Carolina Lawn Care

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Turfgrass is nothing new; it’s been around for a very long time. Its original use and ability to support livestock has evolved into durable, stress-tolerant grasses for urban environments, home lawns, and sports fields.

There are many reasons we love our lawns. Lawns can be part of sustainable landscapes when sited correctly and adapted turf species or turf alternatives are chosen. Turf is the appropriate choice when a wear tolerant surface is needed, for play or recreation. An attractive, low-maintenance outdoor space can be a source of enjoyment and refuge to unwind, relax, and have fun. From picnics and games to lounging in the shade, a lawn can be the perfect setting for outdoor entertainment and relaxation. They are also a good choice of plant material when you need a very low (2-3”) profile for view or line of sight or an access route is to another part of the property.

Grasses are plants and therefore benefit the air we breathe, the soil and water in our environment and provide cooling for our comfort. Turfgrasses are some of the most effective ground covers for sites to prevent erosion, saturated soil, and severely compacted soil. Natural grasses improve the air we breathe by absorbing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses while releasing oxygen.

When established, they allow water to better infiltrate into the soil where a dense network of roots help trap and remove pollutants from water as it moves through the soil. Runoff water moves slower, so it cannot carry as much sediment or other soil particles as faster-moving water.

Smart and sustainable planting areas mitigate the surrounding heat and remain cooler than hardscapes and other surfaces by as much as 55 degrees. Research on the effects of urban heat islands indicates that 57 out of 60 cities measured have seen temperature increases since the 1940s. Plants, primarily trees and grasses, help moderate this effect because of radiative shading and evapotranspiration.

Smart plantings mean using the right plant for the right place, including grasses. The key is to choose plants that adapt well to the environment in which you live. Evaluate your site with a critical eye. Does it stay sunny – at least 4 hours/day? Is it well-drained? Is relatively flat to gently sloped? Has a smooth, graded surface? Is it a fairly large area with curving edges – easy to maintain? No? There are better alternatives to suit spaces that are problem areas. If places in your yard stay wet and/or shady or are under constant, heavy traffic or are tight and difficult to maintain with a lawnmower consider reducing your lawn areas with plants that will complement your lawn and your home.

For more information on lawn care, contact Minda Daughtry at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Lee County Center, 2420 Tramway Road, Sanford, NC 27332, email at minda_daughtry@ncsu.edu or call at 919-775-5624.

Minda Daughtry is Horticulture Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.