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 Message Boards » » Switching from cool season to warm season grass Page [1]  
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play so hard
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I think I'm done with fescue, and am interested in moving to a warm season grass...any advice?

Seems like spring is the time to plant this stuff, and using plugs is most common. What's the process like?

Also let me know if I missed some pros/cons

Warm Season Pros:
Less mowing
Spreads
Durable/hardy?
Chokes out weeds?

Warm Season Cons:
Browns in the winter
Spreads into beds
Spreads into neighbors yards?

10/2/2018 11:39:59 AM

breakneck4
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I have zoysia (emerald variety) and it's fantastic. I had it sodded in April a couple years back. I haven't had problems at all with it creeping. I will say that the grass portion of my yard and my neighbors don't border but no problem keeping it where I want it. If you have a lot of shade it might not do so well and in my front yard where I have large oaks I have kept fescue but I am considering zoysia here too. I really think the only con is the dormancy and $$. Its a lush green carpet otherwise.

10/2/2018 12:28:21 PM

BobbyDigital
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couple of my raleigh friends nuked their lawns and started over with zoysia. looks phenomenal (other than winter, but really no one's outside anyway)

10/8/2018 2:31:35 PM

Jeepin4x4
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I am really debating this. I basically lost my entire yard this summer to Pythium Blight. My backyard is shaded, along with a 6' privacy fence, so it doesn't get a lot of air circulation and stays damp for some time after consistent rain. I'm just not sure if I want to try to bring back a fescue lawn only to lose it again next summer.

10/8/2018 4:07:09 PM

NeuseRvrRat
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centipede looks great if you go against popular opinion and don't cut it so damn short

10/8/2018 7:24:30 PM

PackBacker
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Zoysia looks the best, but is less durable (as far as foot traffic). Some varieties are better than others.

Bermuda (common) spreads like wildfire, looks great with maintenance, but looks crappy without it. Its very high maintenance, but cannot be killed.

Hybrid bermuda looks great, but also fairly high maintenance.


Centipede is zero maintenance, grows slow, but also isn't very hearty when it comes to things like foot traffic because its so slow growing (dogs, children, etc)

10/8/2018 8:35:25 PM

dtownral
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how is centipede in shaded damp areas? I didn't have the pythium blight but i have an area that stays fairly damp even with my drainage improvements and whatever i have in the back doesn't want to grow there

10/9/2018 7:56:33 AM

wdprice3
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Not sure on less mowing. The centipede that volunteered in my lawn needs a weekly cutting if I want it to look good full time. Bermuda can also grow quickly; I honestly think zoysia (at least in my yard) requires the least cutting.

I have some bermuda, centipede, zoysia, and fescue (other than weeds). I've only seeded fescue, so the 3 warm season grasses are all volunteers. The bermuda hasn't done well, but I haven't groomed it (well, I haven't done anything to help any of the 3 warm season grasses). The zoysia looks amazing and the centipede isn't far behind. I think I'm going to let the centipede take over and will start a maintenance plan to help it (I hope). I may take the existing centipede for plugs and help it spread to other areas. I'd love to keep the zoysia, but it's too damn slow. And the centipede will likely out-compete it once the two meet.

The "best" is dependent upon your specific conditions, but it's hard to beat zoysia, unless you have an area with heavy foot traffic. It will do fine with normal walking / play, but a commonly used walking path or running path for a dog will suffer. Downsides of zoysia is that it is expense and very slow to spread. It is very good at preventing weed intrusion.

Bermuda is great for high traffic because it's worse than a weed when it comes to spreading. Though for a great looking lawn, bermuda may be the most care-dependent as you really need to groom bermuda until it's well established, then typical maintenance will do. With proper maintenance and weed control, bermuda does well to keep weeds out, though I don't think quite as well as zoysia.

Centipede probably falls in the middle and is quickly becoming my future choice of grass. It's cheaper and spreads quicker than zoysia, but it's not a PITA to control like bermuda. It does a decent job of preventing weed intrusion, as long as the turf is healthy (not as good as zoysia, but better than bermuda I think). The downsides of centipede are that it is the most susceptible of the three to winter kill (freezing of roots when going into / coming out of dormancy) and herbicidal weed control is difficult, as most weed killers also damage / kill centipede.

Yes, all three are dormant in the winter and require a weed control program if you don't want winter weeds or summer weeds to become problematic. None do great in the shade though.

I recommend sodding or plugging. Seeding is now an option with all 3 (there is at least 1 seeded cultivar of zoysia now); but it's a challenge and risky, especially given the cost of seed. Trying to germinate seeds through NC summers is a difficult task; not impossible, but hard - you need the right amount of shade, high quality soil, and sufficient moisture. Miss any of those and you just spent a lot of money on bird food.

Sodding is generally too expensive unless you have a small yard (1/4 ac); I recommend sodding in a checkerboard pattern; you can do small zones of checkerboards to limit the amount of sod needed (e.g. leave some space between something like a 10x10 checkerboard). Be sure to till all areas and fill areas between the pieces of sod so that you don't have dips and raises.

For even cheaper, you can plug these grasses in a grid - slower to take over, but cheaper to start with. This is especially true if you do some checkerboards one year to get a good start, then take plugs from that in subsequent years to fill in other areas.

[Edited on October 9, 2018 at 11:19 AM. Reason : I cut all my grass at about 3 - 3.5", BTW]

10/9/2018 11:17:58 AM

Jeepin4x4
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I have started thatching my lawn and with my dogs running in the back yard they've brought up a lot of the old sod netting. Does this stuff ever breakdown and go away or am i better off trying to cut it all out? I have been cutting the pieces they pull up during their runs.

10/9/2018 12:02:18 PM

wdprice3
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Uh, sod netting? I don't know that I've seen sod with netting. Sounds like erosion control matting was put down and the lawn was likely seeded. If it's thin green wire (like fishing line), then it takes a long time for it to degrade as it's plastic - sunlight helps, but once it's buried, it tends to stay around. Just cut exposed pieces when they pop-up. Don't pull it up, as you'll likley yank out grass and roots.

10/9/2018 12:34:27 PM

dtownral
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can you get centipede growing in clay soils?

10/9/2018 2:11:01 PM

wdprice3
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it can, especially if you help it (acidic, no nitrogen). but if it's wet, probably not. I have a lot of clay and the centipede isn't showing signs of stopping. But it hasn't gotten to the wet areas yet.

10/9/2018 5:40:39 PM

PackBacker
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wdprice3

Are you sure what you have is centipede and zoysia?

Centipede is about the most slow growing grass there is (hence why its called lazy mans grass). You should be able to go a few weeks without mowing.

Zoysia does not grow wild and must be sodded (a few varieties can be seeded, but unless your neighbor has it, I dont see how it got in your yard).

Centipede is a great grass to grow in full sun. Will not do well in shade and will not do well under a lot of traffic (kids playing in the yard, pacing dogs, etc). Bermuda is the devil. I'd do zoysia if I could seed it, but its really really expensive. (Zenith and El Toro zoysia can be seeded, along with a few others IIRC)

[Edited on October 9, 2018 at 7:12 PM. Reason : ]

10/9/2018 7:11:23 PM

NeuseRvrRat
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some sod definitely has netting in it

10/9/2018 7:56:45 PM

quiksilver
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Sod definitely often has netting. I’ve got a lawn with mostly bermuda in raleigh and have attempted to fill in some areas where the oaks shade has crushed my Bermuda with fescue.. I have had limited success but some none the less. My parents in eastern NC have had good luck with zozia (sp) and centipede. But ummm yea ive most definitey seen netting under sod. I just assumed it was always part of laying sod. Also , i dont mow my own lawn. I have a HOA that mows and sets their mowers low so they crush my fescue when i grow it if i dont rope it off for long enough to keep em off it as they have a mandate from the HOA tells em to kill it! Ive tried to make friends with my lawn crew but yea... Its a sensative grass in early days. Good luck!

Oh and the clay here sucks for growing grass so ive dug out the dead spots and filled with compost and soil. In the really bad dead spots with a lot of success. Its a pain in the ass but not as much as dumping a bunch of seed into clay and seeing it no have a chance to ever grow.

[Edited on October 9, 2018 at 9:15 PM. Reason : Clay sucks]

[Edited on October 9, 2018 at 9:21 PM. Reason : .]

10/9/2018 9:07:28 PM

wdprice3
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Quote :
"Are you sure what you have is centipede and zoysia? "


Yes, and so is NC Extension, and Fairway Green. And I certainly did not seed or sod either. Either some seed from a neighbor (though no neighbors have lawn of either species, though they may have tried at some point) or some bird dropping a sprig or seed got into my yard. Both showed up a few years ago without my help.

Interesting about netting in sod; I've never bought any that had netting, or I didn't notice it.

[Edited on October 12, 2018 at 12:57 PM. Reason : .]

10/12/2018 12:50:18 PM

Bullet
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Quote :
"Am I an idiot for trying to plant Fescue today? This crazy weather seems to be cooling down quicker than I anticipated."

10/16/2018 1:56:52 PM

Bobby Light
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^thanks for reposting! I didnt see this thread.

Regardless, all the work is now done It will be what it will be.

10/16/2018 5:11:08 PM

Bullet
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I was curious because I did the same thing. It was almost 90 degrees early last week, now it's going to get down in the 30s this weekend.

10/17/2018 8:46:57 AM

CarZin
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I grew Centipede FROM SEED at one of my properties in clay soil that was acidic. Probably saved me about $2000 over sod, but if I had to do it again, I would have gone sod just to have it done. If you seed, water it for 10 minutes twice a day for about a month. All it needs is to be moist, and it will grow. It took two seasons to be totally covered, but by the end of 1, it looked really good.

Advantages are that it chokes out weeds, does not grow high, and doesn't need fertilizers. If you do something stupid and kill a section, it will grow back. Requires little to no water when established. I only water it in the middle of the hottest part of summer.

10/17/2018 4:40:38 PM

synapse
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^ nice. where did you get the seed?

was there fescue existing? did it choke it out?

[Edited on October 18, 2018 at 11:37 AM. Reason : thanks for the info everyone...wondering if warm season is actually more maintenance friendly than fescue]

10/18/2018 11:36:35 AM

wdprice3
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^centipede will choke out almost any weeds. Not 100%, but generally close enough.

Quote :
"Am I an idiot for trying to plant Fescue today? This crazy weather seems to be cooling down quicker than I anticipated."


eh, not the worst time, but not great either. Keep the soil moist and hope we don't hit freezing for a while. As long as day time temps stay 60s+ you'll be OK.

[Edited on October 18, 2018 at 4:08 PM. Reason : .]

10/18/2018 4:06:55 PM

shoot
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I'm thinking about doing this as well. My lawn backyard used to be great, but now it's attacked by moss heavily.

10/18/2018 4:12:47 PM

Jeepin4x4
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going to reseed this weekend. i have some spots of crabgrass. should i treat these areas or just let the winter season kill it off? what should i use?

10/18/2018 4:50:36 PM

dtownral
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my front yard is centipede- i've read that it doesn't like to be overseeded with rye because it stresses it in the spring, but a previous owner seeded a perennial rye grass but it always looks patchy when it comes in. should i overseed with an annual rye grass or something so it doesn't look so bad or should i try to kill the perennial rye grass or anything?

10/18/2018 4:53:38 PM

shoot
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I have both front yard and back yard to take care about. Man, lots of work.

10/18/2018 4:57:02 PM

wdprice3
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^^I wouldn't overseed any warm season grass. It takes up nutrients, provides some unneeded competition (though weak comparatively) and can delay greening. It adds nothing but some spotty green over the winter; a well maintained warm season grass doesn't look horrible in winter unless you have a phobia of tan colors.

That, and centipede doesn't really go dormant, it just browns below 50* (or somewhere in there).

If it were me, I'd try to get rid of the perennial rye.


^^^getting late to overseed (fescue, I assume), but good luck. If you're going to reseed now, then I wouldn't do anything about weeds, as weed killer may / will prevent seed germination. Use pre-emergent in late winter / early spring.

[Edited on October 18, 2018 at 8:26 PM. Reason : .]

10/18/2018 8:25:38 PM

dtownral
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Is there any way to kill the perennial rye, or should I just hope it eventually all gets starved out

10/18/2018 8:29:05 PM

Jeepin4x4
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^^is it that late? I thought the deal was to wait for the soil temperatures to get into the 60s? This has been our first week under 80/90.

10/19/2018 8:38:17 AM

wdprice3
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^^You can try to kill it; look on the labels for weed killers that are safe for centipede and see if perennial rye is listed on any. I don't know that it is. It may eventually be outed by the centipede, but seeing as how rye is coming into it's season in fall - spring (the opposite of centipede), it may take a while. How much rye do you have?

^Yes, fescue germinates best with soil temps in 50s - 60s (day air temps 60 - 75). So in that regard seeding now seems fine. However, with the typical wild NC weather and young grass, an early freeze can easily kill new fescue with shallow roots. That's my primary concern. That, and even without an early freeze, an early cool down can put fescue into winter dormancy (soil temps below 50). Ideally, fescue seeding in NC should be done in mid to late September, with a range of end of august to beginning of October, adjusting water as needed - fescue will germinate with good results in that date range (in NC); assuming no extreme events (heavy rains, freezes, scorching heat). fescue typically germinates in 14 days, but the roots are fairly shallow for a couple of months. To survive winter freezes and drought, you generally want at least a couple of months worth of growth. Add any stressors during germination / early growth, and that may extend the maturation process even further.

I found some interesting germination vs seeding data a while back. It showed a significant drop in germination (like 90 to 20%) between Sept 1 and Oct 1 seedings (assessed on Dec 1). Though I think this for a cooler climate (maybe upper midwest); I would expect NC to be more like 90 to 50% for the same dates; maybe better.

[Edited on October 19, 2018 at 10:12 AM. Reason : .]

10/19/2018 10:09:58 AM

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