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Grasses

Posted 8/9/2016

Okay, we’re hip deep in the summer heat and your lawn might be looking a little worse for wear. So what are you going to do about it? Well, that’s what I’ll be talking about this month but first I’ll discuss grasses in general.

There are three grasses that are usually used in hot climates: fescue, Bermuda and ryegrass. The odds are that you have either fescue or Bermuda because they are the most popular.

Bermuda grass is considered a warm season grass and you’ll know that you have it when your lawn turns brown in the winter. Bermuda grass is spread by rhizomes (root-like structures that run horizontally underground) so it can fill in damaged areas without reseeding. Unfortunately, those rhizomes also make Bermuda grass a bit troubling. Bermuda grass, because it can spread unseen, usually infests areas where you don’t want it to be and it’s virtually impossible to control.

Fescue, a higher water-use grass, is considered a cool season grass. It can suffer a little in our heat and thin out over time but it can remain green year round. It is a clumping grass so it will not spread to fill in damaged spots but it won’t spread uncontrollably either—any damage can be fixed by a light reseeding every 2-3 years.

Ryegrass is usually used in combination with Bermuda grass. Ryegrass will stay green in winter and go dormant just as the Bermuda grass starts to turn green in the spring.

Now here are a few easy steps to keeping your lawn looking great.

First, mow properly. Fescue should be mowed to a height of 2 ½ - 3 ½ inches while Bermuda will fare better if you cut it a little shorter — about 1- 1½ inches.

Next, water properly. Water your lawn between 4 and 7 a.m. This will prevent excess evaporation and also deter the wet conditions that can lead to fungal growth. Make sure that the sprinklers are all working properly and cover all parts of your lawn equally—excess runoff waters the sidewalk, not your lawn.

And finally, set your sprinklers to go on at intervals. Three to 4 minutes a day is a good place to start and split the time into two parts. So if you’re watering for 4 minutes a day, have your sprinklers go on for 2 minutes, then wait an hour and have them go on for another 2 minutes. This allows the water to soak into the ground. Your soil should be saturated to a depth of about 6 inches. If your lawn is growing quickly but begins to turn yellow, you’re probably overwatering. If it has a grey or brown appearance, you’re probably under watering.

So that’s it for now. I’ll discuss other things that can plague your lawn in another article.

Have other gardening questions? You can call the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Help Desk at 702-257-5555, Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The service is free.

Pat Warren is a certified Cooperative Extension Master Gardener. She started her training because of the frustration she felt trying to get something, anything, to grow in Nevada.

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