Here in North Carolina we are fortunate to have the best of both worlds when it comes to turf choices. Farther north there are more cool season grasses, like blue grass and fescue, and south of us there are a variety of warm season grasses. In this area, both varieties are used as we are in the “transition zone.” While this has its benefits, it also has drawbacks. Neither warm nor cool season grasses will fully thrive year round.
Like in many other regions, the popular choice in greater Raleigh and the Triangle area has been fescue. Fescue is a cool season grass, which means it grows best in the spring and the fall. Because it is low maintenance and stays green all year, it is a good option in the transition zone. Fescue does need to be reseeded yearly because it does not germinate itself, though.
Another thing to keep in mind with fescue, is although it can stay green during the summer months, it may need extra watering and iron to prevent it from browning when it’s hottest. Fescue needs to be reseeded yearly because hot summers can do real damage. Be sure to water regularly during the summer months.
Warm season grasses are beginning to be en vogue in the area though as well. As the name suggests, warm season grasses grow best during the warmer months and go dormant in the winter. Some popular varieties are bermuda, and zoysia. Warm season grasses love the sun and are well suited for wide open spaces. This plant is sold with the idea that it is drought tolerant, that may be true, but be sure to water often for a best results.
Living in the transition zone does give us in North Carolina more options, but none of them is a silver bullet. It will always take some care to keep your lawn healthy, green and weed free. If you need help choosing the right grass for your lawn, we’d be happy to assist in that decision.
This picture above was taken in August of this year (2016), and what you are looking at is fescue grass that is struggling to stay alive, and just alongside of it, is green zoysia grass, that is absolutely thriving. Fescue is a cool season grass and zoysia is a warm season grass. As you can see a good amount of the fescue has actually died and anything left is dormant, just hoping to survive a little longer until fall. You may even see some weeds or crab grass in the fescue because by this point in the year the pre-emergents have broken down and the turf is very thin. For sure, no one is happy with this look, but this is the norm for cool season grasses in the Triangle area. It might help if I explain what is going on. We apply a precise amount of pre-emergent herbicide in early spring to the lawn that is designed to last until mid-August. This product may last until the end of August or if conditions are tough it could break down sooner, either way we want this herbicide out of the soil by this time of year, because it is time to aerate and over-seed your lawn. If these herbicides lasted longer they would negatively impact the germination of the new fescue seed. So if you are seeing some weeds pop up in your yard, it’s actually not a bad sign, just a sign to set up your aeration and seeding.