grasses because of an ability to blend – frequent component of bluegrass mixtures because it grows well in shade or drought-dry soil – used with a warm-season grass in the South, it provides green winter color.

TEMPERATURE TOLERANCE
Good – tolerates hot and cold weather well – has good winter hardiness – can be used in areas that are subject to widest temperature fluctuations.

DROUGHT TOLERANCE
Very good drought tolerance for a cool-season grass can go dormant in summer if irrigation is withheld, upon return of moisture supply it will green up again.

SHADE TOLERANCE
Moderate – most shade tolerant of all grasses but needs some sun – best cool season grass for dry, shady lawns.

WEAR RESISTANCE
Moderate – grass blades are non-succulent and hardy making an ideal play surface – does not recover well from severe injury. Consult your local Turfgrass Producers International Grower if more information is needed on this or other turf grass species.

Fine Fescue Grass Maintenance

WATER NEEDS
Low to moderate – water thoroughly (at least 1 inch) once or twice a week during most summer conditions – can enter summer dormancy if no water available.

MOWING & THATCHING
Mow regularly with a reel mower – slow growth habit results in a uniform response to mowing – does best with a mowing height of 1 – 2 1/2 inches – will tolerate close mowing in cool climates. Clippings from frequent mowing can be left on the lawn, as Fine fescue does not develop thatch. Fine fescue can be left unmowed for a “meadow look.”

SOIL & FERTILIZER NEEDS
Tolerates acid soil well, growing within a soil acidity range of pH 5.0 to 6.5 – has the lowest fertilizer requirements of any cool-season grass – apply a high nitrogen fertilizer with 1 lb. of actual nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. per year split between spring and fall application.

DISEASE, WEED & INSECT CONTROL
Most varieties have good resistance to many turfgrass diseases. Mixed with other grasses,fine fescue adds disease resistance to the turf. It has occasional susceptibility to summer diseases in hot climates, especially in moist, fertile soil.

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky Bluegrass Specifications

CHARACTERISTICS
Cool-season grass – dark green color and dense, beautiful appearance, medium leaf texture with excellent leaf uniformity. Forms a strong sod via rhizomes.

RECOMMENDED USAGE
Widely adapted basic lawn grass of the cool, humid, semi-arid and temperate regions – recommended for residential and commercial lawns. Also, widely used on sports fields and play areas, parks, cemeteries, commercial lawns and roadsides.

TEMPERATURE TOLERANCE
Thrives in cool weather and will tolerate very cold winters – undergoes stress during extremely hot weather, but will maintain good color and appearance if properly watered and cared for.

DROUGHT RESISTANCE
Medium – can go into summer dormancy when irrigation is withheld; upon return of moisture supply, will green up again. Some varieties have better tolerance to heat and drought.

SHADE ADAPTATION
Fair to poor – thrives in sunny areas – a few varieties are moderately adapted to partial shade.

WEAR RESISTANCE
Medium – recovers quickly from occasional abuse – will withstand moderate foot traffic usage – rhizomes enhance quick recovery, especially in spring and fall. Consult your local Turf grass Producers International Grower if more information is needed on this or other turf grass species.

Kentucky Bluegrass Maintenance

WATER NEEDS
Moderate – apply 0.5 to 1 inch of water as a deep soaking every 5 to 7 days to encourage a deep healthy root system during dry or hot periods. Avoid frequent, shallow watering that results in shallow roots, permitting weed germination and growth.

MOWING & THATCHING
Optimum-mowing height 1 1/2 – 2 inches for a high quality lawn. Mow regularly with a sharp reel mower, allowing clippings from frequent mowing to remain on the lawn. Never remove more than 1/3 of the shoot growth at one mowing. Kentucky bluegrass may develop some thatch at higher nitrogen levels. Prime time to dethatch is in early fall.

SOIL & FERTILIZATION NEEDS
Performs best in fertile, non-acid reacting soil with good drainage. Fertilize twice a year, spring and fall, with a complete fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. Apply 2.5 to 4 lbs. actual nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. per year for higher requiring nitrogen varieties also apply fertilizer at 0.5 to I lb. nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. every 4-6 weeks. During summer, fertilizer rates should be reduced by 50%. Water thoroughly after fertilization.

DISEASE, WEED & INSECT CONTROL
New varieties have improved resistance to diseases such as leafspot, stripe smut, powdery mildew, dollar spot, Typhula blight, summer patch and rusts. If broadleaf weeds need to be controlled with herbicide, the turf should be well established and in vigorous condition. Practically all insects that damage lawns can be controlled biologically or with insecticides.

Rye Grass

Rye Grass Specifications

CHARACTERISTICS
Cool-season grass – moderately dark green with good density and fine leaf texture – known for its rapid establishment rate – produces attractive, tough leaves and low growing crowns that create a stable turf – easy to maintain.

RECOMMENDED USAGE
Prefers regions with mild winters and cool moist summers, however, it is highly adaptable and widely used – compatible in mixes with bluegrass and fine fescue to make a hardier turf – can be used for sport fields and play areas.

TEMPERATURE TOLERANCE
Good – newer varieties have greater tolerance to cold winters and hot summers – most vigorous when cool and moist.

DROUGHT TOLERANCE
Good – without water, will go dormant during a short drought, but will recover.

SHADE TOLERANCE
Moderate – shows tolerance to filtered shade.

WEAR RESISTANCE
Fair – suitable for moderate recreation and foot traffic areas exhibiting good initial wear recovery, especially in spring and fail, when growth is rapid. Consult your local Turf grass Producers International Grower if more information is needed on this or other turf grass species.

Rye Grass Maintenance

WATER NEEDS
Moderate – twice weekly, deep watering (at least 1 inch per application) is sufficient – during very hot weather, water more frequently – new varieties have good heat tolerance.

MOWING & THATCHING
Low growth habit – mow with a reel mower at 1 to 2 1/2 inches – new varieties have good mowing qualities and are more tolerant to close mowing. There is no thatch as grass thickens by tillers instead of stolons or rhizomes.

SOIL & FERTILIZER NEEDS
Highly adaptable to a wide range of soils, from light and sandy to heavy and clayey. Fertilizer needs are low to medium – fertilize with high nitrogen fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks in spring and fall, applying between 3 to 6 lbs. of actual nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. annually.

DISEASE, WEED & INSECT CONTROL
Most new varieties of ryegrass have good resistance to diseases and insects, including brown patch, leaf spot, stem and crown rust – used in warm climates in combination with bluegrass, ryegrass reduces the spread of major summer diseases. If there is a weed problem, controls are most effective during spring and fall months – be sure that turf is in vigorous condition prior to herbicide application. Practically all insects that damage lawns can be controlled with insecticides.

St. Augustine Grass

St. Augustine Grass Specifications

CHARACTERISTICS
Warm-season grass – light to medium green color, coarse leaf texture, creeping growth habit, via stolons – robust, fast growing, establishes rapidly – level of maintenance is low to moderate.

RECOMMENDED USAGE
Well adapted to coastal regions with hot, tropical climates – used in residential, commercial and industrial landscapes.

TEMPERATURE TOLERANCE
Thrives in heat, adjusting well to temperatures up to 105°F – goes dormant and turns tan colored during winter when temperatures drop below 55°F. Very poor low temperature hardiness.

DROUGHT RESISTANCE
Excellent to fair – wide range in drought avoidance among varieties. Can go into summer dormancy when irrigation is withheld; upon return of moisture, will green up again.

SHADE ADAPTATION
Excellent to poor – varieties show wide range in shade adaptation.

WEAR RESISTANCE
Moderate – rapid, resilient and stoloniferous growth habit. Consult your local Turf grass Producers International Grower if more information is needed on this or other turf grass species.

St. Augustine Grass Maintenance

WATER NEEDS
Moderate to high, thrives on wet sites – apply 0.5 to 1 inch of water as a deep soaking every 3 to 6 days to encourage a deep, healthy root system during dry or hot periods. Avoid frequent, shallow watering that results in shallow roots, permitting weed germination and growth.

MOWING & THATCHING
Optimum mowing height 2-3 inches for a high quality lawn, mow too low and weeds are likely to gain a foothold. Mow regularly with a sharp reel mower, allowing clippings from frequent mowing to remain of the lawn. Never remove more than 1/3 of the shoot growth at one mowing. A mild vertical cutting may be needed during the warmer months on a vigorous turf that has received high nitrogen fertilization.

SOIL & FERTILIZER NEEDS
Grows on a wide range of soils, but prefers neutral to alkaline soils – has excellent saline salt tolerance. Fertilize twice a year, spring and fall, with a complete fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. May also apply 2 to 3 summer applications of nitrogen fertilizer, using 1 lb. nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. Apply nitrogen at 2 to 6 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. per year. Too high a rate of nitrogen fertilization can increase thatch build-up; encourage chinch bugs and brown patch damage.

DISEASE, WEED & INSECT CONTROL
A well maintained turf will provide the best weed control. Some varieties are resistant or tolerant of chinch bugs and to the St. Augustine decline (SAD) virus. Most fungal diseases of St. Augustinegrass can be controlled with fungicides.

Tall Fescue Grass

Tall Fescue Grass Specifications

CHARACTERISTICS
Cool-season grass – medium to dark green color, moderate density – more extensive root system than any other cool-season turf grass. Texture ranges from coarse to medium for newer turf types. A bunch type grass.

RECOMMENDED USAGE
Very good transition zone grass – adapted to moderately cold winters and warm summers – good tough play lawn – recommended for a wide variety of uses, including residential and commercial landscapes, roadsides, parks, recreation areas, and sports fields.

TEMPERATURE TOLERANCE
Good heat tolerance for a cool-season grass – grows in a wide range of temperatures in the transitional climatic zone between cool and warm climates – less cold hardy than most cool-season grasses.

DROUGHT RESISTANCE
Good – one of the better cool-season turf grasses, fairly deep root system helps avoid drought. Can go into summer dormancy, with brown leaves, when irrigation is withheld; upon return of moisture supply, will green up again. Some varieties have better tolerance to heat and drought.

SHADE ADAPTATION
Good in transition zone – prefers full sun – moderately tolerant to partial shade. Of the cool-season grasses, only fine leafed rescues rank higher in shade adaptation. WEAR RESISTANCE: Good – suitable for moderate recreation and foot traffic areas exhibiting good initial wear recovery, especially in spring and fall when growth is rapid. Consult your local Turf grass Producers International Grower if more information is needed on this or other turf grass species.

Tall Fescue Grass Maintenance

WATER NEEDS
Moderate – apply 0.5 to 1 inch of water as a deep soaking every 3 to 7 days to encourage a deep, healthy root system during dry or hot periods. Avoid frequent, shallow watering that results in shallow roots, permitting weed germination and growth.

MOWING & THATCHING
Optimum mowing height of 2 to 3 inches for a high quality lawn. Mow regularly with a sharp reel mower, allowing clippings from frequent mowing to remain on the lawn. Never remove more than 1/3 of the shoot growth at one mowing. Tall fescue forms very little thatch.

SOIL & FERTILIZER NEEDS
Adapts to a wide range of soil conditions – has rather deep extensive root system for a cool-season grass that makes excellent use of soil moisture and mineral nutrients – good tolerance to saline soil conditions. Fertilize twice a year, spring and fall, with a complete fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphate and potassium – apply N at 2 to 4 lbs. per sq. ft. per year. Will respond well to high nitrogen applications to achieve a higher quality turf. Water thoroughly after fertilization.

DISEASE, WEED & INSECT CONTROL
Varieties are available that are resistant to net blotch, brown patch and crown rust. For weeds, chemical controls are most effective during fall and spring.

Zoysia Grass

Zoysia Grass Specifications

CHARACTERISTICS
Warm-season grass – leaf texture from fine to medium coarse – color ranges from light to medium green – forms a dense, low maintenance lawn – spreads by stolons and rhizomes – shoot growth rate is slow. Easy to maintain.

RECOMMENDED USAGE
Hot, humid and tropical climates – can withstand very heavy usage – recommended for residential and commercial lawn sites.

TEMPERATURE TOLERANCE
Tolerates heat exceptionally well up to 100(F, – subject to winter dormancy as it turns tan to brown at temperatures below 55(F, Zoysia japonica has fair cold hardiness, the best of the zoysias, but still ranks lower than cool-season turfgrasses.

DROUGHT RESISTANCE
Moderate to good – remains green and resists short periods of drought – takes heat as well or better than any other grass. Can go into summer dormancy when irrigation is withheld; upon return of moisture supply, will green up again. Some varieties have better tolerance to heat and drought.

SHADE ADAPTATION
Good – slow growing in partial shade, but much better than some warm-season grasses.

WEAR RESISTANCE
Superior – exceptionally hardy, has the best wear resistance of any grass – tolerates heavy traffic – but slow to recover from severe thinning. Consult your local Turfgrass Producers International Grower if more information is needed on this or other turfgrass species.

Zoysia Grass Maintenance

WATER NEEDS
Low to medium – apply at least 1 inch of water as a deep soaking every, 4 to 7 days to encourage a deep, healthy root system during dry or hot periods. Avoid frequent, shallow watering that results in shallow roots, permitting weed germination and growth.

MOWING & THATCHING
Optimum mowing height 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches for a high quality lawn, slow growth rate reduces mowing frequency. Mow regularly with a sharp reel mower, allowing clippings from frequent mowing to remain on the lawn. Never remove more than 1/3 of the shoot growth at one mowing. Periodic vertical cutting may be needed to control thatch accumulation if high nitrogen level is applied.

SOIL & FERTILIZATION NEEDS
Tolerates high salinity and infertile soil relatively well. Fertilize twice a year, spring and fall, with a complete fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. May also apply 1 or 2 summer fertilizer applications in climates with a long growing season. Apply N at 2 to 5 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft. per year. Water thoroughly after fertilization.

DISEASE, WEED & INSECT CONTROL
Some varieties have good resistance to diseases such as rust and leafspot, and to billbugs. The dense turf produced by zoysiagrass prevents most weeds from appearing. All information is based on average/normal conditions; individual sites and situations may differ. Therefore, contact your local nurseryman or county Extension Office if more detailed information in needed on specific maintenance questions.

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