Spring is here again in Atlanta and with the arrival of the new season comes the return of the lawn warriors! From weekend gardeners to professional lawn care specialists, many people are using the rising temperatures to prepare for a spectacular growing season.
This could be the year you get your Homeowner's Association "Lawn of The Year" title or make the cover of Home and Garden magazine. Before any of that happens you've got to have the right grass (or sod) in place. Contrary to popular belief, "The grass isn't always greener on the other side." Before choosing your grass type, you need to know what conditions are ideal for your grass and what conditions you can reasonably provide given your location.
This probably seems simple enough: plants need light, so just plant in the sun! Well, the reality is, different grasses can live, or ideally thrive in certain light conditions. For example, zoysia grass (whether Meyer or Emerald) needs full sunshine, while Fescue will do okay in partial shade. Those terms may be confusing, though. Full sunshine just means eight hours of direct sunlight while partial shade refers to either filtered sunlight for eight hours (through tree coverage usually) or four hours of direct sunlight.
Just remember that no grass will grow well around broad leaf trees, such as Maples or Magnolias. Areas around these plants are classified as dense shade areas.
Will you have to overseed your grass periodically, or will it spread on its own? Depending on your lawn size, this is an important question to consider. Fescue is a higher maintenance grass in this regard and must be overseeded every two years or so. Bermuda and zoysia grasses, on the other hand, are hardier plants but take longer to spread.
Also keep in mind the pH level of your soil prior to seeding your lawn. You can shop online for pH testing kits or visit your local gardening store. After a season, test again as the sod will have depleted to some degree whatever mix you've added the previous season.
So, what's the best sod for you?
Georgia, specifically Atlanta, is in between the USDA's level 7-8 plant hardiness zones, which means that typical temperatures are fairly moderate but humid. So the best sod type for you is whatever sod type you choose, coupled with your intended use, budgetary constraints, etc. Zoysia and bermuda are usually used as field grasses or playground cover. St. Augustine and fescue are favorites of lawn enthusiasts who don't mind a little extra work. Your Atlanta-based landscaping professional will be able to answer more specific questions regarding your yard.