General Overview For Southern Lawns

This website deals predominently with yard care and gardening issues in the northern states of the United States. At the same time, yardeners in the South need information.

This is a general file for folks living in the South who want a quick and dirty summary of lawn care in their area. For each section in this file there is a more detailed file on each topic elsewhere in Yardener’s Helper.

When it comes to turf grass, the South is any part of the country where “warm season” grasses thrive during the summer. In contrast to their northern cousins, these grasses are at their best when soil temperatures are in the 90’s, and they go dormant and turn brown when the weather cools.

There is a “transition zone” between northern and southern turf regions, which follows the lower elevations of Virginia and North Carolina west through West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas and includes southern Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas. In this “zone” neither warm nor cool season grasses are uniformly successful. However, several of the northern or “cool season” grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass and tall fescue, do well across Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Missouri. Tall fescue is the best choice in Tennessee, North Carolina, northern Georgia, northern Alabama and the Texas panhandle. In the lower elevations of these latter states warm season grasses do well too.
In some ways, growing and maintaining a good-looking lawn in the South is more involved than in the North. Choosing grass varieties is trickier; many grass varieties do much better when started as plugs or sod than from seed, as is usually done up North. Good soil is critically important for growing a low maintenance lawn in this region. Some southern yardeners seed their existing lawns with ryegrass each fall to maintain green color during the winter months. This is called “winter overseeding.”

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