Lawns, oh the sweet feel of soft cool grass underfoot. How many of you can relate? Growing up in Maine was a real treat because the Kentucky bluegrass which commonly grows up there was always soft and sweet underfoot. One of my favorite pastimes was to lay on the grass under a clear blue sky with a few white fluffy clouds to occupy my attention, and a nearby oak tree to shade me.
As much as I love lawns, I have a love/hate relationship with mine. Most really smart gardeners know to do away with the lawn all together. Forget about conventional wisdom that says you have to have a lawn. No! Just get rid of all the maintenance hogging chemical loving pain in the butt grass and go to flower beds! No flower beds? How about going native with your lawn? Anything is almost better than cultivated grass.
Why you ask? Well here in Tennessee and most of the mid-south we have a little problem. We are in a transitional zone. A transitional zone for lawn grasses is an area where either cool or warm season grasses can grow. Cool season grasses grow during the cooler months and tend to go dormant (read brown and dead) in the hot summer months. Warm season grasses grow during the warm summer months and go dormant (again read brown and dead) in the winter.
One would rationally think that we could grow both warm and cool season grasses in our lawns and have the best of both worlds. Nope. It doesn't work that way. Oftentimes lawns around this area are growing both types of grasses. You can always tell because in the winter there will inevitably be areas of brown patches amongst the green, indicating warm season grasses. In the summer it is harder to tell when a homeowner has both types of grass unless you look closely at the lawn but you can tell due to the differences in textures of the two types of grasses. Warm season grasses are generally finer bladed and very competitive with cool season grasses. Both usually remain green in the summer unless there is extreme heat and/or drought. Last summer just about everyone's cool season grass went dormant. Both types of grasses compete with each other and together do NOT make for a nice lawn in my humble opinion.
One of the major differences between the two grasses, besides their growing seasons, is the cultural care requirements of the grasses. The two grasses require different heights in mowing, and also need to be fertilized at different times. Trying to grow both types successfully in the same lawn would be a nightmare. It just will not work. One will be harmed and die out. Therefore, the homeowner is left with a choice: warm or cool season grass.
The choice is simple and based solely on the homeowners desires and ability to properly care for his or her lawn. If you want to be assured of a nice green lawn during the summer months and be assured it will turn brown in the winter, plant warm season grasses. If you prefer a nice green lawn year round with the possibility of it turning brown and thinning out in the summer, plant cool season grasses.
Whatever the choice you make, make an informed one and be prepared to adjust as the situation warrants. Both types of grasses have their advantages and disadvantages. I did a lengthy post on lawn care last fall and will not re-hash the information here, but whatever you decide to grow; choose wisely. Reestablishing a lawn is not an easy task.
Today is my youngest sister's 40th birthday. I am posting a picture of one of my favorite flowers, the camellia. Partly in honor of her birthday and partly because I like them so much. I wish this were my shrub, but it is not. My friend Lola E. grows it in her garden here in Clarksville. It is a good birthday flower and a pretty color for my sister. I don't do cards so I hope this will suffice for birthday wishes.
Happy 40th Birthday Terri-Lynn!
P.S. What type of grass is growing in the picture above? Cool or warm season? And what type of grass do you grow and why?
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