New house and lawn, what should I use?

nannerbelle(8A)April 27, 2013

Hi all, I'm in the process of building a new house and will be doing the yard and landscaping again myself as I have done on my current house. I'm looking for advice on what type of grass will work best for the yard. The yard area has areas of shade and some areas of full sun so I need something that will handle a variety of sun exposure. The soil is a nice loam, old farm country. It's toward the sandy side, not much clay at all in it. I haven't tested it yet so I am not sure on that one. Any ideas on what would work well? I'm in South Carolina, so there is plenty of warm and sunshine. I'm hoping to move in mid June. So I'm even wondering if I should just fertilize and amend the soil as needed this year and throw out some annual rye when it gets to fall and plant next spring. Thoughts?

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The only cool season grass you should even think about using is tall fescue, and in SC it's not the best option, but it will work, and will tolerate the shade. If you chose a warm season grass, then you have several options: Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine, and Paspalum. These grasses are generally installed via sod, but there are seeded varieties of Bermuda, Zoysia and Paspalum. Bermuda generally doesn't like shade, but there are two varieties that do OK in moderate shade (Celebration and Tifgrand) but they are not available from seed. Most Bermuda prefers frequent mowing at a short height, and monthly fertilizing, although some varieties you can cut higher than others. Zoysia can tolerate some shade, and has a nice dark green color. Of the warm season grasses it looks most like a traditional lawn in color and texture, and most can be cut higher than Bermuda. St. Augustine isn't available from seed, but it is shade tolerant, and can be mowed higher than the other grasses I mentioned. The wide bladed course stuff you see all over Florida is St. Augustine, but there are other cultivars that have finer blades. Paspalum is a relatively new for home use. There is a seeded variety called Seaspray. It has a fine texture, and once established can be watered with brackish or grey water. It prefers a short cut and moderate fertilizing. All the warm season grasses will go dormant in your area in the fall/winter unless you have an unusually warm winter. They all spread via rhizomes,or stolons, or both so areas of damage will fill in with new grass. Tall fescue will probably stay green year round, but in the summer it will struggle in the heat and humidity unless it's irrigated often or it rains a lot. Tall fescue doesn't really spread all that much, so any bare areas will have to be seeded. Seeding for TF should be done in the fall for SC. The warm season grasses should be seeded in the early summer. Sod can be put down any time the ground isn't frozen but will establish faster if laid in the late spring/early summer.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 8:38PM
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Thanks Tiemco, I'm already leaning toward the warm season grasses. I did Bermuda at my current house from seed and it was tough to establish. I'm also leaning toward sod this time. It's looking like Zoysia or St. Augustine is the right choice. Do you have any advice for one over the other?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 1:44AM
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No, not really. As I said earlier, I am not that versed on warm season grasses, I know just enough to be dangerous. I am sure there are others on this forum that will post some replies. Part of it is personal preference as well, you have to get what you like and what fits your level of lawn maintenance.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 8:18AM
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If you live in SC and have sandy soil, before you do anything is have the soil tested and scrutinize the soil PH as that will dictate what you can and cannot do. SC sandy loan is well known for being very acidic, so much so only Centiweed can be used aka Centipede Grass. If your soil PH is below 6.0, you have no other realistic choice other than Centiweed. There is no realistic way to neutralize acidic soil. You can get it up a little with lime but not enough and it would be a life long loosing battle.

If you are above say 6.3 up to 7.0 and have some shade issues Saint Augustine would be the preferred choice as it ihas the best best shade tolerance of the warm season grasses followed by some varieties of Zoysia which are moderately shade tolerant. Bermuda is out of the question with shade issues.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 12:31PM
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Thanks Texas-weed! Yes i have to have the soil tested. I haven't yet, the house is still under construction. But you are confirming what research I've done is saying. Thanks so much for your help!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 3:14PM
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