Saturday, October 28, 2006

Lawn Challenge Course _ Lesson 1

Here is the First in a new Series of 8 Lessons on Lawn Care from the University of Illinois. Check it out... terry

"Know Your Lawn Grass
Factors Involved in Choosing Lawn Grasses

Choosing the right grass is key to achieving an attractive lawn.
With the many lawn grasses described in gardening magazines and books, how do you choose which is best for lawns in northern Illinois? The choice depends largely on characteristics of the grass and the intended site for it to grow. Grasses vary in growth habit, appearance quality, ease and rate of establishment, maintenance needs, adaptability to shade, wear tolerance, ability to recover from damage, cold hardiness, susceptibility to pests and diseases, and other factors.

Consider a variety of factors when choosing a grass for your lawn, including:

How much light is available on the site? Full sun areas dictate use of different grasses than areas receiving shade from trees or buildings.
Are there problem areas within the site, such as slopes facing south or west (more heat stress), poor drainage, or heavily used areas (lots of traffic)?
What is the anticipated level of maintenance (fertilizing, watering, pest control) the lawn will receive? Grasses can be classified as high, medium, and low maintenance.
What standards of quality are desired? In general, high anticipated quality usually means higher maintenance requirements while fair to moderate anticipated quality usually calls for less maintenance.
What are the expected costs? In addition to the initial establishment costs, there are ongoing maintenance costs. Higher maintenance levels mean higher costs.
Ideally, all of these factors would be considered prior to putting in the lawn. However, reviewing these factors can also be useful when evaluating existing lawns that have chronic problems. Consider that the source of the problems may be the wrong grass for the site.

Unattractive lawns like this may be the result of using the wrong grass for the site.
Specific grasses are outlined in the following screens. Each species has a specific growth habit. Bunch-type grasses grow in clumps and spread very little via tillers from the base of the plant, so do not readily recover from damage or fill-in bare areas on their own. Other grasses either have rhizomes, stems that grow horizontally underground; or stolons, horizontal stems that grow above the soil surface. Grasses with either of these types of growth can readily fill-in adjoining bare areas and recover more readily when damaged."

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