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All About Lawns

Featuring Terry O'Leary

Superintendent - Georgia National Golf Course



No matter how beautiful a house may be, if it has an unkept yard and dying grass it will be an eyesore. A lawn of luscious green grass is a beauty to behold and joy to walk on, play and enjoy. The value of your home will be increased greatly if you have a lush green lawn. There are three necessary elements in order to have a beautiful lawn; the right grass type, good soil, and good drainage.

When planning for a lawn you should take into consideration your lifestyle and feelings about maintenance. Whether your lawn is large or small, you can make it appealing by selecting the right grass type and ensuring that it's shape fits in well with other elements of the landscape. If you are having touble deciding the shape of your lawn consult with a professional landscaper or landscape designer who can help assist you.

Soil preparation is critical to the success and the long-term health of your lawn. Testing the soil is highly recommended so that you can identify defiencies and then add the appropriate ammendments. You also want to make sure that the grade is such that there will be no wet spots or other drainage issues.

Most types of lawns for the south can be started from seed, except for Meyers zoysia and St. Augustine. Once your lawn is established you can ensure that your it remains healthy by providing regular fertilizer treatments, aeration, mowing, edging and pest control when needed.

The types of lawn grasses to choose from in the mid-Georgia area are:

Bermuda - Bermuda is the most popular selection for lawns in our area. Bermuda provides a deep green turf and handles foot-traffic well. Bermuda requires full sun and does not tolerate shade. For best results seed between April 15 - Aug. 15 and sod May 1 - Sept 15. -Maintaining a Bermuda Lawn
Centipede - Known as the 'lazy man's grass' centipede is our favorite choice for mid-Georgia. It's especially good for larger lawns as it requires less frequent mowing. Centipede lawns do not require liming and are the most shade tolerant of the warm season grasses. For best results seed between April15 - July 15 and sod May 1 - Sept 1. Maintaining a Centipede Lawn
Zoysia - 'Meyers' Zoysia is known as the cadillac of lawn grasses. The turf is a deep vibrant green and very dense. Zoysia needs sun and will thin out considerably near the root systems of large trees. We recommend Zoysia for smaller lawns. (10,000 Sq, Ft.or under). For best results sod between May 1 - Sept 1. Maintaining a Zoysia Lawn
St. Augustine - St. Augustine can be grown in our area, but is probably the least popular. 'Raleigh' is the most cold hardy variety we know of. Grows in sun however shade tolerance is good. For best results sod between May 1 - Sept 1. Maintaining a St. Augustine Lawn
Fescue - Fescue is a good selection for shadier lawns. It will require some management and usually needs reseeded every year. A new variety: 'RTF Advantage' is self-repairing. It shouldn't be cut below 4" in summer due to risk of burnout. Always select a 'turf-type' variety. Fescue should be seeded in spring or fall. Maintaining a Fescue Lawn
Blue Grass 'Thermal Blue' - This is a new selection of Bluegrass that has shown through trials to be quite heat tolerant in the deep south. We are testing it in our own yards to see how well it performs before recommending it. If you are interested in trying it out, we do keep a small amount on hand. Seed bluegrass in spring or fall for best results.


Planting a New Lawn

For your lawn to prosper you must have good, rich soil. Soil is important because it not only provides the water for your grass to grow, but it also provides nutrients and a place for the roots of the grass to anchor.

You should test your soil to see if the PH, or alkalinity and acidity, is correct. Buy a soil testing kit at a garden center. Collect samples of your soil by going at least 6 inches deep and mixing the soil from several different locations in the dirt plot. For fescue, bermuda, zoysia and bluegrass the PH reading you need is around 7. If it is below that then your soil is acidic and you need to add lime. If your PH is above 7 then your soil is alkaline and you need to add sulfur to make it more acidic. Centipede lkes our acidic soil however prefers it on the sandy side.

Drainage - Before planting a new lawn any drainage problems should be identified and corrected. If you know that there are drainage problems we would recommend hiring a professional grading contractor to correct the problem. Professional graders will use a laser transit to ensure proper drainage.

awn Bed Preparation - Once drainage issues, if any, are taken care of you are now ready to prepare the seed or sod bed. The bed should be tilled or plowed to a depth of 4-6" and then raked smooth. If your soil is very poor or hard-packed clay you should apply a liberal layer of screened topsoil, sand, and/or composted soil ammendment to ammend soil before tilling. Remove any rocks larger than a quarter in diameter as you rake to smooth.

If you are really serious about having a beautiful lawn hire a reputable local landscaper who has the right equipment and expertise to prepare your lawn bed as if it were going to be a putting green. Always make sure when hiring a contractor to get at least three references. Ask to see a portfolio or obtain a list of addresses where you can go to take a look at the contractors past work.

Broadcasting Seed - If you are planting your lawn from seed you will need to use a rotary spreader to broadcast the seed. DO NOT use drop spreaders. Walk behind and shoulder broadcast spreaders work well for fescue and bermuda. Centipede is best broadcasted with a smaller, hand-held box spreader that has micro-settings for their tiny seeds. We don't recommend blending your seed with sand.

TIP: When broadcasting the seed make two passes over the entire lawn area, going the opposite direction the second pass. This will ensure more even coverage and minimize bare spots.

Fertilizing - Always broadcast a good starter fertilizer when planting a new lawn. broadcast fertilizer before you lay sod or broadcast seed. Spreading rates should be labeled on the bag. Broadcast the starter fertilizer the same way you applied the seed making two passes going in opposite direction the second pass.

Liming - All new lawns should be limed except for centipede which doesn't require lime. We recommend testing your soil for ph so that you will know how much to apply. A general rule of thumb for mid-Georgia lawns is 40 lbs. of lime per 500 - 1,000 square feet. Most soil tests sent to extension services come back with these recommendations. However, it is best to test your soil to know for sure.

Mulching - After seeding it will be necessary to shake a thin layer of wheatstraw over the newly planted lawn bed. Wheat straw will help hold seed in place if it rains and also help to retain moisture, resulting in quicker germination and estalishment of lawn. A bale of wheatstraw usually covers about 300-400 sq. ft. when distrubuted enough just to conceal the soil.

Water - Water every day when there is no rain until seeds germinate and as needed after that.

Laying Sod - Make sure to order sod from a reputable supplier. Schedule the delivery of your sod only when you know for sure the time that you will be able to begin laying it. Weather conditions have a way of disrupting schedules and you don't want to end up with several pallets of sod on site having to wait through 3 days of rain. So, when finish grading and raking is completed, and you've checked the forecast, you may order sod. Most sod companies can schedule delivery next day or day after.

Be there when the sod arrives. You will want to strategically place the pallets of sod i a way that will reduce unnecessary labor to lay it. A pallet of sod generally has 450 to 550 sq. ft. per pallet depending on the variety.

TIP: Mark out squares on the ground that are 20' x 25' and have the pallets set just outside of these squares.

Before laying sod broadcast starter fertilizer, and lime if required.

To start laying your sod find a straight or long line/edge and begin there. Lay down one row and stager the next row as in a brick pattern. Continue with this pattern until you are finished.

After all of the sod has been laid trim around the perimeter with a machete, bushaxe, or other sharp instrument.

Water every day when there is no rain until sod is firmly rooted and as needed after that.


Reseeding Your Fescue Lawn

Bermuda, Centipede, and Zoysia lawns do not require reseeding. If you have one of these lawns and your grass is looking dingy, or thinned out, it is probably due to weather, pest or disease damage, poor drainage, hard packed soil, or insufficient supply of elements or nutrients in the soil. Give Wilson Bros. Nursery or a lawn maintenance professional a call and they will help to identify the problem. You may also e-mail your questions.

CAUTION: Never overseed a bermuda lawn that was established from hybrid sod sod. Nybrid sod bermuda will not match up with bermuda types grown from seed - not even the 'turf-type' bermuda from seed.

If you have a fescue lawn it will probably need reseeding at least one time per year - preferably in the fall (October is best). However, there is a new self-repairing type of turf-type fescue out these days called RTF Advantage Fescue that you may plant in spring. We are now stocking it at the nursery during spring and fall.

To overseed a fescue lawn with RTF Advantage Fescue (which can be blended with any other type of fescue), you will need to aerate the lawn area with a core (or plug) aerator. Make several passes with the aerator over the lawn area.

TIP: Plug aeration usually works best when done the day after a good rain. You can also soak the yard down with a sprinkler the day or evening before.

When broadcasting the seed use a rotary-type spreader making two passes over the entire lawn area, going the opposite direction the second pass. This will ensure more even coverage and minimize bare spots.

Then broadcast starter fertilizer and pelletized lime using a rotary spreader. Spread wheatstraw over bare areas and on slopes where the existing grass has thinned out or disappeared. Water every day that there is no rain until seeds germinate and as needed after seed has germinated.

Seeding Rates

Type of Grass Seed
Lbs. Per 4,000 Square Feet
Turf-Type Fescue
25 (Overseeding: 15)
Turf-Type Bermuda
Ryegrass (Overseeding)


For information about maintaining or planting a lawn select from a category below:

Maintaining a Bermuda Lawn

Maintaining a Centipede Lawn

Maintaining a Zoysia Lawn

Maintaining a St. Augustine Lawn

Maintaining a Fescue Lawn

Restoring a Lawn

Planting a Lawn from Scratch

If you are having trouble getting grass to grow under trees or in dense shade areas consider planting evergreen groundcovers that will thrive in these conditions.


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Since 1984, Wilson Bros Landscape has specialized in residential and commercial landscape design and installation services.
MULCH DIRECT delivers and/or installs 15 to 100 cubic yard loads of bulk mulch direct to your job site in Georgia and surrounding states. We sell at wholesale prices to everyone!
SOD DIRECT delivers and/or installs high-quality sod grasses direct to your site in Georgia and surrounding states. We sell at wholesale prices to everyone!
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