Lawn Care For Dummies book cover

Lawn Care For Dummies

By: Lance Walheim and National Gardening Association Published: 02-12-1998

Only one thing is standing between you and a fabulous lawn: It's called Lawn Care For Dummies. If you want a spiffy and well-coifed lawn (and not the overgrown, unruly one that people comment on when they pass by your house), you'll find everything you need to know to help you make your lawn the most dazzling spectacle on the block.

Let authors Lance Walheim and the gardening experts at the National Gardening Association treat you and your yard to a megadose of lawn care information. In Lawn Care For Dummies, Walheim and the NGA give you the dirt on all the essentials, including how to
* Design a low-maintenance or a high-maintenance lawn
* Evaluate the pros and cons of planting a lawn from seed or starting one from sod
* Discover how often you need to water your lawn without under-watering it or waterlogging it
* Choose a mower that's right for your grass type
* Deal effectively with wicked weeds and pesky insects
* Create alternative lawns, such as ground cover plants, decks, and patios
Lawn Care For Dummies also features a beautiful color insert with photos illustrating the various types of lawns found in yards across the world.

Articles From Lawn Care For Dummies

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45 results
45 results
How to Lay Sod for a New Lawn

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

Laying sod is a gratifying experience—you get a new, green lawn in no time! The time to lay sod is early morning before it gets too hot. The soil in the planting area should be moist, not soggy or dry. Water thoroughly one or two days before the sod is delivered so that the top several inches of soil are wetted. Then allow time for the soil to drain so that it’s not muddy and is workable.

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Choosing a Warm-Season Grass

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

If you live in a warm climate, you should choose from among these commonly used warm-season grasses: Bahia grass, common and hybrid Bermuda grass, centipede grass, St. Augustine grass, and zoysia grass. Whether you live in Florida or California, chances are that your lawn has one or a combination of these grasses growing in it: Bahia grass: Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum) is a tough, coarse grass that roots deeply and extensively. This grass sends out runners that can help stabilize erosion-prone soil. Bahia grass is low-growing and forms a tough, open turf that resists thatch. Bahia grass has excellent wearability, but gets a high-maintenance rating in the mowing department. You need to mow frequently with sharp blades. Bahia grasses are shade-tolerant, moderately drought-tolerant, and do well in sandy or infertile soils of the southern coastal plains of the United States. These grasses stay green longer than most of the warm-season grasses over the winter months. Bermuda grasses: You can choose from two Bermuda grasses: Common Bermuda grass: Common Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) is a medium green, medium- to fine-textured turf. The grass roots deeply and spreads quickly, making it heat- and drought-tolerant. The rapid spreading can cause a problem of invasion into unwanted areas if not kept in check. This turf has excellent wearability, however, it doesn’t do well in shade and turns brown in winter until daytime temperatures reach a consistent 60 degrees F. Common Bermuda grass grows well in poor soils. Hybrid Bermuda grass: The hybrid Bermuda grasses (Cynodon dactylon crossed with C. transvaalensis) are softer, denser, greener, and more finely textured than the common Bermuda grasses. Hybrid Bermuda grass is heat-loving, fast-growing, drought-tolerant, and very durable, making it a good choice for high-traffic lawns. The hybrid types are more disease- and pest-resistant than common Bermuda grass, but thatch buildup can become a problem. Centipede grass: Centipede grass (Eremochloa ophiuroides) is a medium- to fine-textured, light green grass that spreads by creeping stolons. This grass has shallow roots, making it only moderately tolerant to drought, slow to fill in as a lawn, and slow to recover from wear and tear. Centipede grass is not a high-traffic-area grass. However its good resistance to disease and pests make it a good, low-maintenance lawn grass. It’s one of the first of the warm-season grasses to turn brown in hot, dry weather and to go dormant with the arrival of winter. This grass tolerates moderate shade, but doesn’t tolerate the salt from sea spray. Centipede grass can turn yellow in alkaline soils that lack iron, but greens up with applications of iron sulphate or iron chelate. St. Augustine grass: St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is a fast-growing, deep-rooted, coarse to medium-textured grass with broad, dark green leaves. The grass spreads rapidly by surface runners that form a thick, dense turf, giving this grass an A for wearability. This grass is quite popular in southern climates, from Florida to California, because of its tolerance to heat, sun, shade, and salt. St. Augustine grass can grow in most soils, but prefers well-fertilized, well-drained, alkaline soil. St. Augustine grass is susceptible to brown patch, mole crickets, sod webworm, chinch bugs, and a virus called St. Augustine Decline (SAD, for short). Zoysia grass: Zoysia grasses are fine- to medium-textured, dark green, and moderately deep rooted. The blades are wiry, making them the least comfortable lawn for barefooted traffic. You generally plant zoysias by plugs, which may take two seasons to fill in your lawn space. However, when the plugs spread out and the space gets covered, you end up with a fairly low-maintenance lawn that can withstand high traffic. When properly cared for, zoysias are fairly pest- and disease-resistant when compared to other warm-season grasses. However, brown patch, dollar spot, armyworms, billbugs, and sod webworms can occasionally create problems if you slack off on maintenance. Ditto thatch. The Native Grasses: North America’s native American grasses are growing in popularity among more environmentally conscious lawn lovers because of their lack of demands on precious resources and labor. For the most part, native grasses need little water once established, very little fertilizer, and a haircut only a few times a year. The two most popular warm-season native grasses are blue grama and buffalo grass: Blue grama: Although this grass goes dormant, it tolerates extreme heat and cold and does well in the arid regions of the Central Plains. Blue grama is very drought-tolerant and offers moderate wearability, but is slow to recover from wear damage. Buffalo grass: Buffalo grass is drought-tolerant once established and becomes even more so if mowed infrequently and high. This grass thrives in areas that receive only 10 to 15 inches of rain a year, but will go brown if allowed to go completely dry. More lawnlike in appearance than other natives, buffalo grass is becoming quite popular in drought-prone regions. However, it’s expensive to plant, whether by seed, sod, or plug.

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Choosing Between Portable Sprinklers or In-Ground Irrigation Systems

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Choosing an irrigation system is about convenience, efficiency, and water conservation. Deciding on portable sprinklers or an in-ground irrigation system basically comes down to cost versus time and convenience. Portable sprinklers aren’t necessarily the most efficient system to use to water your grass. You know — hooking up the oscillating or impulse sprinklers, dragging the hose all over the lawn, watching the clock, and trying to remember when you should move the sprinkler to a different part of the lawn. Because your lawn should be watered in the morning, are you willing to get up in predawn hours to start the process? Then there’s the question of how you’re going to drag that sprinkler over your new lawn. You’ll turn that nice smooth ground into the lunar surface. Portable sprinklers also can be difficult to adjust and point so that the lawn gets evenly watered without wetting the sidewalk or street. The goal isn’t to turn the street gutters into rivers. Portable sprinklers water areas unevenly, and a lot of the water gets lost to evaporation as the sprinklers throw the water up into the air to fling it far and wide. The secret to getting a great looking lawn while conserving precious water is to evenly moisten the root zone without filling the street gutters. Even if you have the best lawn soil in the world, soil can absorb water only at a certain rate. If you deliver water faster than the soil can absorb it, you get runoff — a big waste. Permanent, in-ground irrigation systems usually send up light misty sprays of water that you can aim carefully. The soil absorbs water slowly over a longer period of time. You get more bang for your buck because you use less water to get a better-looking lawn. Don’t forget! Your time is valuable, too. With an automatic timer controller installed on your irrigation system, you can water your lawn well and wisely even when you aren’t home. You can even install moisture-sensoring devices that withhold watering during times when rainfall is doing an adequate job. The only drawback to an in-ground irrigation system is that it can be rather expensive — more expensive if you hire a professional to install it and less expensive if you do it yourself. But a permanent in-ground system, properly installed and maintained, is an asset for you and your home’s value, just like a new bathroom or a sun porch. If you need to water your lawn and you can afford it, an in-ground irrigation system is the best choice for you. You may save a little money on your water bill, and you can definitely increase the value of your real estate. In addition, your lawn will look lovely. Naturally, if you live in an area where summer rainfall is plentiful and you need to water your lawn only a couple times during dry spells, a permanent irrigation system may not make sense. The same is true if you have a small lawn.

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Connecting a Lawn Irrigation System to a Home Water Supply

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Connecting your lawn irrigation system to the plumbing system in your house is one of the final steps of installation. The water for your lawn irrigation system has to come from somewhere, so you need to hook your system to the house water supply. Tapping into the water supply is one part of the installation that you should really get help on from a professional installer or plumber. Making a mistake with your plumbing system can be expensive when you have to call in the professionals to fix it. First, turn off the main water supply to the house unless you want to have a huge gigantic gusher of a mess. The kids may like it, but you won’t. The following list shows three ways to tap into the water supply: Tap the outside faucet. Unscrew the outside faucet and install a 1-inch galvanized or copper tee fitting facing down. Screw the faucet back on to the tee. Below the tee, install a shutoff valve and then run pipe to the manifold and your irrigation system. This is probably the least complicated junction. Tapping the main line. Cut a section out of your main line and install a compression tee fitting. Run the pipe a few inches away and install a shutoff valve. Then run pipe to your manifold. Tapping the basement water meter. Just past the water meter, cut into the line and install a compression tee. From there, run a short line and install a shutoff valve. Run pipe up to the trench level outside and drill a hole through the basement wall. Run pipe out to the manifold. The manifold is a grouping of control valves that connects the water source to the system and controls the flow of water to each circuit. Following your manufacturer’s instructions, attach the various pipes to the control valves at the manifold by using pipe tape (white tape that you wrap around the treads to prevent the connection from leaking). Attach the pipes carefully — not so tight that you damage the threads and cause the pipes to leak. After you have the entire irrigation system attached to the manifold and the main water line, you’re heading down the stretch to the finish line. Attach the risers. Cut the pipe at each spot where a riser is to go and install a tee fitting. Install the riser, making sure that the sprinkler head will be at or just above soil level. If you’ll be planting sod, the heads need to be an inch or so higher than soil level to accommodate the thickness of the sod. A number of flexible or adjustable risers make this connection easy. Flush the system. To do so, turn on the main water line and then the irrigation system and flush out the pipes for a few minutes. Sprinkler heads can clog very easily, and you want to eliminate all dirt in the lines. Turn off the water. Bring on the sprinkler heads. Screw the sprinkler heads on to the risers, making sure that they’re adjusted correctly and pointing in the right directions. Install a controller or timing device (optional). If you’re going to install a controller or timing device, now is the time. This electrical device should be in a protected place not far from your power source. A heated garage or basement is good. Be sure to run the electrical wires to connect the controller to the manifold in a waterproof pipe. The controller should be buried to protect it from rain and freezing weather. Test your system. If all the pipes and fittings are not leaking, you can backfill the trenches. If you installed the system in an existing lawn, replant the open soil with seed or sod. Otherwise, you’re ready to do some final leveling and plant your new lawn.

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How to Aerate Your Lawn

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Aerating is the process of punching small holes all over your lawn. The most effective type of aerating is with a gas-powered machine called a core aerator that pulls out small cores of grass and soil. Other aerators use short spikes to punch holes in the turf. Spiking is not nearly as effective as core aerating, but it’s better than nothing. Aerating does exactly what it sounds like and more. Air is critical to healthy root growth, so it shouldn’t surprise you that aerating is a good thing. Aerating your lawn breaks through a thatch layer, enables the roots to breathe, and improves water and nutrient penetration. If that’s not enough, aerating helps break down thatch by providing a better habitat for the microorganisms that do those sorts of things. Aerating annually is one of the best things you can do for your lawn, thatch or no thatch. Aerating is not nearly as traumatic as dethatching. You end up with some little cores of soil all over the lawn, but if those really bother you, you can rake them up. If you leave the cores alone, they break down into nothing in a few weeks anyway. So compared to dethatching, which can pulverize a lawn, aerating leaves the lawn in pretty good shape. Consequently, if you have a small thatch problem, aerating once a year probably solves the problem. Signs that your lawn needs to be aerated include Worn areas where people walk often Water puddles after irrigating Water runs off the lawn after only a few minutes of watering Parts of the lawn that just can’t seem to keep moist When you aerate, strive for an even 3- to 4-inch spacing between holes throughout the lawn. To do so, you must make two passes in different directions. Make sure that the soil is slightly moist — not too wet or too dry. Set the aerator to pull out cores about 3 inches long. Years of walking on a lawn or driving heavy equipment on it during construction can compact soil, smashing the particles tightly together and forcing all the air out. You got it: No air, bad for roots. You can identify the compacted areas because that’s where the water always puddles up. Eventually, the grass declines and starts turning brown because the roots receive no air, and water can’t get to them either. Compaction is particularly troublesome where soils are heavy clay. In fact, clay soil can have poor aeration and be slow to absorb water without your help. Walk all over clay soil, especially when soggy, and you really have problems. So what’s the answer for compacted or clay soil? You got it. Aerate. Aerating provides air to the roots and improves water penetration. More air and water mean happier roots and a healthier lawn. If your area has clay soil, you may want to aerate at least once a year. Oh, and one other place where aerating really helps is on sloping ground where water runs off quickly before it can soak in. Aerate, and more water can reach the roots. Is aerating great or what?

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How to Calibrate a Broadcast Spreader

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

A broadcast spreader is more difficult to calibrate than a drop spreader is because you can’t catch the fertilizer as it’s being thrown out. Broadcast spreaders throw fertilizer over a wide area of your lawn and are particularly useful for large lawns. To use a broadcast spreader properly, you need to know how wide a band the spreader covers. If the directions that came with the spreader don’t indicate the width, put some fertilizer in the spreader and run the spreader over a short stretch of lawn to find out. Don’t measure the coverage on concrete unless you plan to sweep up the fertilizer This type of spreader comes in handheld or wheeled models. The manufacturer presets a new spreader to apply fertilizers at specific rates according to the amount of nitrogen needed per 1,000 square feet. As the spreader gets older, these settings can get out of whack and not apply the proper amount. You also may find that the spreader doesn’t have a specific setting for the type of fertilizer you’re using. In either case, calibrating a spreader can tell you exactly how much fertilizer you’re applying and whether you need to make any adjustments. Calibrating your spreader every year or two is a good idea. Take the following steps to calibrate a broadcast spreader. Weigh out an amount of fertilizer to cover a specific size test area — for example, enough for a 200-square-foot area (1/5 of 1,000 square feet). For example, if you’re using a fertilizer with 29 percent nitrogen, you need 3.4 pounds of fertilizer for 1,000 square feet. Divide 3.4 by 5 (roughly 0.7 pounds) to get the amount needed for 200 square feet. Mark a starting point and then push the spreader several feet to measure the width over which the fertilizer is effectively spread. Calculate and mark off a 200-square-foot area from the original starting point. For example, if your spreader throws out a 10-foot effective width, mark off a total of 20 feet (10 ´ 20 = 200 square feet) and complete spreading the fertilizer over 200 square feet. Increase the setting number if there is still fertilizer in the hopper. If you ran out of fertilizer before finishing, close down the setting. When you have an accurate setting, record the number for future use. Another point to remember is to calibrate the spreader over the lawn area, not on the driveway or street. Not only are you wasting money, the fertilizer will be washed into storm drains or creeks and other water systems. If you calibrate your spreader on the driveway, be sure to sweep up all the fertilizer when you finish. A driveway calibration shows exactly what the patterns are, and you don’t end up with a dark, ugly green or burned spot on the lawn if that’s where the spreader was calibrated.

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How to Choose an Efficient Lawn Sprinkler

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Choosing the right lawn sprinkler is one of the most important decisions you can make if you want a healthy lawn without wasting water. Sprinklers are either portable or fixed: Portable sprinklers: Portable sprinklers come in myriad styles with varying application rates (how fast they apply water) and application patterns (covering square, round, or rectangular areas). Portable sprinklers also vary by how large an area you can cover, but that area is further influenced by how high you turn on the hose and the amount of water pressure. Portable sprinklers vary in price from very inexpensive to quite costly. The main disadvantage of portable sprinklers is that you need to move them around by hand. On large lawns, this task can be a real chore. Another problem with portable sprinklers is uneven distribution of water within the sprinkler pattern. After you choose a sprinkler, perform the trusty can test, so that you know how long to run the sprinklers and how you need to overlap the patterns to provide complete coverage. Place cans around the lawn to see how the water is distributed. Permanent sprinklers: Permanent, in-ground sprinkler systems have many advantages over portable sprinklers and are really the best choice where summers are dry or where lawns are large. Here’s how the advantages stack up: You can connect permanent sprinklers to timers and fully automate them. You can precisely design placement so that all parts of the lawn are watered evenly without runoff. You can hook up permanent sprinklers to soil moisture sensors so that the lawn is watered only when needed. You can connect permanent sprinklers to rain sensors so that they automatically shut off when it rains. Permanent sprinklers offer more flexibility in terms of application rates, uniform distribution of water, and spray patterns. Of course, the main disadvantage to permanent irrigation systems is their cost and the labor involved in installing them. The ideal time to install a permanent irrigation system is when you plant a lawn. Still, you can dig up some grass and install in-ground sprinklers anytime. Even if you have a fully automated irrigation system, you’re not off the lawn-watering hook forever. You still have to keep an eye on the system to make sure that it operates properly. You have to adjust the timer with the seasons and maybe even turn it off in winter. And remember: Apply less water when the weather is cooler, more when it’s hot. Do you turn the sprinklers on and forget about them for two hours, and then find out you’ve nearly washed away the entire neighborhood? Buy an inexpensive timer that hooks up between your faucet and your hose. Set it for the appropriate time, and the timer shuts off the sprinklers for you. It can also water your lawn while you’re on vacation. The one most important piece of advice about hoses is this: Don’t buy a cheap hose. Spend a little money and buy one made of high-grade rubber, laminated filament, or other quality material. Buy a hose that rolls up easily in any weather and doesn’t kink. Cheap hoses are a curse!

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How to Dethatch Your Lawn

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Dethatching your lawn improves its overall health. When you dethatch, you actually cut through the thatch with knife-like blades and then removing the debris. It is a combinglike operation in which you comb out the debris. You can buy what’s called a thatching rake, which has knifelike blades rather than normal tines. You vigorously rake the lawn to remove the thatch, but it’s hard work and practical only for small lawns. The more practical and effective method is to rent a gas-powered machine called a dethatcher, vertical mower, or power rake. Available at your local rental yard, a dethatcher cuts through the thatch with rotating blades or stiff wire tines. The machines can be fairly heavy and a bit difficult to maneuver, but they’re a lot easier to use than thatching rakes. For thick grasses like Bermuda grass and zoysia grass, use a vertical mower with steel blades. You can use the wire-tine type of dethatcher on Kentucky bluegrass or fescue lawns. A dethatcher works best when the lawn is lightly moist — not too wet or too dry. Here’s how to do it: Mow the lawn a little lower than normal right before you dethatch. Make at least two passes over the lawn with the dethatcher to get all the thatch. Make the second pass at a 90-degree angle to the first. Rake up all the debris. If you haven’t used any pesticides on the lawn and it’s not a weedy grass like Bermuda grass, you can compost the debris or use it for mulch. Water and fertilize the lawn (according to your soil test results). Dethatching is pretty stressful on a lawn, and it can be on you, too. The lawn ends up looking pretty ratty, but if you dethatch at the right time, the lawn recovers quickly and fills in. For a quicker fill-in, some people prefer to reseed the lawn right after dethatching. You simply spread the seed, rake the lawn so the seed gets down to the soil surface, cover with a light mulch, rake lightly again, and keep everything moist. If you don’t want to reseed but worry that weed seedlings may take over before the grass recovers, apply a pre-emergent herbicide (it prevents weed seeds from germinating) after dethatching.

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How to Install a Lawn Irrigation System

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

After you plan your underground lawn irrigation system and purchase all your materials and equipment, you’re ready to start installation. If necessary you can rent a trenching machine for the job. Plan to have these tools on hand: Trenching shovel or a trenching machine Hacksaw for cutting the PVC pipe Pipe wrench Pick Tape measure String Mallet Stakes Utility knife Screwdriver Pipe tape for screw-together pipe fittings PVC glue (to connect pipe) Pipe cutter for copper (if necessary) Electrical tape (if you need to make any electrical connections) Roll up your sleeves and get out that elbow grease. Following is a step-by-step look at how you can install the sprinkler system. Lay the pipe out in your planned configuration. After you have all your pipe, fittings, and everything else on hand, double-check that you have everything you need from your design and parts list by laying the pipe out in the yard. Dig the pipe canals. The trenches that the pipe is going to lie in must be 3 to 4 inches wide and 8 to 10 inches deep. Digging the trenches can be hard work, especially if you’re not used to it. You may be better off hiring someone to do this for you or renting a trench-digging machine. If you’re doing the work yourself, then you need to stake out the trench area. Run string from stake to stake. This helps keep your trench lines straight. If you want to save your sod, cut the turf by plunging a sharp spade about 2 to 3 inches deep along the outlines of the trenches. If you’re not a glutton for punishment, then take the easier path and rent a sod cutter. If you’re installing a system in an existing lawn, you can remove and save the grass on top of the trenches for replanting later. Cut the sod pieces into comfortable size lengths (2 to 3 feet is usually about right) and then undercut them with the spade. Pick up the pieces of sod (roll them up, root side out, if you can) and put them in a shady, out-of-the-way place. Water the pieces of sod lightly and occasionally so that they don’t dry out. If you have to dig under a sidewalk or some other surface impediment, make sure that you flush the area underneath with water to loosen the soil. Drive a 1-inch-thick piece of galvanized pipe under the sidewalk and through the area where you want your PVC pipe to run. Pull the galvanized pipe out, tape one end of the PVC to keep out dirt, and run the PVC through the tunnel that you just created. Lay out and fit together all your pipe in the trenches without gluing the ends, to make sure that everything fits. Measure the length of pipe carefully and using a hacksaw or pipe cutter, cut the pipe to the correct lengths. Scrape off any rough edges with a utility knife. Carefully clean the two ends of pipe you’re going to fit together. When you’re sure everything measures out right, brush primer on the outside of the standard pipe and on the inside of the flared end. Brush the adhesive solvent over the primed areas and fit the pipes together. Twist the pipes one-quarter turn and hold them together in your hands for 20 seconds until they’re set.

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Lawn Climates of North America

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The United States contains nine lawn regions. The region you live in determines the type of lawn you should plant. The list here can give you guidance about the grasses to plant in your zone, but you can get more specific information from local nursery growers or your cooperative extension agency. Zone 1 — Coastal West: Rain is generally plentiful in the Coastal West, although in the southern parts of the area it rains mostly in winter. The summers are dry. Cool-season grasses are best adapted to this region. Soils are often acidic, so you need to add lime. Tall fescues are more popular where summers are dry, as in northern California. Zone 2 — Western transitional zone: Summers are generally long, dry, and warm in the Western transitional zone, which includes central and southern California. The winters are seasonable. You can grow either warm-season or cool-season grasses in this zone. Warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda grass, are preferable where water supplies are short. You can overseed warm-season grasses with tall fescue or ryegrass to keep lawns green in winter. Zone 3 — Arid Southwest: The Arid Southwest zone boasts long, hot summers and relatively dry weather year-round. It includes the low elevation desert climates of California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Warm-season grasses, such as hybrid Bermuda grass and zoysia grass, are your best choices. You can overseed warm-season grasses with annual or perennial ryegrass to keep them green year-round. Plant tall fescue, as well as natives like buffalo grass, in higher elevation areas. Soils are generally alkaline. Zone 4 — Cold and dry areas of the West: Zone 4 encompasses the cold and dry areas of the West, including high-elevation areas and the Great Plains. These climates are particularly tough, with wide fluctuations in temperature and rainfall and frequent high winds. Tough, native grasses such as buffalo grass, crested wheatgrass, and blue grama are often ideal choices. You can grow warm-season grasses in some southern areas. Otherwise, cool-season grasses such as tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass are preferable. Zone 5 — Midwest: The Midwest has cold, snowy winters and warm, humid summers with frequent rainfall. Cool-season grasses are widely planted, although you can find some hardier zoysia grass lawns in southern areas. Zone 6 — Northeast: Cold, snowy winters; warm, humid summers with frequent rain; and acidic soils are the norm in the Northeast. Cool-season grasses predominate. You can grow some hardier warm-season grasses in southern coastal areas. Zone 7 — Eastern transitional zone: Summers are generally warm and humid in the Eastern transitional zone. The winters are mild, but can be cold, especially at higher elevations. You can grow either warm-season or cool-season grasses, but local adaptation is very important because neither is perfectly suited. Overseeding warm-season grasses with cool-season grasses in fall keeps lawns green year-round. Check with the local nurserygrower or your cooperative extension service for recommendations. Zone 8 — Central Southeast: The Central Southeast zone is warm and humid and gets plenty of rain. Soils are often acidic. Warm-season grasses such as Bermuda grass, zoysia grass, and centipede grass are well-suited. Plant tall fescue in cooler, high-elevation areas. You also can use cool-season grasses to overseed warm-season grasses to keep lawns green throughout winter. Zone 9 — Gulf Coast, Florida, and Hawaii: Warm, humid, and wet best describes Zone 9. You get rain, rain, and more rain — diseases can run wild. Warm-season grasses are the only grasses suited for this area. Use carpet grass in particularly wet spots. Other good choices include Bermuda grass, Bahia grass, centipede grass, zoysia grass, and St. Augustine grass.

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