Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lawns-Ah the Sweet Grass and Happy Birthday!

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?

in the garden....


  1. Happy Birthday Terri-Lynn!
    Welcome to Club 40...

    Beautiful flowers on the Camellia. And that cake looks yummy too!

    I am going to take a stab at the grass being cool grass since the picture is dated April and it is still cool. Our warm weather grass is not completely green yet and we are several weeks ahead of you...

    I can remember my brother and I laying on the grass and making things from the clouds and our little child imaginations! I still do that on a beautiful blue sky day with puffy white clouds when we are at the lake!

    Have you heard of painting grass in the winter? I read an article in our paper a while back about a guy that has come up with a paint that does not harm the environment and has the color of real grass! This would be for lawns such as ours which goes completely dormant in the winter! The price was on the moon so not going to do it on my yard!

    Have a good day all…

  2. Happy Birthday, sis! That was a very well written post on the dilemma we face with the type of grass to grow here in TN. We have chosen a mix of blue grass and rebel II, I don't even know what that is, but I would like to have all blue grass. Our lawn is partially shaded in the morning, then more sun in the later afternoon. That makes it hard to wait until the grass is dry to mow, I don't like to mow in the heat of the day, so I just mow it wet. Yuck.

  3. We are very lucky with our grass in Maine, I think. The reason I feel that way....The Peach Tree State of Georgia. When I lived there oh how I hated the grass. It was so dry and prickly and it was my first experience of grass not being soft as cotton so I still have vivid memories of it.
    Sends shivers down my spine!! It was not for bare feet for sure!!!!

    Tina I hate to tell you this but Terri-Lynn's birthday is actuall tomorrow so you jumped the gun by a day. My goodness have I been picking on you lately or what. Good thing you know I love you anyway huh?

    BTW....our grass is green now and it now needs mowing and the mower is not even out of the shed.

  4. Ah, grass. It has been our only real frustration with our new home. The home is only four years old and the grass hadn't really been established by the previous owners - we have a huge obstacle to overcome with it. The front yard already looks 100% better thanks to my hubby's tireless efforts to dethatch, overseed, weed & feed, etc etc. Now that we have that pretty much out the way a year later, we are now going to focus on our backyard. Which is a muddy mess when it rains due the lack of grass..we have patches over more than 70% of our backyard...sigh. He has already brought in a small truck load of topsoil and is actually going to be working on spreading the topsoil out and seeding the backyard today (his day off). I am a HUGE fan of putting in more and more plants - bushes, trees and flowers to help lessen our total square footage that actually needs grass..but we don't have quite enough yet to live completely without it - plus I am not sure how our HOA would feel about having no lawn at all. :)

  5. My grass isn't quite green yet but it is SURE ready to be raked, it's so matted with the dead stuff from the winter. Ugh.
    I didn't know Tenn has such a complex issue with it being a transitional state, that's interesting.....

  6. Thanks Tina for the birthday wishes - either today or tomorrow:)

    I think I've gotten to the point where I can't get away with "I'm turning 30...again"

    The grass is growing out of control here. I just got back from the vet and getting tick medicine for my dogs and mom's. I've been picking 3 - 4 ticks off all the dogs after our walks or even after being in the back yard with the lush green grass!

  7. I'll take the cool season grasses any day over the Bermudas! Even if I have to leave it high in the summer I don't want to fight the runners in the garden beds.

    Happy Birthday Terri-Lynn!


    You could use the argument that less grass to mow means less lawn mower sounds in the neighborhood to disturb people.

  8. Hi Skeeter! Making forms out of clouds is a lovely pasttime even when you are grown! My lawn is indeed cool season grass. Like Dave, can't deal with the runners and I want green wintertime grass.

    I have heard of painting grass. Some kind of eco friendly thing? Kind of strange to me, but then Mr. Fix-it thinks it okay to take out grass and put in green concrete so I guess to each their own.

    Frances, You have cool season grass too. Both bluegrass and Rebel are cool season with Rebel being tall fescue. I love them both and use Rebel too. I hate waiting for my lawn to dry too. But you really should. Good thing you have a small area.

    Mom, I hated you telling me tomorrow is Terri-Lynn's birthday too. You know I know Joanne's is on the 24 and Terri's is on the 25th. I always remembered them because Joanne is older so I thought it strange her birthday was on a smaller number, but I guess I got mixed up. I was so worried I would forget I had to put it on here right away and I was SO stressing about it last night-late and I was so tired. Good thing you love your firstborn anyhow? Right? Grass in Maine is the best. Mainly Kentucky bluegrass like Frances likes. I like it too but grow all tall fescue.

    SuzyQ, Take out the lawn and put in all garden beds! It is the new 'in' thing. Dave recommends it and Frances has pretty much done it too. I may at some point. The HOA might just be ok. The easiest best way to have a good looking lawn is to mow properly. That sound easy but it isn't. I hope yours gets growing full and strong soon. Do you have warm season or cool? I know warm season grows well in Indiana but I hate it! I hope you have cool season but I bet you have warm season. btw. I loved the stat counter post. You know you simply said what people are doing so you should not be bothered at all. People will still read and do you know sometimes they come back just for the talk! But you can put them on the spot. Did you delete the post? I say stand by it but it IS YOUR blog.

    Dawn, Don't you remember our nice grass growing up? Yours will come in soon-get out there and rake!

    Terri-Lynn, Thank you so much for not being too upset with your oldest sister's bad memory. See my entry to mom for my many excuses. Happy 40th. Some say that is a hard one but I loved mine because I retired-with a pension at the young age of 40! Do you see how we talk each day? Mom, Dawn and sometimes Christine? It can be addictive though-beware.

    Three ticks and counting-on ME! The dogs have had only one and I have treated them. Sure wish I could be treated. They are everywhere. I did not know you had such a problem with them there. Time to get the mower out. Ticks love long green grass and ornamentals. They just hang out waiting for a warm host to climb aboard. I have to wear shorts to find mine. Bad bad thing those ticks.

    Dave, You touched upon the bane of all gardeners in the south. The dreaded Bermuda and its darned twiny can't kill it no matter what growth. Geri fights it daily. Her neighbor loves his Bermuda. Quite a problem for a gardener. I meticulouosly have dug mine out by hand. I have it pretty much under control or gone now. Yahoo! Are you blessed with cool season grass or the dreaded Bermuda in your new house? I so hope cool season!

  9. Yup, Joanne on the 24th, Terri-Lynn
    on the 25, Dawn on the 29th. All outta order in the age verses date.
    And my first born? The odd ball on the 10th!

  10. Tina,

    I commented earlier but it didn't post! Anyway....happy birthday Terri Lynn. Jean, my sister's name is Teresa Lynn!

    It is a dilemma this grass business, I still think of it as a big mono-culture that uses resources and adds to I throw in clover, daisies, native grasses and sedges.
    But it is pretty all greened up!


  11. Hey Gail, I bet your area is nice. Does hubby work on the lawn or you?

  12. Hi Tina --happy birthday to your babu sister:) The whole grass thing confuses the heck out of me --I think I'll stick with just mowing what I have --and hoping it stays green this year. Another busy day --when it's warm there is so much more to do. Hubby has friends coming over for dinner so I have to get going --hopefully I'll see you all later, if not know I'll be thinking of you. Have a great night y'all!

  13. Tina,

    If I cajole he might mow the grass but he doesn't care and never got into lawn worshipping. He has no interest in lawn/yard toys!

  14. I am sure will work towards having all flower beds one of these days (we have already planted well over 50 plants in the year we have lived here so far) I can't say no to a giveaway plant or a 75% off plant so they all find a home in my day it will be all flower beds I am sure - thank you for the encouragement though!

    I am not sure what our HOA rules are against that kind of lawn though. I know we can't have dandylions (we are clearly breaking that one) and our grass is never supposed to get over 6 inches tall...have done that once or twice and we are supposed to have at leas 8 bushes in front of a specific variety and two trees that are at least 4 ft tall....crazy specific rules BUT I don't remember seeing anything about having a front yard full of flower beds. :)

    Also, I have no clue what kind of grass we have - warm or cool. I let hubby buy the grass - that is his domain. I have my flowers and bushes and things - he has the grass. LOL. I will ask him though.

  15. Thank you all for the birthday wishes.

    Tina - the day is just a day, but the thought is what counts.

    I enjoyed today and will try to get on more. I'm just not a computer person except for work and school work and I even hate that!

  16. Anonymous, Have fun tonight!

    Gail, Since hubby doesn't have any interest in the lawn but is good at getting dinner :), do you have a great interest in the lawn like with your garden?

    Suzyq, You are too funny! Your grass has gotten over over 6 inches? I hope they didn't cite you for it. lol That is a crazy rule to have to have 8 bushes of a specific variety? Wow. Must be a nice neighborhood but not much variety. You may need to shake it up with some flower beds. I liked the video of the cats and the two dogs begging to get in. Sounds like mine. It was sweet. Do ask hubby what kind of grass you have. I was wondering if warm season does well up there. It definitely does in E'ville. Too well as it invades garden beds!

  17. Terri-Lynn, I am so glad you visited and your 40th is a really big deal. I always do think of my sisters on their birthdays and I hope yours is the best. I am sure Sandra is hating that she had to miss it but she'll be home soon enough. Christine visits and she found it neat how the conversations continue on. Kind of a neat thing blogs and the web in general. So much to see and do! Skeeter says it best, you could spend all day watching tv but why not learn and talk on the computer? Mom has such a good time and we all enjoy talking. Long winded as always. Gotta work on that. ttyl and Happy Birthday!

  18. Nina must be enjoying her time with her granddaughter and I wonder what day her b-day is. If you get on for a quick glance Nina tell Sara your blogging friends wish her a great birthday!

    Sandra called today and they saw the Pope today. They leave to come home in the morning so the kids are planning on staying up all night and sleeping on the plane. Don't know if she meant all 15 kids or just some of them. They get to Portland around midnight.

    Too funny Gail. Too bad we did'nt all live near each other. It would be neat for the 8 of you "girls" to get together and talk about what it was like to be in a family of 4 girls or maybe not. LOL Esp. back when most people had 1 bathroom and 1 TV and 1, maybe 2 phones. Oh my goodness, those teen years. The walls would be shaking!!!

  19. It seems when I meet someone else from a family of all girls, we have alot in common. Geri is also from a family of all girls. Teresa Lynn, now that is a coincidence. Guess Sandra will make her mom's birthday afterall.

  20. Happy b-day to your sis.

    I'd guess it is cool season grass as well. We have cool season grasses here (for somewhat obvious reasons I think!). We have had to establish 3 lawns. At least I've gotten plenty of practice. Cheesehead and I both take care of the lawn, but I usually leave the mowing to him since I am in charge of the weeds.

  21. Cinj, You would definitely have cool season grasses like my family in Maine. Lucky YOU warm season won't do well there at all! I hate warm season. So you are in charge of the weeds? Do they listen? lol I have the honor of being in charge of the weeds AND mowing AND weedwhacking and the weeds never listen!