The first thing a homeowner needs do if they want to keep the grass of their lawn green all year long is to seed the lawn with grass that holds on to its green color during periods of drought, heat or cold. Even if this grass does go dormant and turn brown, it can be revived when the period of adversity passes, whether it is through a change of season or the end of a drought. There are those grasses that have a greater ability to stay green throughout the year if they are planted in the right place and receive the right care. They are:
- Zoysia Grass. Native to Asia, zoysia is a warm season grass that can tolerate cold and light shade, though like most grasses it does best in full sun. Light to medium green, zoysia grass is so dense that it crowds out weeds. It is prized because it does not need much watering or pampering and is tolerant of traffic. It grows best in the warmer areas of the country such as the South and southern California but is also used in transition zones that are too hot for cold season grasses and too cool for warm season grasses. This would be areas in the Midwest.
- Zoysia grass can go dormant and turn brown during long periods of drought and during hard winters, but it tends to stay green longer than other grasses that have their most vigorous growth during the warmer months.
- Kentucky Bluegrass. In contrast to zoysia grass, Kentucky bluegrass is a cool season grass that grows best during the fall and early spring. It also needs a fairly high level of care. But its dense, winter hardy, emerald green and luxuriant growth makes it the ideal lawn grass for many people. By the way, Kentucky bluegrass didn’t originate in Kentucky. Like most other grasses, it is native to northern Asia and Europe. Its name also belies the fact that it doesn’t do as well in the heat and humidity of southern states or the dry heat of the southwest. This grass turns brown when it is too hot or dry but recovers when the weather cools down or it is deeply watered.
- Bermuda Grass. This grass is a tough, warm season grass that tolerates drought, salt, heat and heavy traffic. It is excellent for southern climates but needs not only full sun but soil that drains well. It is also a high maintenance grass and needs a lot of fertilizing. It is not quite as cold tolerant as zoysia grass, but has a deep root system that allows it to bounce back after trauma. This is why Bermuda grass is preferred for playing fields. It also grows extremely quickly and may even become invasive.
Besides the type of grass, the homeowner needs to take care of it in the right way. This involves:
Lawn experts claim that it is better to water a lawn deeply and infrequently than giving it frequent sips of water through the sprinkler system or gardening hose. Infrequent watering that stresses the grass a bit forces its roots to dig deep into the soil to look for water. The lawn should be watered in the morning, indeed, before the sun rises. This allows the water to sink in before a lot of it is lost to evaporation. Lawns shouldn’t be watered at night because it puts them at risk for disease.
The rule of thumb is that the lawn should not be mown greater than 1/3 of the height of the grass, though warm season grasses should be mown a bit higher than this. The blade of the mower should be kept sharp because a dull blade only crushes the grass and invites disease and pests.
Some grasses need to be fed more than others. Zoysia grass does not need too much fertilizing, while Kentucky bluegrass and Bermuda grass are notoriously heavy feeders. Besides this, warm and cool season grasses are fed on different schedules because their period of growth happens at different times of the year.
This measurement determines whether the soil is acidic or alkaline. Zoysia, Bermuda grass and Kentucky bluegrass do best in soil that is a bit acidic to neutral. Lime can be added if the soil is too acidic.
Aerating and Thatching
Aerating allows oxygen and other nutrients to get into a lawn whose grass has grown too dense and tangled. An aerating machine pulls little plugs out of the lawn to do this. It is similar to dethatching, where another type of machine breaks up thatch in the lawn. Thatch is a snarl of dead leaves, dead grass and other debris that also prevents the lawn from receiving nutrients.