Turf Grass Selection Pt 3

wateringby George Altgelt

As promised, this month we’re going to talk about turf grass selection. The best question, as always, is: “What do you want it to do?”

We’ll start with the amount of water it will use. The real question is how much water you’re going to put on it – enough to keep it green or just enough to keep it alive? For all four turf grasses (Buffalo, Zoysia, Bermuda, St. Augustine), the answer is “none” to “a lot ” depending not on the type of grass but the soil under it. For example, there is a home in Oak Hill that has had a lawn around it for 25 years. In this area there have been some pretty tough droughts in that time period. However, in all that time, the owners have never watered it. Or fertilized it, or poisoned it, for that matter. They don’t do anything for their yard except occasional mowing. So what is this grass? It’s St. Augustine! That’s impossible, right? Everything  you’ve heard says that can’t be true.

Remember that the success or failure of plant life is a reflection of the soil ecology that sustains it. This lawn is planted on rich bottom land – in this case, pecan bottom. The shade from the trees is also a factor. You could not grow Buffalo grass and Zoysia wouldn’t do very well. So how brown does the grass get in a drought with no one watering it? Pretty brown, certainly, but its resilience is sustained by the living soil underneath it. That rich soil is what creates a drought-tolerant lawn of St. Augustine grass. And how, exactly, did they do that? Simple! They didn’t water it.

Next month we’ll continue the selection process by examining such things as the amount of foot traffic expected. That includes all kinds of feet: dogs, kids, party guests, neighbors, militant pamphlet distribution agents, and other assorted groups of curious onlookers.


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