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Choosing grass

Posted by mynormas on October 18, 2011

One of the most common question I get asked is; what type of grass should I use?

There are actually three important criteria to think about when choosing grass, and I write this in layman terms, mainly:

  1.  The condition of the area – whether it is shaded, it gets too much water (for example it is next to non-porous area e.g. road or pavement or perhaps it is out in the open with poor or no irrigation).
  2. The budget for future maintenance of the grassed area and
  3. The use of the grassed area; simply whether it is more for aesthetics or more as a playing field. In the golf course, this question will also refer to whether that area is a green or a rough.

Now for home-owners (and I get a lot more questions from these people) I usually tell them the order of priority will be 1. The condition of the area; 2. The budget and time they are willing to spend on maintenance and 3. The use; whether the lawn is for impressing passers-by or is it for grandchildren to play on? Stuff like that.

The Bermuda carpetgrass planted at cost under the bamboo? Dead. The Cowgrass that came on its own for free? Nice. Lesson? Use cowgrass under shade.

For golf courses, playing fields, stadiums and large areas like municipal councils, the order of priority is reversed: I ask them to think of what is the use of the area – whether it is for greens, for tees, for out-of-play areas,

football, picnic, or whatever. Then they should think of the budget they are willing to spend for maintenance (and I would like to emphasise FOR MAINTENANCE) and lastly only about the condition of the area. Why is the order reversed? Because, for these kind of construction, the condition can be modified, trees can be moved, or the green can be redesigned away from the large 100 year-old tree, for instance.

Most of these owners, be them developers, local government or large bungalow owners etc, will have a huge budget during construction but when it comes to routine daily maintenance; they scrimp and save.

Zoysia is a nice grass but needs to be cut once a week - at least. If you can't afford to do that, why use it?

So what I advise is: design and pick plants for the place so that it will be cheap and easy to maintain in the future! Naturally,  people want the best and most designers/contractors who are paid by percentage don’t mind at all to oblige.

But I digress. The world of grass is divided into three main areas; warm-season and cool-season. The third area? What is termed as the transition zone area, this area is cold enough in the winter to make it difficult to maintain warm-season grasses and warm enough in the summer to make it difficult to grow cool-season grasses, therefore, no single species of grass is well adapted in this region.

So there are only two types of grasses; warm-season and cool-season grasses. In the transition zone areas, they will use quick growing cool-season grasses in the autumn and early winter and warm-season grasses in spring/summer.

What are the characteristics of warm season grasses? They thrive in air temperatures from 27 – 35 degrees Celsius and soil temperatures of 21 – 32 degrees Celsius. They’ll lose chlorophyll in autumn and turn from green to brown.

Cool-season grasses grow very well when soil temperature is between 10 – 18 degrees Celsius and air temperatures a cool 15 – 24 degrees Celsius.

Tall fescue is a cool-season grass

Other than those, there are of course a few other things that should be taken into consideration too. Soil types, quality of water for irrigation – in fact, quantity of water too; there are a few other things if we want to go into details. But lets leave it at that for now.


Weights and Measures, Metric Conversions Weights and Measures,
Metric Conversions


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