Know Your Grass

GROWING HEALTHY TURF GRASS

Most common and popular grass types are not meant to live in the climate where they are found. Furthermore, lawns usually promote a monoculture and limit diversity of both plant and animal species. Promoting healthy turf growth, however, can make your lawn attractive and environmentally-friendly.

Choose a hearty native species

Locally appropriate grasses, such as turf-type tall fescue, require low maintenance, germinate quickly, and are able to survive Ohio’s droughts. If you have a larger lawn, consider dedicating a portion of it to a no-mow lawn, ground cover or gardens.

Set a threshold for the number of non-grasses that you are willing to accept. Commonly found in seed mixes before the introduction of broadleaf herbicides, Dutch (or white) clover benefits your lawn by fixing nitrogen in the soil, thrives in clay soil, and acts as a deterrent to common soil pests.Creating a Rain Garden

NATIVE GRASSES AND SEDGES

Big Bluestem
Andropogon gerardii
Side-oats Gramagrass Bouteloua curtipendula
Gray’s Sedge
Carex grayi
Palm Sedge
Carex muskingumensis
Purple Love Grass
Eragrostis spectabilis
Virginia Wild Rye
Elymus virgatum
Soft Rush
Juncus effuses
Golden Wood Millet
Milium effusum
Deer Tongue Grass
Panicum clandestinum
Wide Leaf Sedge
Carex plantaginea
Canada Wild Rye
Elymus canadensis
Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum
Little Bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparius
Indian Grass
Sorgastrum nutans
Prairie Cord-grass
Spartina pectinata

WATER APPROPRIATELY

Light, frequent watering can actually hurt grass. Over watering and/or frequent watering will stimulate excessive top-growth and increase the need for mowing. Lawns watered too frequently also tend to develop shallow roots, which may make them more susceptible to pests and heat-drought stress. Water deeply and infrequently. Your lawn only needs approximately 1 inch of water per week, factoring in both rain and irrigation.

Northeast Ohio usually receives enough rain during the summer to eliminate the need for watering. Watering should be done no more than once every five days and should saturate the soil to 6 to 8 inches. The best time to water is before 9 A.M., after which time evaporation begins to affect water absorption. If using a sprinkler system, test to see how long you’ll need to run it. Set a tuna can in the watering zone and see how long it takes to fill the one inch can.

Use rain water. Plants prefer rain water because of its neutral pH and the absence of salt, chlorine and fluoride. Rain barrels are an easy way to collect rain water from roofs and prevent runoff from rushing straight into municipal stormwater management systems. Many local watershed and environmental organizations host workshops on how to build your own rain barrels.

Re-seed to prevent invaders. Re-seeding your lawn in early fall is a good way to re-propagate bare spots and prevent weeds from taking over. Early fall is a good time for this because the ground is still moist and warm, and there is enough time for the grass to develop before the winter weather.

Grass grows best in 4-6” of topsoil that is well-drained and filled with organic matter. You can add organic matter with compost.

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