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Freshly mowed lawn.

Before You Choose

It would be easy to say that people should plant the kind of turfgrass they like the best. However, there are many factors to consider before deciding what is the best turfgrass.


Where the turfgrass will be used is a big factor on selection. High use areas, such as a playgrounds or an athletic field, needs a variety that will recover from wear as fast as possible.

Also, the environmental elements of a location plays a big part in the selection process. Some turfgrass will not tolerate high pH soils, while others will not tolerate cold winters. Also, how much sun the turfgrass will receive is extremely important to know. The grasses commonly used for turf prefer full sun, but some are more tolerant of a little shade than others. However, too much shade is a common reason for poor growing turf.


Weighing the costs of different varieties is also important to look at. A turfgrass that grows fast may be cheaper to establish, but it will need to be mowed more often. Some turfgrass may need to be mowed every five days on average during the growing season. Others varieties only need to be mowed every ten days. Knowing the extra time, as well as wear and tear on a lawn mower, may make the price of establishment less important.

Sprigging, Seeding, Sodding

When planting turfgrass, there are three options; sprigging, seeding, and sodding. Sprigging (planting sprigs or plugs) saves money, but it does take time to grow. When seeding an area, some species also establish slowly from seeds as well. If a grower is wanting instant turf, solid sodding is the way to go. Note that before planting, growers should address any high places or dips in the area. It is much easier to fix these places before planting.

There are several common species that are associated with each planting method.

  • Seeding
    • fescue
    • bermudagrass
    • centipedegrass
  • Sodding and Sprigging 
    • bermudagrass
    • centipedegrass
    • St. Augustine
    • zoysiagrass

No matter what option a grower chooses, it is recommend to apply the nutrients needed for that particular grass. A soil test is the only way to know how much of what fertilizer or lime a growers needs to apply to an area.

Managing Mixed Turfgrass

If a grower has a mixed turf and prefers one of the species in the mix over the others, their management strategies should be geared toward the grass they prefer. Applying the management practices for that species will encourage that grass to spread. This practice works well unless the turf has more than one species that responds well to the same management practices. In some instances, a grower can use selective herbicides that will take out one species and leave another.

Improving Bare Places

If there are only a few bare places in the turf, a grower can dig up grass from one area and move it to the bare places. Stolons are the above ground stems that grow out from the plant and eventually take root and form new plants. Growers can pull stolons that are creeping across a sidewalk or driveway and plant them in bare places. This process is called sprigging.

Stolons may not have roots, so they will have to be in contact with the soil. Growers will usually have to bury part of the stolon and leave part of it above ground. Do this during the growing season and make sure to water it. These areas may be covered lightly with pine straw and checked for moisture every morning and evening for at least a week.

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