Trying to Select Lawn Type for Atlanta

auggie1020February 10, 2013

Hi All:

I live in Atlanta,GA. Just bought a new house which has a beautiful Bermuda lawn in the front yard which is full sun. The backyard is a different story. It is partial sun because there are some large trees on the neighboring properties and I have large Leyland Cypresses for privacy along the property line. Even so, it does get a good bit of sun back there. I really like the bermuda and don't want to plant fescue in the back. I would prefer the whole lawn to be the same but I just really want to make a selection that will do the best with the least amount of care. Anyone have any ideas on what to plant. Can I plant seed or do I have to sod. I do have a sprinkler system so I can water to establish the lawn but I really do not want to water much after that if I can help it. Thanks for the help!

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texas-weed(7A)

Zoysia might work if the shade is not too deep. Like Bermuda Zoysia is a warm season sod forming grass, and some of the varieties look a lot like Bermuda. Zoysia also has great drought tolerance and can be on the same watering schedule.

The biggest difference between Bermuda and Zoysia is the Zoysia does not require as much mowing and fertilizer.

As for varieties look into Diamond and Emerald as both are available in your area and high quality that will be a pretty good match with your Bermuda.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 6:39PM
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serenitylawnservice

The major question is how much direct sunlight is the back getting and how much that will change as the neighboring trees mature. The other major issue in Atlanta is soil conditions, which are a factor regardless of the choice of grass type. The Zoysia recommendation by texas-weed, for example, is an excellent option for partial shade, but I've seen quite a few homeowners that went that route and were dis-satisfied. They assumed it to be bad information from their landscaper, but typically a soil test revealed high acidity levels, which Zoysia is more sensitive to than most turf types. Once that was corrected, the Zoysia performed well. As for seeding, I would not recommend seeding warm season grasses. It can be done, but the germination process is slower and more difficult than with Fescue varieties, which people are used to seeing. Sprigging is an economic alternative to sodding, but good soil preparation is imperative to success when sprigging a lawn.

I serve the Atlanta area, and while I don't do installation or landscaping, I would be happy to point you in the right direction on what to do. My facebook link has an album for "Fixing Problem Areas" that might help with soil preparation.

Here is a link that might be useful: Serenity Lawn Service

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 3:58PM
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serenitylawnservice

The major question is how much direct sunlight is the back getting and how much that will change as the neighboring trees mature. The other major issue in Atlanta is soil conditions, which are a factor regardless of the choice of grass type. The Zoysia recommendation by texas-weed, for example, is an excellent option for partial shade, but I've seen quite a few homeowners that went that route and were dis-satisfied. They assumed it to be bad information from their landscaper, but typically a soil test revealed high acidity levels, which Zoysia is more sensitive to than most turf types. Once that was corrected, the Zoysia performed well. As for seeding, I would not recommend seeding warm season grasses. It can be done, but the germination process is slower and more difficult than with Fescue varieties, which people are used to seeing. Sprigging is an economic alternative to sodding, but good soil preparation is imperative to success when sprigging a lawn.

I serve the Atlanta area, and while I don't do installation or landscaping, I would be happy to point you in the right direction on what to do. My facebook link has an album for "Fixing Problem Areas" that might help with soil preparation.

Here is a link that might be useful: Serenity Lawn Service

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 4:34PM
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auggie1020

Thanks Texas-weed and Serenity for the advice. I was leaning toward Zoysia as I didn't want to have half the yard green in the winter and half the yard brown. Is there a better time of year to sod? If high acid is a problem, what would a reading be that I would want to shoot for?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 10:09AM
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texas-weed(7A)

There is no wrong time of year to lay sod, but some times are better than others. Best time is in spring after the grass has greened up growing vigorously. This will give it spring, summer, and fall to set roots and develop.

Soil PH for Zoysia is 6.0 to 7.0 with 6.5 to 6.8 being ideal. A PH less than 7 is acidic, and above 7 is alkaline. 7.0 is neutral.

If I were you I would get a soil test done yesterday, make any corrections today, then lay sod after you see green up.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 12:52PM
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serenitylawnservice

The ideal pH for Zoysia is 6.5. If you visit the State extension agency's website, or submit a soil test to them, they give a range of 5.5 to 6.5 for Zoysia. However, more recent studies of the effect of soil acidity on root development indicate that keeping the pH up produces deeper root development. Your county extension office can process a soil test with all of the information you need for $8.

As for sodding, do not sod now. Although sod can be laid at any time if moisture levels are maintained, laying dormant sod is only done when completely necessary. During the sod cutting process, most of the adventitious roots (or secondary roots) are removed. This adventitious roots developed as the lawn matured, and are the primary source of water for mature grass. Actively growing sod will quickly replace these roots and become self-sustaining in a few weeks, whereas dormant sod has to be irrigated, as if it was just laid, until a few weeks after it greens up and takes root; so save your water and wait until May (mid-April at the earliest). The State keeps recommended calendars available through your extension agent. I believe they list May through July as the "best" months and April and August as "possible" months.

The link I provided below gives a list of county offices. Just click on your county for office hours, contact info, etc. When you're ready to do the soil test, just take plugs from various points in the back lawn, pulling soil from 2"-4" in depth, and totaling about 1 cup. I submit these in a ziplock bag and they have all the paperwork there for you (if memory serves, they only take cash or check). They usually email the results in one week.

I'm going to take a guess and say that your pH will be 5.5, unless you have pines nearby, in which case I will guess 5.0. If it is 5.5 and they tell you that is fine, I still recommend putting down 20 to 40 lbs of lime per 1,000 sqft. to get the pH up toward 6.5.

Since you're in the Atlanta area, feel free to contact me for questions. My website is linked in the first post.

Here is a link that might be useful: Georgia Extension Agents by County

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 9:59PM
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rager_w

Definitely get the soil test.
Very dependent on the amount of shade but you could try TifGrand. It is available in ATL now at about $120 per pallet. http://www.ngturf.com/varieties/bermuda/tifgrand.aspx

Don't believe all of the hype, it is slightly better than 419. Then there is Celebration, but I wasn't able to find any last year (except for Alabama). The picture shows an area under a large pine, where I place a pallet of TifGrand over the baren 419. It did really well the first year, but is dying back in the deepest shade area. I may try shadow turf this year n a few spots, but it's very expensive and very slow! I used one flat of shadow turf (only available as sprigs) in my back yard 3 years ago and it is finally filling in.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 4:34PM
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texas-weed(7A)

I used one flat of shadow turf (only available as sprigs) in my back yard 3 years ago and it is finally filling in.

So what are your thoughts on Shadow Turf, and can you post a close up picture? Would like to see it.

Ever since its release I have not heard much positive about it.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 11:32PM
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rager_w

I will TW when I can get a good pic. I'll admit, I'm much less patient than required for shadow turf. I stuck it in a corner and kind of forgot about it. This year when I looked I realized, due to the texture, that it was healthy zoysia (shadow turf). Still too expensive to do a large area.

BTW, I owe my great lawn to TW and the Bermuda Bible!!!!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 6:21PM
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texas-weed(7A)

Thanks Rager. I am just curious about Shadow Turf. To this day I have not heard anything real positive about it. Personally I have no experience with it. Got curious about it several years ago, but could never get any 3rd party data about it.

I know about the expense and it is extremely slow even for Zoysia. From what I can tell it is a MISS by TAMU. At least they got Floartam to brag about. Glad I did not invest in it on the farm. I made one huge mistake early in my carer with Fescue, never again.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 7:46PM
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