Lawn Care for Warm Season Grasses

When it comes to lawn care, there’s a little more involvement than most people are aware of. Even something as simple as your watering schedule can be reliant upon which type of grass you have and where you live. Right now, though, we’re focusing on warm season grasses and what you need to know in order to best care for your lawn.

Warm Season Grasses

Warm season grasses are the ones that thrive in the warmer weather of the south. They originated from tropical regions, and as such can be found in the Southern United States, where the temperatures are often between 75 degrees and 90 degrees, or hotter. Once it cools down, the grass tends to go dormant and turn brown, only to spring back to life when the weather warms up again.

Types of Warm Season Grasses

Let’s look at some of the most common types of warm season grass:

  • Augustinegrass – Found in the Gulf States, with sandy soil, this grass is resilient and resistant to housing chiggers. It’s hardiness, drought tolerance, and low maintenance has it as a favorite among homeowners.
  • Zoysiagrass – Found in the South, and MidWest, in the Transition Zone, where the cool and warm season grasses can both be found in plenty. This grass can be grown in all types of soils, has drought tolerance, and has low maintenance requirements.
  • Bermudagrass – Like Zoysia, it’s found in the Transition Zone, and also along the South.
  • Centipedegrass – A low-maintenance grass found in the South East, from South Carolina to Florida. With moderate shade tolerance and low nutrient requirements, it’s easy to care for, but is sensitive to alkaline soil.
  • Bahiagrass – Like St. Augustine, this grass is found in the Gulf States, where the air is salty and the soil is sandy, but is generally found closer to the coastline than St. Augustine. It needs more maintenance than other warm season grasses, but has a high drought tolerance and is very heat tolerant as well.

Winter Options for Your Lawn

The kind of grass you decide to use for your lawn depends fully upon your aesthetics and where you live. Knowing that the warm season grasses will go dormant during the winter months, many people decide to overseed their lawns with Ryegrass, a cool season grass that will thrive during the winter and go dormant in time for your warm season grass to take over.

While this may work for your lawn, it’s best to talk with a professional to make sure the grasses you decide to use are compatible, as watering during the winter months may just bring your warm season grass out of dormancy if the weather isn’t too cold (as can happen in the Southern states).

Watering Schedules for Your Lawn

When it comes to watering your warm season grass, a lot depends on the root systems. Watering your lawn for short periods tends to develop a shallow root system that is more vulnerable to disease, rot and uprooting. Instead, you should water for longer periods and allow the soil to soak through.

However, due to the high temperatures and the needs of warm season grasses, you should avoid watering your lawn for longer than an hour at most, or watering at night where the water can sit and create mildew. It’s best to water your lawn in the early morning, or just before sunrise. This is so the excess water can evaporate, but not scorch your lawn. If you water during the hottest points of the day, then you’re liable to kill your grass by scorching.

Try to water at least three times a week, if not every day. Many Southern states tend to set up watering schedules on an every-other-day basis when droughts are in effect, so keep that in mind when choosing your grass type.

Lawn Care and Maintenance

When it comes to maintaining your lawn, it’s best to know what you’re working with. If you have questions about how to care for your lawn, your local lawn services should be able to answer them.

This company that does lawn care in Lubbock, TX has a great article on the three major types of warm season grasses and how they behave in their climate. They break down each type and explain how often to water, when to fertilize, if you should dethatch, and tips for getting new grass to grow.

Darren Harms
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I enjoy researching and writing about home improvement projects including HVAC, plumbing, electrical, lawn care, and more.

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