A beautiful lawn is an important feature for a well landscaped home. A homeowner’s investment in a lawn and other landscaping is as good as any home improvement in increasing the value of a residence. A green, well-groomed lawn is the first thing visitors notice as they look at your home.


Choosing a turfgrass:

The two most widely used and recommended warm season turfgrasses for this area are Bermuda grass and St. Augustine. Your choice of a turfgrass depends on the amount of shade in your yard and the availability of water for your grass.

Common Bermudagrass is a fine-textured (thin bladed) grass and one of the most widely adapted turfgrasses for lawns in Ellis County. It forms a very dense, healthy turf when fertilized and mowed correctly. Bermuda grass is drought tolerant, spreads rapidly, and tolerates traffic better than most turfgrasses. The negatives with Bermuda grass are its poor shade tolerance and its ability to rapidly invade flower beds, vegetable gardens, and landscape plantings via underground runners. It can be sodded or grown from seed. Seeding, of course, is cheaper. If seeding, use 1 to 2 pounds seed per 1,000 square feet. Seed when the soil temperature has reached 70+ degrees, which is usually in mid-April. Seeding too early is a waste of seed as it will rot before it germinates.

St. Augustine grass is a wide-bladed, coarse textured species that forms a dense, thick lawn crowding out most weeds. It is the most shade tolerant of Texas turfgrasses and is easily kept out of flower beds by pulling above-ground runners. St. Augustine grass is susceptible to a virus problem called SAD. The varieties, ‘Raleigh’ and ‘Delmar’ have proven resistance to this virus and have improved cold tolerance. They are the most recommended selections for north Texas at this time. Laying solid sod or checkerboarding is recommended. Four inch plugs may be used on 12 inch centers. Expect to treat weeds growing in the bare areas until the St. Augustine has covered. Planting season is mid-March through mid-September.

There are other less frequently used turfgrasses that will grow in this area; warm season grasses such as: hybrid Bermuda grasses, buffalo grass and zoysia grass, and cool season grasses such as: tall fescue, perennial rye, and annual rye. For further information on these grasses contact the master gardeners at the Ellis County AgriLife Extension Office. Our sALawn, Garden and Landscape Manual written and compiled by the Ellis County Master Gardeners has more in detail on these grasses.


Soil preparation prior to establishment:

•Outlined below are the recommended steps for preparation of the soil prior to planting. Soil preparation is equally as important whether using sod, seed, or plugs.

•Take a soil test to see if the soil needs amending to correct the soil pH, or is deficient in a particular plant nutrient. Soil test kits are available from A & M. Visit your county Extension office to obtain the test kit.

•When possible, add a source of organic material such as peat moss, rotted sawdust, compost, or rotted rice hulls to improve the soil. This is especially important for the heavier clay soils here in Ellis County. Mix this material into the top 4 to 6 inches of the native soil.

•Grade the soil to provide proper surface drainage. The lawn should be graded so that it slopes away from buildings and sidewalks.

•Final grade: Hand rake the soil to remove any big dirt clods or rocks. Check to make sure there are no depressions in the lawn. Low areas will trap water and make it difficult to maintain the turfgrass properly. If depressions exist, add a good sandy loam soil to level these depressed areas.

•Add a starter fertilizer. Adding a good quality fertilizer that has adequate phosphorus aids in the development of new root growth. Examples of a good starter fertilizer include: 10-20-10, 10-10-10, or 13-13-13. Apply approximately 10 to 15 pounds of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet.


These are excerpts taken from the Lawn, Garden and Landscape Manual written and compiled by the Ellis County Master Gardeners. The manual will be for sale at the Lawn and Garden Expo on March 19 at the Waxahachie Civic Center. Come, visit with the master gardeners at the “experts” table while you’re shopping the plant sale.