K.I.S.S. the Lawn: The Lazy Gardener’s Lawn

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One way to make lawn maintenance easier is to eliminate as much of it as possible!
N. Jordan Franklin, ©2022 H.G.I.C., Clemson Extension

Turfgrass… Blah. Amiright!? Kidding, but I have a confession to make. Once upon a time, I got a degree in Horticulture… Turfgrass. A golf course summer internship quickly determined that maintaining the same 18 holes of turfgrass and dodging golf balls was not for me!

In last month’s blog, I wrote about making gardening a more enjoyable pursuit by simplification. (Be a Lazy Gardener and K.I.S.S. for Healthy Plants) Growing the right turfgrass is imperative for easy lawn maintenance. See HGIC 1214, Selecting a Lawn Grass, for help choosing the best turfgrass for your landscape.

First, you need lots of sunshine! All turfgrasses grow best with full sun exposure of at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. While a few types tolerate as little as five hours, all do better with more. If your lawn gets less than five hours of direct sunlight, extend your landscape beds and plant shade-loving groundcovers, annuals, perennials, or shrubs.

Turfgrasses are divided into two categories: warm-season and cool-season grasses. Most warm-season grasses grow throughout the state. While the only viable cool-season grass, tall fescue, grows best in the Upstate and upper Piedmont. Warm-season turfgrasses actively grow from May to August, while cool-season grass grows from September to March.

Although turfgrasses are green and look similar from a distance, each species has different growing characteristics that are important to their management. Many crucial maintenance tasks are done during the growing season. Maintenance tasks like fertilizing or aerating done at the wrong time can severely stress the lawn leaving it susceptible to insect and disease problems. Identify your existing turfgrass to avoid these problems.

Warm Season Turfgrass*

Cool Season Turfgrass*

*Click on the links above to view each turfgrasses’ maintenance calendar

Many gardeners take lawn mowing for granted, believing that the lower they mow, the less often it is needed. Each turfgrass species has a recommended mowing height for optimal health. Mowing too low or too high weakens grasses by either removing too much leaf surface or shading the plants’ crowns. Visit HGIC 1205, Mowing Lawns, to find the correct mowing height for your lawn.

Determine lawn fertilizer needs by having your soil tested. Soil test results provide nutrient levels, soil pH, and fertilizer recommendations without guesswork. Visit HGIC 1652, Soil Testing, for information on taking a soil sample for testing.

Provide one inch of water per week (including rainfall) to keep turfgrass healthy. Water during the early morning hours between midnight and 9:00 AM to reduce the time grass leaves are wet and help reduce the incidence of fungal diseases. Apply the entire inch of water on one or split between two days, depending on your soil type, to encourage grass roots to grow deep to access the water. Visit How Often Should a Lawn be Watered? for more information.

Simple, right? If not, you can always go wild! (Let’s Go Wild!)

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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