Fall is a great time to plant turf grass in Valencia County. With New Mexico’s climate, placing high importance on selection, preparation and maintenance of grasses is crucial for enjoying a green, luscious lawn in the summer months. There are several factors to consider when planning to plant turf grass.
There are two basic classifications for grasses, cool season and warm season. Cool season grasses are generally suggested for the northern portion of New Mexico, and warm season grasses for the southern portion. However, due to the cooler temperatures of our springs, falls and nights, cool season grasses can be grown with success throughout the state.
Understanding the different types of grasses can help planters develop a basic knowledge of what seed to plant for their specific area. But, there are also other factors to consider that will influence what, when and how you plant your turf grass.
A first consideration is your location. How much traffic this location will receive can influence the type of seed to plant. Grass species have different levels of traffic resistance and choosing the right seed for the location is crucial to the longevity of the lawn.
Understanding the type of soil can determine modifications needed for seed success. You can gain greater understanding of the soil on your property by having your soil tested. The Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service can provide information on how to submit a soil sample and determine proper protocols to modify your soil.
Depending on your soil test results, there is a high chance a top soil will need to be added to reach an optimal grass growing environment. Ridding the bad plants or weeds already growing in the area is an important step as is preparing the soil by mowing, tilling and possibly spraying the area.
Water availability is another factor in your seed decision. Cool season grasses require more water and warm season grasses utilize water more efficiently. Will you be able to put in a water system where you are planting, or will you be moving a sprinkler system around? If you are installing an irrigation system, be sure to place the system after you have prepared the ground and mark the areas where the heads are to avoid damage.
Once the seed has been determined, consider the preferred planting time for your type of turf grass. In Valencia County, planting cool season grass is recommended in August to September. Warm season grasses are generally suggested for planting the middle of May to August. If you are planning to plant your lawn this fall, make sure your grass selection is a cool season grass. Also, be sure to think of the other factors previously mentioned and if a cool season grass is not right for you, consider choosing a warm season grass and plant this coming spring.
When seeding, water more frequently in order to keep the seeds from drying out. Avoid over-watering and creating puddles of water for proper seed establishment. Once your seed is grown, maintenance will be crucial.
The type of seed planted has a preferred mowing height. Mowing too short can cause damage to the lawn. A general rule to keep in mind is to mow only one third of the grass height. The grass should be fairly dry and mowing equipment should be sharp to reduce uprooting as well.
If you are planning to use sod rather than seed, soil preparation is the same as seeding with an emphasis on your soil being level. The sod base needs to have contact with the soil in order to form strong roots. In Valencia County, the ideal time to lay sod will be in the spring, summer and fall. Planting in extreme heat can damage the grass and it should be laid relatively quickly once received. Be sure to keep the sod moist when laying and out of direct sunlight.
Even though we live in the desert, a lush lawn can be achieved with proper preparation, seed selection and an ideal management strategy. Understanding how much water is available in your area is a key component for your lawn success.
If you have further questions on seed selections or turf grass management please call the Valencia County Cooperative Extension Office.
To register for an upcoming program, call the Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service at 565-3002. For more information, visit valenciaextension.nmsu.edu.
•Homeschool Extension Videos: Videos or presentations can be requested for home-schooling families for science and agriculture. A list of topics being offered for the fall semester are available upon request. Contact Sierra Cain at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
•Valencia County 4-H Enrollment: The new enrollment year for 4-H begins Oct. 1 and ends Jan. 15. Please call the office for more information on enrolling or email Sierra Cain at email@example.com. You can also visit our webpage for 4-H information.
(Visit NMSU Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service, facebook.com/NMSUValenciaCES, for upcoming programs, creative recipes, health tips, and fun activities.
If you are an individual with a disability who is in need of auxiliary aid or service to participate in a program, please contact the Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service office at 565-3002 two weeks in advance of event.)
Sierra Cain, guest columnist
Sierra Cain is the Valencia County 4-H/Youth Development agent for the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service.