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Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

Posted by hostalover67 SC 7b (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 4, 08 at 11:38

Hi! We have recently moved to the South from PA. We are in the process of building a house here in SC, located midway between Augusta and Columbia, just a few miles south of I-20 (Aiken Co.) We seem to be on the very southern edge of the transition zone.

Our home site is the woods--tall pines and oaks all around, so we will have at least some shady areas. We will also have an irrigation system installed.

My question: Are we out of our minds to plant cool season grass in this area? We are considering KBG or TTTF.

We are told "everyone" here plants bermuda or other warm season grasses. Maybe I'm just an old dog that doesn't want to learn new tricks, but I hate the idea that most of the yards around here still brown or just starting to green up--after all the warm weather we've had in the last weeks!

I wouldn't mind if the lawn goes dormant for a month or two in the summer, if I could have green grass the rest of the year.

So, what do y'all think? Is it even feasible? If so, what cool season grass would be better, KBG or Turf type tall Fescue?

Thanks so much for your time!

I would


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

I think the person you need feedback from is Quirkyquercus. I have not seen him post lately. But you might want to read the posts below.

He has been experimenting with cool season grasses with some success in Atlanta.

Here are a few threads where he posted information about his experiment:

KBG in Ga
KBG and other Cool season grasses
Midnight vs Midnight II


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

TTTF should work for you, particularly since you have trees to moderate the hot summer temps and provide some shade. Try to incorporate as much organic material into your soil and lawn as possible. Mulch mow all your Autumn leaves. Pine needles can go into the flower beds. A healthy soil will provide for a more draught resistant lawn than just sand or clay fertilized with chemicals. Good luck with your new home lawn and gardens.
Bill Hill


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

TurfToes--thanks for the links. I've spent hours reading this forum the last few days, but I didn't come across those threads. Looks like some interesting reading...

Bill--Thanks for the advice! We are planning to amend the soil with manure and lime, and whatever the soil test results recommend before planting.

Anybody have any recommendations on which would be best: Perennial Rygrass, Bluegrass or Fescue? Or should we use a mix?

We do have 3 boys (10, 13,and 15)and three Labs, so wear is an issue, too. Also we are not striving for an immaculate "showplace" lawn--just a healthy one that's not brown for 5 months out of the year.


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

We do have 3 boys (10, 13,and 15)and three Labs, so wear is an issue, too. Also we are not striving for an immaculate "showplace" lawn--just a healthy one that's not brown for 5 months out of the year.
Its refreshing to see clear cut goals and expectations stated in a new posters lawncare question. Ordinarily I dont like the most common Northern mixture of KBG / Rye/ and fine fescue. But, in the southern transition area and your stated purpose and goals, that mixture may be the best way to go. Bear in mind that Im a Michigander and really dont know squat about SC / GA climates and southern lawns. Do invest in the highest quality seed you can find. Lesco may have a suitable mix, or Scotts has some alleged draught resistant varieties of KBG in their mixtures. Where is Quirkyquercus when we need him ?
Bill Hill


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

I live in the northern part of Blythewood SC and I can tell you from growing TTTF for the past 8 years that I will do well since you have some shade. I agree with Bill get quality seeds. I experimented with Texas Bluegrass back in '05 and it held it's own last summer right along with the TTTF. I've noticed it spreading over the yard more and more every year. You might want to try it out at some point. I really like the look especially after a fresh cut and plan to incorporate more this fall. Good luck.


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

Thanks all for your input!

Bill, why do your recommend the Rye/KBG/Fescue for my situation when you normally don't like it? Just trying to understand the whys and wherefores in order to make the right choice here...

Outdoorsman, it's great to hear from someone who's had success with fescue and BG who's so close to me geographically--I believe you are just NE of Columbia? Do you know what then name of the TTTF was that you planted?

I have been considering Combat Extreme fescue. Is that a good choice? How do I know I am getting quality seeds? Are there certain names or brands I should look for.

Previously, we lived on an old farmstead and mowed 2-3 acres of grass (and weeds!). I don't even know what kind it was. Probably a mixture of KBG, Rye, and Fescue. It just grew and we cut it, and let it go dormant in the hazy, hot and humid PA summers. I know it gets a little hotter here and stays hotter longer, but SE PA is pretty steamy in the summertime too! My gut feeling is that with irrigation, these grasses should do fine here, especially in part shade. It just bothers me that I don't see anyone else growing cool season grasses around me, and I wonder if I might be missing something, newcomer that I am here!

Anyway, thanks for your comments, and I'd appreciate any further tips anyone might have...


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

Thanks all for your input!

Bill, why do your recommend the Rye/KBG/Fescue for my situation when you normally don't like it? Just trying to understand the whys and wherefores in order to make the right choice here...

Outdoorsman, it's great to hear from someone who's had success with fescue and BG who's so close to me geographically--I believe you are just NE of Columbia? Do you know what then name of the TTTF was that you planted?

I have been considering Combat Extreme fescue. Is that a good choice? How do I know I am getting quality seeds? Are there certain names or brands I should look for.

Previously, we lived on an old farmstead and mowed 2-3 acres of grass (and weeds!). I don't even know what kind it was. Probably a mixture of KBG, Rye, and Fescue. It just grew and we cut it, and let it go dormant in the hazy, hot and humid PA summers. I know it gets a little hotter here and stays hotter longer, but SE PA is pretty steamy in the summertime too! My gut feeling is that with irrigation, these grasses should do fine here, especially in part shade. It just bothers me that I don't see anyone else growing cool season grasses around me, and I wonder if I might be missing something, newcomer that I am here!

Anyway, thanks for your comments, and I'd appreciate any further tips anyone might have...


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

Same here,

I use a mix Grand II, SR-8600 and Black Watch. It's up within 7 days without fail. The seeds are blue tag certified. High germ rate and 100% weed free. The bluegrass I mixed with it last fall is coming in nicely right now. If you have any other questions and need a fast response shoot me an email at thomasb247@yahoo.com as I don't get out here as often these days. Good luck


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

hostalover67, I think TTTF with 5 to 10% Kentucky bluegrass will work perfectly for your situation. I think your grass' biggest enemy is going to be your 3 dogs, not the heat or the humidity.

I'm up in Raleigh, NC, I can help you get cool season grass seed if you really want. I travel to Spartanburg, SC every months for business, I'm sure I can pick up a 50lb bag of the best Fescue and Bluegrass you can find.

You could try 100% Kentucky Bluegrass (elite only) if you want, but you must irrigate. Again, I think your future grass' wort enemy is going to be those 3 dogs.

In 2007, Central North Carolina had a Phoenix-like summer. Record breaking temperatures set every day in the 100's... Very unuseual for our climate. Normally in the summer we stay arround 85 - 90 during the day, and 60 - 70 at night in the hottest part of the summer. So my 100% Elite Kentucky Bluegrass survived the asult with minor heat-related injuries. Most of the damage was caused by Grubs, but that's another story.

Anyway, I hope this information is useful to you.


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

  • Posted by tak2w 8a Eastern NC (My Page) on
    Fri, May 2, 08 at 8:40

With all the shade you have, the KBG recommendation might not be the best idea. TTTF, or a blend of TTTF with a little KBG would be your best bet.


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

"Our home site is the woods--tall pines and oaks all around, so we will have at least some shady areas."

"Some" shady areas, not all shade. KBG will take some shade, no problem. I have it in my backyard as part of a mix with Fine Fescue and Perennial Ryegrass on medium to deep shade in some areas, about 2 to 4 hours of direct sun at best during the mid-spring to late fall.

I do think however, the Fescue/Bluegrass mix/blend will be best for his situation, that's not to say that 100% bluegrass will not grow instead.


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

I moved from Michigan to North Carolina 8 years ago now. While it is possible to grow all sorts of plants outside of their native environment, I think you will find that gardening and lawncare can be much easier and more relaxing if you work with nature instead of against it. You could grow fescue and maybe even some KBG, but neither are particularly well suited for your area. They will have problems with the heat and require lots of water. The extra water and stress will leave the lawn more prone to insect damage and diseases. If you have a small area you are willing to tend and water, you can probably make it work. If you are going to have an expansive lawn, caring for acres of KBG in SC could become a full time job.


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

I live in Birmingham, AL and planted Rebel Exeda TTTF in my backyard in Fall of 06. It was planted on fill dirt, the previous owner had fill dirt brought in to create the backyard. It looked fantastic in the Spring, and then went dormant and got invaded by some weeds in the Summer. To my surprise, once we finally got some rain in August of 07, it greened back up and started growing again. It was a bit patchy, but aeration and overseeding by Sept 1 fixed that.

Oh, I did not water the lawn at all after June 1 because of water restrictions, and that was the summer of 2007 in Birmingham, AL where we had highs above 100 for 10 days in a row. Late afternoon shade is key, but it can be done for sure.


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

Bill, bluegrasses from 50 years ago do not perform like the "elite" bluegrasses of today. Today Kentucky Bluegrasses are MUCH more tolerant of heat and drought. There's no doubt that the more north you are the easier it's to grow. The same goes for warm season grasses that are grown in the transsition zone.

My experience tells me that my Northen exposure Kentucky Bluegrass is the best adapted grass in my home site. No other grass can handle stress like it. A southern exposure is a bit more of a challange, but it can still be done if irrigation and proper soils are available.

As far a water is concern, my elite bluegrass performed better than most of my neighbor's TTTF lawns in the early summer of 2006 during a drought. There are variables like soil types, fertilizations, and sun exposure than can make a lawn more adapted to a particular climate.

I say to hostalover67 is to try Bluegrass and Fescue in the fall and see how it does during the summer; I certainly would.

Where in NC are you located?

What type of lawn do you have?


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

Thank you ALL for your thoughtful responses! I just checked back in here and was surprised to find more responses. This decision has been on the back burner the last few months as we've been working hard on finishing our new house (we are owner-builders).

We moved in last month and are now getting ready to install the irrigation system and prepare the soil for planting.

I will be back with more after I digest all your answers!


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

OK, here is what we are considering: Planting a blend of 90% Defiance XRE TTTF with 10% Midnight Star KBG.

My next question is, when should we seed here in SC? Is late Aug/early Sept too soon? Remember we will have a sprinkler system to keep it watered. We are just anxious to get some coverage on this bare dirt!

Also, has anyone ordered seed from Seedland.com? Is it a good source for seed?


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

Great choice! I've been using Defiance XRE for years now and was planning on getting Midnight Star 2 years ago but couldn't find any at the time. I usually seed the first of October and it has always come up within 7 days like clock work. But this year since I only have a few bare areas, I plan to do it mid to late September also since the temps are moderating some. I plan on going with XRE for fescue and Spitfire for bluegrass. I've never ordered from seedland but visit their site from time to time.


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

That's great to know, Outdoorsman.

We did order the Defiance XRE/Midnight, and last evening we seeded the area over the septic field--about 1/3 of what we need to do...it is a separate area on the far side of our driveway, where our raised vegetable beds and chicken coop will eventually be.

We need to haul in some additional topsoil before seeding the main areas around the house, other than that we are ready to seed that, too. I'll keep you all updated on how it all goes.

Thanks so much y'all for your help.


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

Hostalover67,
How did the grass turn out?
I am curious because I am also trying Fescue and live where you live.
THe builder put down some Tall fescue on a blank sandy lot and we are trying to get some of it to live, and seeding also.
It isn't easy growing grass in the sand.
We are putting down composted manure and the exsisting grass is loving it.
I hope that at least the exsisting grass lives through the summer.
I am sick of all the sand.


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

The grass is coming along great! We spread about 1-2" of good black topsoil in the main parts of the lawn before seeding. Our soil is very poor and acid, so we are needing to keep after the fertilizing and lime, but it is VERY lush and green now.

Of course, the real test will be how it does through the summer. We do have a sprinkler system and a good well, so the real wild card will be how it tolerates unrelenting heat. We also do have a lot of filtered shade (pines).

I might try to get some pictures posted.


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

Well, my tall fescue all died except for a tiny bit up by the house which gets afternoon shade.
It's not growing at all, but it isn't dead yet, and it's only June.
All the disgusting weeds grew in.
I think I found a new tall fescue that doesn't brown out in the summer from the hot sun online, but if I put it down in the fall, and spend all that money, and it dies, I am going to be mad.
I spent a small fortune already buying seed, manure, soil conditioner, increased water bills, we watered it alot.
Oh well, have to wait til fall anyway.
That's the way it goes.


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

Butterfly you are in Zone 8 right? Where in zone 8? Fescue could be a loosing battle for you.


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

Texas,
I'm 14 miles north of Augusta, GA.
I have nothing but sand. Everyone here has bermuda or St. Augustine, or at least that is what the local nursery is pushing.
I was thinking about possibly Emerald zoyzia, but its so late in the season, the only green in the lawn is weeds.
At least the weeds are green and growing.
It is brand new construction, and it was just sand when we bought it, but the builder put down tall fescue and last November, it grew in a little bit.
But now, in June, it's all dead.
I guess I will have to wait til next spring to see if I can plant some zoyzia plugs, I hear they like sand.
God, lawns are alot of work, and money, and when it all dies, well, sometimes you just have to admit defeat.
Your right, I can't grow tall fescue.
All the zoyzia plugs of Emerald are all sold out now.
There's always next year, right?
Drats!


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

Im in JAX Fla. I tried a fescue..Combat Extreme it claimed to be drought resistant and ok for Hot weather. my results : Combat Extreme and JAX turns out to be a non-compat. Those vigorous and pretty young sprouts just couldnt deal with the hot florida sun. they seem to have dried out and withered like straw. I watered 3 times weekly plus we had good rains. the stuff just couldnt hang on. I dont know about the other cultivars that were slower growing though. Im just soo tired of having to babysit SA..Im going back to interspersing LaPrima XD into it.


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RE: Cool Season Grass in SC Midlands?

I'm in Columbia and have mainly Centipede. I know, it's the norm around here, but it works. It loves the sun and the heat doesn't bother it. I have tried fescue and ryegrass, but both die in the heat without watering all the time. I have St. Augustine under the trees in the shade and it does wonderful. I have noticed the St. Augustine stays greener longer than the centipede in the fall.


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