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A Turfgrass Variety for Every Reason


According to Wayne Thorson of Todd Valley Farms, Inc., “Buffalograss has good heat stress tolerance, can reduce mowing by 80 percent, is extremely drought tolerant, uses very little water and has a very deep root system allowing it to remain actively growing during extended droughts, but still go dormant if moisture runs out. The average water use rates are 0.25 inches per week.

Several turfgrass specialists gave us their opinions about turfgrass attributes, needs and special points of interest. Because different turfgrass species do not perform equally in different climates and soils you need to be aware of which works in your area. In addition, planting the right turfgrass reduces the need for pesticides, fertilizers and, most importantly for some areas, water.

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Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass is one of the world’s most widely used grasses. Its popularity comes from its ability to germinate in 7 to 10 days or less. With its dark color, strong root system, this cool-season grass, can adapt to many different kinds of soil, including poor soils, clay, and badly drained areas. According to Jonathan Rupert of Titan Limited-Smith Seed Services, “Perennial ryegrass has a fairly short root depth, and is used a lot in athletic fields because of its quick response to fertilizer, but it shuts down fast, too.”


Bermudagrass sod is a tough, fine-textured, aggressive, warm-season turf, perfect for athletic fields. It does not tolerate shade, so overhangs and trees are a big problem. It will grow in many soil types with a pH of 5.8 to 7.1. According to Brett Hill of A-G Sod Farms Inc., “Bermuda loves the hotter, drier climates (desert regions) as it requires less water than cool season turf and regenerates when damaged.”

St. Augustine Grass

St. Augustine grass is a widely used lawn grass along the Gulf Coast. It is native to sandy beach ridges, fringes of swamps, lagoons, salty and fresh water marshes, and shorelines. It tolerates a wide range in soil types. According to Hill, “Overseeding with rye grass is necessary to keep the green color in winter months, which is something most homeowners do not want to do. In addition, most warm season grasses require a reel cut mower, which is more expensive for the homeowner.”

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky Bluegrass grows best in the northeastern and central states. This dense grass has good color, a fine texture and is the cold hardiest of all turf grasses. It has a high water requirement and may suffer in summer heat if mowed too short. According to Hill, “Kentucky bluegrass and some fescue blends do have rhizomes to regenerate damaged areas. Although the process is slow, it’s effective.”

Tall Fescue

Although Tall Fescue establishes slower than ryegrass, once it is established and stable it is one of the toughest most durable grasses. It forms a dense sod that is resistant to heavy grazing and trampling because of its high wear resistance. According to Rupert, “Good in shade areas due to deeper roots, because it gets below tree roots in competition for water.”


Without periodic dethatching or topdressing of soil, you can lose a zoysia lawn to excess thatch. Thus the maintenance can be considered medium-high to high. Zoysiagrass can have billbug problems and several diseases like nematodes, rust and brown patch. According to Thorson, “Although it exhibits heat stress tolerance, their aggressive rhizomes can become a nuisance, contaminating other landscape areas.”


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May 19, 2019, 8:17 am PDT

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