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Sod and Lawn tips for the Southwest. Everyone wants a perfect looking lawn including myself. Here are my tips for making folks say “Wow look at that lawn”!
Seed or Sod?
Seeds are less expensive but not all the seeds will germinate, birds will peck away at the seeds and it’s important to have good loamy loose soil when you spread your seeds around. Always use a broadcast spreader to spread out your seeds evenly. Most lawn seeds will germinate in about 2 weeks or so. Water daily and sometimes twice per day if you are seeding during the hot summer months.
Sod will cost more but it is instant gratification. You will have to hire a landscaper to help move and lay it in your area. When laying down sod or seed wait at least 2-3 weeks before fertilizing. In the southwest, we get lots of hot dry summer months. Water is essential for a spectacular green lawn. Installing low water grasses is best if you are looking for a good low maintenance lawn.
Low water lawns
Low water grasses for lawns are Bermuda Varieties. If you want to use seeds for a lawn try the Sahara seeds they germinate fast and tolerate poor soils. It’s important to note that Bermuda seeds or sod do not like shady conditions. Common Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) grows long runners that will become an invasive species especially in regions where there is lots of rainfall. It will grow underneath iron borders and will grow into your gardening beds.
The hybrid varieties are not as invasive and grow tighter and tend to last longer into the fall seasons. More about these Bermuda hybrid types below this post.
Buffalo grass is another low water grass. However, it does tend to grow in clumps this makes it hard if you are looking for a smooth lawn during the growing seasons.
After installation of sod
Make sure to flatten your sod down. Use a lawn roller to flatten any bumpy areas. Do not overdo this procedure. An overpacked lawn will harden the surface thus making it harder for the grass to take in water and nutrients.
Cool Seasonal Grasses
Fescue is a cool-season grass and needs more water than warm-season grass. Fescue grass should be fertilized once or twice more during the winter months.
How much water does one need for their Fescue lawn? This is the most challenging question to answer. For cool-season grasses such as fescue, rye, and bluegrass it’s about 3″ of water evenly distributed per week. Typically about every other day 20-30 minutes on a good sprinkler system.
Use a good all-purpose lawn fertilizer, an analysis of about 16-8-8 will work great or use any good lawn Fertilizer. You can also purchase Helena’s 16-8-8 at Color Your World Garden Centers.
Scott’s Turf Builder is another good fertilizer for any lawn. The problem most people face is not doing the work. Most will purchase lawn fertilizer use it once and forget about it for the rest of the year. In and around the Southwest you should fertilize your lawn at least once per month starting in late March and ending in October.
Cool-season grasses do not mind shady areas. The top two kinds of grass to use are Fescue, and Kentucky bluegrass. These types of grasses will do well underneath shade trees or on the north side of taller walls. They can also tolerate full sun but in the southwest, you will need to water more often. Every other day about 20-30 minutes on a timed sprinkler system during the mid hot summer.
Watering Warm Season Grasses
For warm-season grass such as St. Augustine grass, Zoysiagrass, Bermuda, or hybrid Bermuda, you should water about 2″ to 2 1/2″ of water about 2-3 times per week. This is during the hottest time of the year, usually June, July, and August. About 1-2 times during the spring and fall seasons.
Most lawns throughout the southwest will typically need less watering during the cooler months of the year, so please water responsibly. For established warm-season lawns, you can turn off your watering system in late November. Turn it back on in early March.
It is not how long you leave your watering system on but how much water you actually apply to your lawn. This means more water for a shorter time is more beneficial than a long period of time with less water.
You should fertilize your sod/lawn once in the spring, once in the summer, and once just before winter. For a thicker greener healthier lawn I recommend fertilizing once per month starting in late March and ending in October.
Common Bermuda image below. It can get invasive especially in regions where there is lots of rainfall. Hybrids like Tifway and Tifgreen are not as invasive.
Mowing your lawn
The blades of your lawnmower should be sharp. Dull blades will hack away at grass blades making them look brownish at the tip of the grass blades. Uneven cuts will make the grass blades harder to take in water and fertilizer. Always sharpen your blades at the beginning of the spring seasons it will help make your lawn look better than your neighbors.
Remove weeds from the lawn
No matter what type of lawn you have it’s important to remove Weeds! Those awful weeds that seem to always pop up in your lawn right around early spring.
Use Fertilome “Weed-Out Plus”. This Kills Dandelions, Clover, Crabgrass, Nutsedge, Chickweed, Spurge, and many other Lawn Weeds. Ask for it at your friendly local nursery. It really does work! Weeds will also suck up water that your grass needs.
Learn more about “How to get rid of weeds” from your landscape area.
Where to place Bermuda Grass?
Remember that Bermuda sod or grass will go into dormancy during the winter months. It likes FULL SUN. Therefore less water and maintenance. It will have a hard time growing underneath a large tree or on the northern side of tall buildings.
Placing it on the north, or east exposure of rock walls, homes, or other thick taller hedges and Bermuda grass will have a tuff time growing.
Bermuda sod, zoysia and buffalo grasses do well in the southwestern areas. So does tall Fescue but it needs more watering and maintenance.
Where to place Fescue
Fescue Sod will stay green year-round but needs more watering and maintenance. This type of sod/grass can tolerate shade it will work great underneath a large shade tree. You can also place it where there is lots of shade but does best with some early morning sun and afternoon shade.
It will cost more than most other varieties of Bermuda seed or sod. Fescue will not re-grow itself. If it dies on one spot it will look bare unless you re-sod or re-seed.
There are other types of sod that can be bought at Color Your World Garden Centers. If you live in the Las Cruces area give us a call at (575) 521-0496
Hybrid Bermuda grasses have many uses and are what most folks use throughout the southwest. Below are varieties and descriptions.
Bermuda-Tifton – Lawns-Commercial-Fields – Coarse & blends with common Bermuda
Bermuda-Tifgreen – Lawns-Commercial-Putting Greens – Blades are fine, low growing
Bermuda Tifway – Lawns-Commercial-Fairways – Medium Blades
Bermuda Santa Ana – Lawns-Commercial-Fields – Medium Blades
Fescue Advantage – Lawns-Commercial – Tolerates shade – Medium Blades
Bermuda Overseeded – Lawns-Commercial – Medium to fine Blades
Note; Not all these types of Bermuda grass will be available throughout the year.
Need to know how much sod in your landscape area? Go Here To calculate sod measurements.
Why is your neighbor’s lawn looking better than yours year after year? Because he probably uses lawn winterizer. Winterizer works on root development which will, in turn, make your lawn much thicker and greener when springtime comes around. Late fall and winter are the best times to apply winterizer try it today.
Got questions? Let us know by commenting below.
Paul Guzman – Husband, Father, Grandfather, Gardener, and Webmaster of GuzmansGreenhouse.com – Please share this post below.