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Lawn Tips: What Grass to Plant In North Carolina

Blades of grass in the sunFor North Carolina residents, trying to decide what type of grass to plant in the front yard can be difficult. “There are a lot of factors to consider,” says Grady Miller, Professor and Extension Specialist in the Turfgrass Environmental Research and Education Center at N.C. State University.

Where to begin? Location, location, location, Miller says. "We typically divide the North Carolina into three regions: the mountains, the piedmont, and the coastal plain area. Depending on where you live, you'll have success with warm-season or cool-season grass seed varieties."

Mountain Region Grasses

Cool-season grasses are best and customers should choose from the following grass seed type:

Piedmont Region Grasses

Piedmont growers have success with both warm and cool-season varieties. Cool-season grasses included:

  • Tall fescue
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Fine fescue

Warm-season grasses customers may choose from include the following:

Coastal Plains Region Grasses

Due to the nature and climate of the coastal area, warm-season grass is best. Choose from

  • Bermuda
  • Zoysia
  • Centipede
  • St. Augustine

According to Grady, warm-season grasses grow best in the summer, go dormant at the first heavy frost, and then green up slowly the following spring. They are usually planted by sod in late spring and early summer. "Unlike warm-season grasses, cool-season varieties stay green throughout most of the winter,"; he says. "These grasses look great in spring and fall but have a tendency to show signs of stress in the summer."

Proper Irrigation

A hose laying on bermudagrassWhen it comes to lawn watering, there are two considerations: how much to water and when to do it. "When your grass is actively growing, it needs one inch of water a week. If you're getting adequate rainfall, that counts," Grady says.

It's better to water late in the day, at night when there's less wind, or early in the morning, he adds." You don't want wetness on the blades for more than 12 hours because that can encourage disease.”

Lawn Fertilization

The timing and amount of lawn fertilizer depends on the variety of grass, but generally, Grady advises to fertilize when grass is actively growing. For cool-season grasses, that’s usually in the spring and fall. For warm-season varieties, fertilization should occur in the summer months.

The amount of fertilization depends on your desired results, as well as your variety. "If you add more nitrogen, you'll get darker green, more aggressive growth," Grady says.

NC Lawn Care Tips

  • If you haven't already, conduct a soil test (recommended every few years) to ensure proper pH and acidity levels
  • Know which grass seed will work best with your lawn and region; come talk to a Southern States Lawn Expert for grass seed advice
  • Get rid of weeds using a weed control product
  • For best results, water your lawn at dusk

Recommended Resources For Growing Grass In North Carolina

  • Carolina Lawns: A free publication on establishing and maintaining a Carolina lawn provided by the Center for Turfgrass and Environmental Research and Education.
  • Your Local Southern States: We have lawn experts ready to give you personalized advice on how to grow the best grass for your region. Come into your local store or give us a call. Use our Store Locator to find your nearest location.
  • Grow Like A Pro Lawn How-To Guide: A great resource put together by our grass seed gurus built for farmers and homeowners alike! Step-by-step guide on growing a lush, green lawn this year.
  • General Lawn How-To Articles: Our library of resources from lawn care, equipment maintenance tips, lawn disease & pest control and more.

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