Best grass seed for thick, dark, new lawn in extreme northeast AL

pierce_phillips(7a)June 7, 2008

Hi -- I have a question for the Southern lawn experts and enthusiasts out there.

I live in the extreme northeast part of Alabama, in northwestern Jackson County, north and slightly west of Scottsboro. We are in zone 7A, by both the USDA and Arbor Day maps. We are in the Transition Zone, in terms of lawns, according to the map on Wikipedia (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/9a/LawnGrassMap.jpg). Being in the Appalachian mountains, the elevation varies between about 600 - 1,800 feet above sea level.

I want to know what people would recommend as the best choice(s) for seeding a new lawn. I have a lot which will be clear-cut, leveled, and have the appropriate topsoil/compost/fertilizer/whatever put on it.

I am looking for a thick lawn which is a dark, lush green. Medium-green (i.e. yellow-green) lawns are UGLY, and I want no part of them.

In addition -- I raise German Shepherds for a living, so it needs to be something which can stand up to high traffic and wear & tear. For the same reason, it also needs to grow to full, thick maturity quickly (i.e. within a few months...not two years).

The property has a mix of direct sun, partial sun, and heavy shade.

The summers here are HOT (plenty of days in the 90s and above), and the winters are pretty chilly, with some light snow and several frosts and plenty of nights below freezing. It's humid year-round. We get 60-62 inches of rain per year.

I had been looking at various Fescues, such as the Pennington Seed "Rebel" varities, particularly "The Rebels Supreme Blend Grass Seed for Sun & Shade" (as seen on www.turf.com). The only thing I don't like about Fescues are (1) that the blades are very thin (as opposed to the nice wide-blade St. Augustine grass common where I grew up in southeast Florida), and (2) you can't mow them down to the civilized level of 1.25"-1.75"...you have to leave them at 2.5"-3".

So what would you folks recommend?

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pierce_phillips(7a)

Two things I forgot to mention:

* I've also been looking at Zoysia grass, and am curious to learn how it compares with Fescue grass

* I want my lawn to stay as green as possible during the winter months...brown, dead-looking winter lawns are just depressing.

Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 10:33AM
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soccer_dad

I was hoping someone would answer your post cause it is kind of interesting. Perhaps it is because you have laid a lot of requirements on simple grass. I'm not sure there is one type that meets all of your desires.

You may want to research the hybrid bluegrasses though some say the newer elite varieties of KBG are just as heat tolerant. Mixed with tall fescue appears to be popular with sod producers in the more southern parts of the transition zone.

Overseeding bermuda with rye is a traditional southern golf course technique for green winter cover, but is expensive and can be hard on the bermuda. What level of maintenance, cost, and effort are you willing to go to to achieve your desires?

The shepherds will wear out the grass if left in a small space. There is no grass that can tolerate that kind of wear without intensive maintenance. You may want to find out what grass is used on football and soccer fields in your area. Chances are that will be the most wear resistant.

How do you intend to maintain the turf?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 8:17PM
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pierce_phillips(7a)

Thanks for the reply!

In the absence of anyone bothering to help me out, I made some calls, and found that there's a placed called Top Turf Sod Farm within a few miles of where I live. They offer three different sods, and this is the one I plan to use:

"Rebel Exceda Fescue with Solar Green bluegrass - Scientifically developed to grow darker, greener and denser than other brands, this grass is beautiful even in the winter. A hybrid possessing the best qualities of both types of turf, this grass doesn't enter dormancy throughout the winter months, is ideal for shaded areas with regular water maintenance, and boasts exceptional durability for heavy traffic areas. It has great durability to withstand heat and drought. $1.80 per square yard, or $90 per pallet."

You might point out that I'm talking about sod now, even though the original post was about seed. By going with sod, I have "instant lawn", with no need to keep the dogs penned up for several months while the seeds get going.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 8:22PM
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soccer_dad

I hope it works out for you.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 9:28PM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

pierce_phillips - Exeda and KBG is a beautiful dark green turf grass combination. I have it and love it, but you're gonna be disheartened around the latter part of July and August.

Unless you pour the water to it (in 90+ everyday heat you need at least 1.5-2.0" deep-soaking water a week) to keep it green and not go dormant. If it does go dormant, most of it will come back when you get more or consistant rainfall or in the fall when cooler soil and air temps prevail.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 8:18AM
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