As spring weather improves many of us will be out on our lawns correcting bare or damaged areas created over the winter months. The first step in fixing these problems is to assess what has caused the problem to occur. Whether it is drainage, soil pH or fertility, traffic, heavy shade, etc. these need to be corrected before you can expect any new turf to survive. I receive several dozen requests each spring for information on selecting the best turf species to correct such problems. The first criteria and most importantly are to select a turf species that is adaptable to your area. It always amazes me to walk through the garden center sections of particularly the larger chain stores and see what is being offered for purchase to establish or repair Southern lawns. Many of the seed on the shelves are just not suitable for permanent Mississippi lawns. Unless you live in the extreme northern counties most cool-season turf species (ryegrass, bluegrass, and many fescues) will be poor permanent lawn choices as the heat of summer will be their demise and should not be planted even as temporary lawns once our warm season turf species begin to green-up. If seeding is your only option centipede, bermudagrass, carpetgrass, zoysia, and bahia are your warm-season choices. All previously mentioned warm season species along with St. Augustine can also be established vegetatively (sprigs, plugs, sod). Each species has specific characteristics that make them most suitable for different locations, fertility levels, shade, uses, etc.
To better understand the advantages and disadvantages of these different warm-season turf species and how to best establish them obtain a copy of Extension Publication #1322 “Establish and Manage Your Home Lawn” from your local Extension office or from the internet web at www.msucares.com.
Published February 25, 2013
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org