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Beware of too good to be true lawn grasses

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Question advertisements for grass seed mixtures that grow from “Alaska to Florida.” Beware of advertisements that do not include a specific name for the lawn grass being sold. Don’t believe advertisements that claim their grass “grows in impossible spots.”

I’m again getting questions concerning advertisements for the “perfect” lawn grass. Be skeptical when reading advertisements that proclaim an “amazing” grass that produces a “lush, green lawn” with very little care.

Question advertisements for grass seed mixtures that grow from “Alaska to Florida.” Beware of advertisements that do not include a specific name for the lawn grass being sold. Don’t believe advertisements that claim their grass “grows in impossible spots.”

A number of years ago, I called a company that was advertising a grass seed mixture in hopes of finding out specifically what grass seeds were in this “too good to be true” mixture. I was told the seed mixture included Kentucky bluegrass, creeping red fescue and annual ryegrass. This information was not included anywhere in the advertisement. It was advertised as a mixture that would produce an attractive lawn for Florida.

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Because our permanent lawn grasses in North Florida go dormant during winter months, some people prefer to overseed their lawn with ryegrass during fall. The ryegrass seeds germinate and produce a green lawn during winter and early spring; however, as the weather warms in late spring and summer the ryegrass dies. The same would be true for fescuegrass and bluegrass. Ryegrass, fescuegrass and bluegrass are cool season grasses that will not tolerate our hot, humid summer weather. They will not produce a permanent lawn in our area.

The most common types of grasses from which to choose when considering planting a North Florida lawn include Centipede, St. Augustine and zoysia. Bahia and bermuda are used less often but could be considered. None of these produce a perfect lawn. All of these grasses have advantages and disadvantages, which should be looked at and understood before choosing a grass for your lawn.

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Given time, most people in our area will become frustrated with their lawn. As a result, North Florida is a great area to market a too good to be true grass. It’s difficult to grow a lawn here. All of our lawn grasses are native to other parts of the world – they did not exist in our native ecosystem. Many times expectations for a Florida lawn are too high. These factors may cause those too good to be true lawn grasses to appear to be viable options. But be cautious before spending time and money on one of those “perfect” lawn grasses.

For reliable information on Florida lawns, visit http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/yourfloridalawn or contact the UF/IFAS Extension Office in your County.

Larry Williams is the Extension horticulture agent with the Okaloosa County Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida. Contact Larry at 689-5850 or email lwilliams@myokaloosa.com

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