Establishing a Warm Season Lawn
Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass are warm season grasses that are best established after the danger of spring frost has past. Mid May through July are ideal times for planting.
The first step to establishing a warm season lawn is to take a soil test. Testing helps determine if any of the essential nutrients are deficient. If soil amendments are needed, incorporate them before establishment.
Properly prepared soil is essential for rapid, uniform establishment. Compacted soil severely limits root growth resulting in thin, weak turf that is full of weeds. At least 6 inches of nutrient rich and aerated soil is needed to grow a healthy lawn. Soils can be improved through the addition of weed-free organic material such as peat moss, compost, or well rotted manure. Avoid over-working the soil. A cloddy (1 inch diameter) soil is preferable to a powdery fine soil. Hand raking may be necessary to remove larger clods.
Sod is the quickest and most expensive method of establishing a Bermuda grass and zoysia grass lawn. Unroll the sod pieces tightly against each other, but do not overlap. Using a sharp knife, cut pieces to fit curves or small areas. After the sod has been laid, fill cracks with organic material and roll it to ensure good contact with the soil. Approximately 111 square yards are needed to cover 1,000 square feet.
Sod can be cut into 6 inch squares called plugs. Plugs placed a foot apart will grow together by the end of the growing season. For more rapid coverage, place the plugs closer together. Plugs should be firmed into the soil so the tops are level with the soil surface.
Sprigging is a method of planting stems from shredded turf in shallow furrows. A sprig is a six inch piece of plant that includes runner, roots and leaves. Sprigs can be obtained by tearing apart established sod. Approximately three square yards of mature sod are needed to sprig 1,000 square feet of lawn surface. Plant the sprigs in shallow trenches six inches apart in rows and six inches between rows. When planted, one end of each sprig must be at least 2 inches below the soil surface and the other end above ground.
Stolonizing is an alternative method to sprigging where the sprigs are scattered on the soil surface and covered with topdressing like topsoil or compost.
With all methods of planting, it will be necessary to keep the soil moist until the grass is established. Keep weeds under control and begin mowing as soon as the grass becomes tall enough to mow.