OUT IN THE YARD: Keeping a lawn is too much work!

Published 11:39 pm Saturday, May 21, 2016

By Tim Schreck

Well, spring has sprung, and with all this rain and warm weather, I am deep in the mowing cycle. Yippee!

The word lawn came from the old English word laude, meaning glade or opening in the forest. These were first seen in medieval times where sections of land were cut down around castles.  As the invader threats subsided, the lawn became a status symbol, where only the rich could afford to keep land mowed.

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As the U.S. industrialized during the 1800’s, cities found they needed recreational areas, parks, for their citizens. With these parks came the great lawns where everyone would gather late in the afternoon to relax. (This was before you could stay at home in the air conditioning and watch TV.) The fist patent for the lawn mower soon came out and opened the lawn to all the upper class. After World War II, people started moving to the suburbs.  The first suburbs were cookie cutter and came with a front yard/lawn. Again the lawn became a status symbol and people started pouring tons of money into making their yard look better than their neighbor’s. The chemical factories, built during the war, were converted to fertilizers fueling this desire for lush and greener lawns. From the Texas Aggie website you can find that there are 1.6 million acres of lawns in the United States and we spend 9.3 billion dollars on its care each year. Additionally it is estimated that up to 70 per cent of municipal water usage is for lalndscapes.

There are several varieties suitable for the Beaumont area .  These include St. Augustine, Centipede, Zoysia, and Bermuda. Unfortunately St. Augustine, Bermuda and even Zoysia now are listed as non-native, alien species, with their use being discouraged and  even being targeted for elimination!

St. Augustine is most well-known.  It has dark green wide leaves and loves being watered.  It requires more watering during droughts but does well in partially shaded areas. It does not do well in high traffic areas. Being a tropical grass it does not handle hard freezes very well. If it is fertilized too much or neglected it is susceptible to cinch bugs and other diseases.

Bermuda grass is a one the most used grasses since it used in many golf courses and athletic fields.  It can be cut close and holds up to high traffic. Its downfalls are mowing requirements and low shade tolerance.

Centipede grass, also known as the lazy man’s grass, has some notable characteristics.  It does well in sandy or acidic soil. It is the easiest to maintain of all the grasses needing little fertilizer and bounces back well after a drought.  It also does fare well in shaded areas or in high traffic areas.

Zoysia grass species are becoming the star of the show.  They are very shade and drought tolerant.  They are cold tolerant and require less fertilizer.  There are many species of Zoysia varying in their characteristics so match your needs to the variety you are buying.

There are a couple items to remember when caring for your lawn.  Apply fertilizers only when you see signs of stress and water regularly.

If you have any questions gardening in general you can reach Jefferson County Master Gardener Tim Schreck at timothyrschreck@gmail.com  or call Texas AgriLife Extension at 409-835-8461.