We’ve been counting the days till we can kick our shoes off and run barefoot through the grass — unless that grass is full of weeds and bugs. We want our yards to be the envy of our neighborhoods. But how do we get our lawns looking like the ones we drive by on our way to work? There are many factors at play when it comes to cultivating a luscious Arkansas lawn.
Choosing the Right Grass Type
The grass you use to establish your yard is going to be with you for the long run. This is going to be the place where kids play, pets run, and you host barbecues. So it’s important to know whichArkansas grass typeis most suitable for your yard. Before settling on one variety, consider your climate, weather, shade and soil quality.
A common cool-season grass, fescue, loves cool, humid regions. It’s good to mix with warm season grass types since it will add a touch of green to your lawn in the winter. It’s also resistant to drought, disease, and foot traffic. Fescue will turn pale during the heat of the summer, so it shouldn’t be used as a base.
Kentucky bluegrass is also great when mixed with other grass seeds. It’s a popular choice in Arkansas because its fine texture produces a lush lawn. By itself, Kentucky bluegrass will not tolerate a lot of foot traffic, but when used to overseed lawns, it holds up well. It also retains its beautiful green color for most of the year.
Used for golf courses, parks, and other recreational areas because of its high traffic tolerance. It stands up well to kids and pets, but it is sensitive to drought. You can mix in with other grass types to keep grass looking green into the colder months.
Bermuda grass is perfect for quickly establishing new lawns, but this variety can become a nuisance when it crowds out your other grass types. Bermuda grass requires full sun. monthly fertilization, frequent irrigation, and frequent mowing.
Zoysia grass is a warm-season grass that does well in moderate light. It’s great for lawns with a lot of trees. Zoysia grass is disease and traffic resistant, and you won’t have to mow it often.
Seeding Versus Sod
When establishing a new yard, there are two ways to do it. Either lay sod or plant your new lawn from seed. Each has benefits, but it’s up to you to decide what kind of yard you want.
Sod is great for establishing a lawn almost instantly. The grass is already grown, and all you need to do is lay it down. While laying down sod does create a beautiful lawn quickly, it’s also costly and a lot of work. Sod requires constant attention while it tries to establish itself and the patches don’t always take. If you are not careful, parts of the grass can die around the edges or even entire sections, leaving your yard looking like a green and brown checkerboard. These areas can easily be replaced with new sod.
Planting a new lawn from seed can also be time-consuming since all the existing sod needs to be removed. If the existing sod is worth repairing, you canoverseed. Overseeding is spreading seeds onto your existing lawn. This can be done quickly and inexpensively. One of the major advantages to overseeding is you can mix different types of seeds together to give your lawn various traits such as resistance to drought, pests, and diseases.
The most important way to keep your grass looking great is to mow it properly. Proper lawn maintenance requires you to mow your lawn at least once a week. Follow what Wikilawndescribes as “the one golden rule” of grass cutting: cut no more than one-third of the length of the lawn. Cutting the grass shorter could stress the lawn. You should also be aware that the length of your grass depends on the type of grass you have in your yard. It’s a good idea to mow the grass in a different direction each time. This way the blades are cut from different sides, and you don’t tamp down your grass in the same spot every time. Remember to tune up your lawn mower and sharpen its blades. Dull blades tear grass instead of cutting it.
Aerating your yard is the process of drilling holes in your yard to allow roots to grow. This is a practice that is a remedy for many lawn ailments that result from soil compaction. Compact soil can prevent water, fertilizer, and oxygen from getting to the roots. This will cause your grass to appear sickly and thin. You might not be aware of the problem, and try to water and fertilize some more but these actions won’t help if your soil is compact. Most people aerate in the fall and sometimes again in the spring. Aerating in the summer can stress the lawn when it’s already dealing with the heat.
Thatch is another culprit that contributes to the problem of soil compaction. Thatch is nothing more than a layer of grass clippings and organic matter that lies on top of the soil. This barrier prevents water from penetrating the soil and causes it to runoff.
Signs You Need to Aerate
- Water pooling in areas of your lawn
- Thin or dying grass
- Water running off when you water it
- Squishy or spongy grass from too much thatch
Aerating your lawn every year can prevent thatch buildup, loosen the soil, and let your roots grow strong.
Nothing ruins the appearance of a well-manicured lawn more than weeds. You can apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring or simply dig the weeds out by hand. Several post-emergent herbicides will kill both weeds and crabgrass without harming your lawn. If you mow, fertilize and water regularly, you’ll decrease the number of weeds in your yard.
Once your lawn is established it’s time to add features, plants, and maybe even an entertainment area to show off your luscious Arkansas lawn.
Meredith Hale is a gardening and landscape writer, and design addict. She has coordinated the design on many house flipping projects, admitting that her favorite part is creating inspired outdoor spaces.