Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Greener View

Lawn Should Only Contain One Type of Seasonal Grass

By Jeff Rugg

Q: When we moved into our house a couple of years ago, we noticed that large patches of grass were a light cream brown in early spring and early fall. This area of grass does not look like the rest of the lawn. It has thin blades that are squiggly, and in the late spring and throughout the summer, it turns green and blends in with the rest of our grass.
It seems like the large, long patches are spreading and now we have it throughout our yard. We have over 3/4 of an acre and that is a lot grass to be a different color for so much of the time. It is not like a dead grass color — it is very hard to describe.
Is there anything you can tell us about this grass? We would really like to get rid of it.
A: People moving into a new home often don’t know what kinds of plants are in the yard and are sometimes in for a surprise. In lawns, there are warm-season grasses that are green as long as the weather is warm and cool-season grasses that are green as long as the weather is cool. Cool-season grasses will be green in the heat of summer if irrigated. Some warm-season grasses are hardy for northern areas; they just go dormant when the temperature drops.
It sounds like you have a warm season grass like Zoysia or Bermuda grass mixed in with your cool-season lawn grasses. Generally, lawns look best if they only have one of the two types of lawn grasses. Some areas of the Eastern states — on a line through Tennessee and Kentucky — are in a transition zone that can have both grasses growing well.
To be sure of which kind of grass you have, take a few sprigs to your local extension office or garden center so they can identify them for you.
The problem is that these warm-season grasses are perennial grasses, similar to the other lawn grasses you want to grow. The only way to get rid of them is to use a total plant killer, such as Roundup, to eliminate the good and bad grasses in that area. Then reseed or sod the area.
Plant killers work best when the plant is actively growing. Your bad grasses may not start developing until the weather is warm and your cool-season grasses are already growing. Your new cool-season seed or sod should be planted before you can effectively kill your warm-season grasses. You could wait until fall when the warm-season grass will still be green and easy to kill. And at the same time, fall is a good time to plant cool-season grasses.
E-mail questions to Jeff Rugg, University of Illinois Extension at jrugg@illinois.edu. To find out more about Jeff Rugg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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