Selecting the type of turfgrass you want in a lawn is probably one of the most enjoyable parts of being a homeowner in North or South Carolina. You don’t want to just pick a grass that is aesthetically appealing, though. One of the main factors that goes into making a decision on which turfgrass you want is how much upkeep you will need to perform on it. It is recommended for homeowners to research how much maintenance goes into a turfgrass before making the commitment to purchase and install it. It is also important for these low maintenance turfgrasses to thrive in North and South Carolina climates. For many homeowners, the grass that consists of the lowest possible maintenance is the best option.
What sort of maintenance goes into grass?
Each grass slightly varies in terms of maintenance requirements. All natural turfgrasses require mowing, watering, fertilization, weed control, insect control and fungus control—at least to some extent. The trick is finding the grass that requires less maintenance than others. For example, some grasses don’t have to be mowed as frequently as other varieties. This is partially due to how much they’ll grow in a period of time (growth rate). If you’re a homeowner who really hates having to mow your lawn every week or every other week, a grass that requires as little mowing as possible is a big “pro” in the decision making process. Narrowing down what specific maintenance you don’t want to perform as often will help you make a better decision.
Which grass is best for low maintenance?
There are several turfgrass listed below that are really known for their low maintenance properties in comparison to other grasses on the market in the Carolinas. The answer to this question, however, greatly depends on what you are looking for. As previously stated, narrowing down what specific maintenance you don’t want to perform as often will help you make a better decision. Every turfgrass is different from one another, and have a variety of different characteristics to offer.
The Best Zoysia Grass for Low Maintenance in the Carolinas
EMPIRE® Zoysia is a turfgrass that checks all the boxes. This grass is easy to take care of and continues to maintain great color. EMPIRE has a very dense canopy. Its canopy is actually more dense than that of Palmetto St. Augustine’s, which strongly competes against weeds and allows for less chemical herbicides to be applied. EMPIRE is also a chinch bug resistant turfgrass, which a lot of homeowners in the South experience. If you’ve had a problem with billbugs in the past, you should put down a preventative insecticide, but generally speaking, EMPIRE doesn’t have a lot of insect problems.
You may need to mow every 7–10 days during the active growing season at a height of 1–2 inches. EMPIRE also allows the water supply to be shut off in severe periods of drought without permanently harming the turfgrass. EMPIRE’s natural dormancy mechanism allows it to go off color and preserve itself in times of drought, but its color will come right back. St. Augustines, in comparison, hold their color longer, but will start turning brown from drought and actually die quicker. This turfgrass also recovers from damage quickly, so when damaged areas appear, weeds generally won’t start to grow in the bare spots. EMPIRE’s biggest low maintenance characteristics are its insect and weed resistance. EMPIRE:
- Has a denser canopy that makes it more competitive against weeds than St. Augustines,
- Is chinch bug resistant and fends off other insects well,
- Bounces back from periods of drought fast,
- Is very wear tolerant,
- Has a rapid damage recovery, and
- Thrives in tropical and intense climates like Florida.
To learn more about the maintenance EMPIRE requires, visit our EMPIRE Homeowner Maintenance Guide.
InnovationTM Zoysia is a newer, more versatile zoysia grass developed by researchers at Kansas State University and Texas A&M University. This zoysia grass variety is hardy yet attractive, has a very good shade tolerance and is easy to maintain. Aesthetically, Innovation is an appealing dark green color with a medium-to-fine texture. Innovation has a denser canopy than that of other zoysias on the market such as Meyer, which makes it more likely to outcompete weeds. It also demonstrates resistance to cold, disease and insects so that less money and time is spent on repairing damaged turf. Innovation has a faster establishment grown-in and damage recovery rate than Meyer. Innovation:
- Has a denser canopy that makes it more competitive against weeds,
- Is bluegrass billbug resistant and fends off other insects well,
- Has a rapid growth rate that recovers from damage quickly, and
- Is cold hardy, allowing it to survive in colder temperatures throughout the transition zone.
To learn more about the maintenance Innovation requires, visit our Innovation Homeowner Maintenance Guide.
The Best St. Augustine Grass for Low Maintenance in the Carolinas
Palmetto® St. Augustine is a semi-dwarf St. Augustine, meaning it is naturally shorter in height. This means you will need to do less mowing with Palmetto than with other St. Augustine varieties. Palmetto’s blades are also shorter and more compact, allowing for a stronger weed resistance. This St. Augustine variety adapts well to a wide range of climates and temperatures, which allows for less repairs caused by weather including winter kill due to its cold tolerance. Palmetto:
- Is a semi-dwarf St. Augustine allows for less mowing,
- Has a compact canopy that outcompetes weeds,
- Adapts well to climates and has reduced winter kill, and
- Has a stronger cold tolerance allowing for less repairs.
To learn more about the maintenance Palmetto requires, visit our Palmetto St. Augustine Homeowner Maintenance Guide.
If you are a homeowner who lives in North or South Carolina and have a lot of shade in your lawn, be sure to check out our other Sod University article on The Best Grass for Shade in the Carolinas.