Turf in the Landscape: One size doesn’t fit all
Turfgrass generally accounts for the largest area of a planted landscape and often sets the stage for how a property presents, first impressions are everything. Choosing the right turf for your landscape will have a significant impact on how well it performs.
We can classify turf into two broad categories, warm-season and cool-season turf. As the names imply, some turfgrasses grow better in warmer climates and others in cooler. In North Carolina, we occupy a region of the country called the Transition Zone. This is an area where we are neither ideally suited to grow warm or cool season turf exclusively. Warm season turf will go dormant in the cooler, winter months and can be susceptible to cold injury or death. Cool season turf will struggle to perform in the hot, humid days of summer and in extreme heat can fail completely.
Cool season turf, specifically tall fescue, has traditionally been the ‘go-to’ choice in the landscape for our region; providing green color year-round, respectable shade tolerance and relative ease of maintenance. There are drawbacks to be mindful of. Tall fescue is a relatively high user of water compared to that of warm season turf, fungicide applications are almost required to obtain a high standard of maintenance and annual interseeding in the fall is a must (Remember the poor summer performance? Tall fescue will thin out every summer requiring new seed to be introduced to keep a thick, lush lawn).
While warm season turfgrasses have been used nearly exclusively for sports fields, golf course fairways and equestrian centers in the past, it’s beginning to gain more favor in the residential and commercial landscape. The off-color of dormant turf an be a deal breaker for many, once temperatures hit 55°F growth will slow and after a hard frost that green color we all enjoy will leave us not to return until next spring. The real draw for warm season turf is that it’s durable. Handling the summer heat with ease, newer hybrid varieties of bermuda and particularly zoysia tolerate even the coldest winters and the water usage is much lower than that of Tall fescue. Some of our clients have elected not to install irrigation at all where warm season turf is used, cutting out the capital expense of the irrigation system and the reoccurring cost of water usage. There’s a great environmental story here as well!
We’ve only hit the high spots regarding turf and what their strong and weak points are but rest assured we are here to help guide you through the myriad of choices and factors to consider. Whether starting a new construction project or breathing new life into an existing property there is a turfgrass to fit your needs.