Ask A Lawn Sodding Expert
Owner Ben Schneider, The Sod Installation Guy, and his team answer common questions about types of grass in the People Ask: Lawn Sodding Q&A.
Q&A on Types of Grass
Choosing the right type of sod grass for your lawn can significantly impact its appearance, maintenance requirements, and overall health. With a wide range of sod grass varieties available, it’s important to have a clear understanding of their characteristics and suitability for your specific needs.
Questions & Answers from Peak Sodding
What’s the hardiest ground cover? Zoysia is one of the most popular grass types due to its exceptional density. Not only does it look incredible from the thickness and color, but it also boasts some of the best growth habits meaning it can tolerate a wide variety of conditions.
What’s a low-maintenance grass that doesn’t need to be cut often? While Bermuda may be considered lower maintenance due to its drought tolerance and quick recovery abilities, Zoysia takes the crown with lower maintenance. Zoysia is a slower grower than Bermuda meaning it won’t be quite as aggressive in its growth, allowing for more time in between cuts.
What type of grass do you offer?
Is it worth it to lay sod?
Very few desirable turfgrasses planted in the greater Raleigh area are available in seed form. Most desirable turfgrasses are sterile hybrids, which means they cannot be grown from seed. These include all fine-bladed zoysias and all desirable Bermuda grasses. The exceptions which can be grown from seed are fescue, centipede, and wide-bladed zoysias. When fescue is seeded, the results are pretty quick – 7-10 days to germination and 3-4 weeks to a lawn. With warm-season grasses, however, the results from seed are very slow. Germination takes 14-21 days, during which time the grass must be kept consistently moist. An established lawn from seed takes 2-3 years. Weed control becomes a huge challenge while you wait for the lawn to fill in. Sod is almost instant gratification! You have full coverage when the new sod is laid, and there is a short period of time (3-4 weeks) when traffic must be minimized while the new sod roots. Weeds may appear in the seams, but once the seams close, weed control becomes much easier.
What is the best grass type for high-traffic yards and full sun?
The best grass type for high-traffic yards and full sun is TifTuf Bermuda. TifTuf is a 2018 hybrid that was produced to withstand traffic, drought, and heat. When damaged, TifTuf recovers more quickly than other grasses. It does grow quickly, so it performs best when mowed every 4-5 days and is kept no taller than 1.5 inches. Tall Bermuda grass shades out its own root system and gets thinner. Short is best for warm-season grasses!
What is a good drought-tolerant grass?
Warm-season grasses are far more drought-tolerant than Fescue. Fescue is a cool-season grass and NC is a warm-season state, so warm-season grasses are the logical choice. The most drought-tolerant grass in the greater Raleigh area is TifTuf Bermuda. Zenith Zoysia is a close second, and Zeon Zoysia is also a good choice, but it does prefer a bit more water than the others.
All grasses thrive when they receive an inch or more of water per week. But the warm season grasses can handle drought periods and high temperatures much better than Fescue.
Can you sod a shady area? While it is not advised to lay sod in areas that never see sunlight, you can most definitely lay sod in areas that might receive minimal sun. It is important to make sure that you are laying the correct type of sod that can handle the shady conditions.
What is the best grass for hot weather? Any warm-season turf, such as Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede, and St. Augustine are all exceptional grasses for hot and sunny areas. Make sure you consider watering though as not all grass types are as drought tolerant as others!
Is sod better than grass seed? Sod is by far the most effective way to establish a lawn while also assuming the least amount of risk possible. Seeding a lawn can often take years to truly establish even with proper care and preparation due to unpredictable weather patterns and washout. Seeding also can limit your choices of turf type significantly as some of the most popular and quality turf types are sterile and therefore will not produce seeds that can be regrown.
What is best to put under sod? Soil is food for plants. The more nutritious the soil, the healthier the plants! Think of turfgrass as the athlete of the plant world. It is growing at a high rate of speed, and then getting cut back regularly. To stay this active, turfgrass must eat well, just like an athlete! Our soil in the greater Raleigh area tends to be clay or sand. It does not typically contain much topsoil or humus matter (compost) unless this has been added in significant amounts in the past. That means it is low in nutrition. Therefore, it is crucial to add organic matter, including topsoil and compost, to improve the nutrient content of the soil before sodding.
Is there a good grass type for a shady high traffic yard?
This is a complicated question and deserves a thorough answer. First, let’s determine how much shade is present. There is no grass that likes full shade. None. Grass is the athlete of the plant world, growing more quickly than most plants. Therefore, it requires sunlight to do the photosynthesis necessary to maintain that growth. The faster the grass grows, the more direct (not filtered) sunlight it needs per day. Bermuda requires the most sun, 6-8 hours per day, and is not good for shaded areas. Zenith Zoysia needs 5-6 hours of direct sun per day and is fairly traffic tolerant. Zeon Zoysia is the most shade-tolerant warm-season grass, needing 4 or more hours of direct sun per day, and handles moderate traffic but not heavy traffic. Fescue is a cool season grass and performs best in 3-5 hours of direct sun per day but is not traffic tolerant because it is a clumping grass (not a spreading grass like Bermuda or Zoysia) and cannot repair itself when damaged.
To make an informed decision for your lawn, Peak Sodding offers free lawn assessments.
What are the best grasses to walk on barefoot?
Zeon Zoysia feels the best under bare feet! It is thick, luxurious, and soft. And because it is kept short (no taller than 1.5 inches, please), it does not hide creepy crawlies as a taller grass can. Fine-bladed Zoysias like Zeon have the densest root structure of all turfgrasses, so they choke out weeds very well and keep that cushiony feel. Children and dogs love to roll in Zeon!
Why is centipede so much different than Zoysia?
Centipede (and St. Augustine) are much more chemically sensitive than other turf grasses grown in the Raleigh area. Most chemicals that can be applied to other grasses damage Centipede. Most grasses need high Nitrogen fertilizers. Centipede needs a minimal application of low Nitrogen fertilizer. Most post-emergent weed killers will kill Centipede. It is extremely important to thoroughly read the label on any chemical before applying it to your lawn. The label will say it is safe for certain grasses/plants. Do not use on any plant not listed. Application rates are critical as well. If a little is good, a lot is NOT better. Incorrect application rates can kill your lawn.
Centipede grows more slowly than most other grasses, so if it is damaged, recovery rates are slow as well. It is quite drought tolerant and does not like heavy clay soils that hold moisture. Centipede prefers sand or sandy loam and is very popular on the coast. It is also very temperature sensitive and should only be installed in hot weather.