Your lawn and landscape create the frame for your picture-perfect home. It’s the first thing people see when they drive up to your house, so you want the grass to be greener and neat and trim on your side of the fence. Fortunately, Atlanta’s climate makes it easy to grow a lush, green lawn. We get nearly 50 inches of rainfall a year, and our temperatures range between 34 and 90 degrees. The mercury rarely drops below freezing, so Atlanta lawns stay green longer than most. Here is your quickstart guide to lawn care in Atlanta.
The fluctuating seasons puts Atlanta in a transitional zone, meaning both warm-season and cool-season grasses will thrive. We recommend a mixture of both. Choosing the right grass type is the first step toward a healthy, well-manicured lawn.
The 4 Most Popular Grass Types in Atlanta
This warm-season grass stands up well to heavy foot traffic, drought and cold. It’s the most common type of grass for Atlanta lawns, sports fields, and golf courses. Bermudagrass will grow well when planted in sunny areas with high humidity but tends to wilt in the shade.
Since it grows quickly, you may have to mow your lawn twice a week during the summer. We recommend mowing this grass to a height of 1 to 1½ inches and giving it 1½ inches of water a week. You may also want to overseed it with tall fescue to add some green color during the winter when Bermudagrass goes dormant.
A cool-season grass, this one is a favorite for those of you who love walking barefoot on the lawn. This turf works well by itself or blended with other types such as Bermuda. It resists heat and drought but may need more watering than warm-season varieties.
It does best when planted in shady areas where it will need little maintenance. It doesn’t grow very fast, so it only needs mowing every nine days at a height of 2 to 3 inches. It doesn’t bounce back as quickly as Bermudagrass, so it may need reseeding more often.
This warm-season grass is another low maintenance sod. It doesn’t need much fertilizer and will tolerate some shade. It can stand up to heat, but not drought and may need frequent watering during dry periods. It will remain green all winter, but will not survive repeated frosts.
Centipedegrass grows slowly, so you can get away with mowing once every two weeks to a height on 1½ to 2 inches. You will have to dethatch your lawn in the fall before reseeding. Be careful about which grass types you use for overseeding. Ryegrass will compete with the existing turf, eventually killing the centipedegrass.
This tough warm-season turf can stand up to heat and tolerate the cold. It doesn’t need much maintenance and handles pets and kids with ease. Although it’s drought-resistant, Zoysia needs more water during the summer than other warm-season grasses. Its fine texture also makes it perfect for running barefoot across the lawn.
Zoysia will cover your yard with a dense carpet of grass. This quality means you’ll have to aerate and dethatch in the spring. Mow to a height of 1 to 1 ½ inches to keep it green and weed-free all summer.
Atlanta Lawn Maintenance Tips
Never cut more than one-third of the height of your grass. If your grass is too short, it is vulnerable to pests and lawn diseases. Most turfs need a weekly mow until late fall when the growth slows down or stops. Consider varying the pattern and direction each time you mow. Otherwise, your grass blades will lean in one direction, making your lawn look unbalanced. After mowing, leave the clippings behind. They will decompose and fertilize your lawn. If you hire a lawn service professional, make sure to remind this person.
Keep Your Mower Blades Sharp
Dull mower blades will tear the grass instead of cutting it. As a result, your lawn will turn brown. With sharp mower blades, you only need to pass over your lawn once instead of several times to get the job done. Most hardware stores can sharpen them for you, or you can do it yourself in less than an hour. Just make sure you disconnect the spark plugs first.
Set the Right Blade Height
You can adjust the cutting height by raising or lowering the mower’s wheel. Look on the side of your lawnmower and find a knob or lever that adjusts the height for your grass type.
Your lawn will start to look tired and worn out after a summer of use. By raking up all debris and thatch and distributing seed, you can replenish some of those bare patches over the fall and winter. A thinning lawn is an invitation for weeds and pests. You can spread seed over the smaller areas by hand, or rent a seed spreader for the entire lawn.
Aerate and Fertilize
The heavy foot traffic over the summer has likely compacted your soil. Poking tiny holes in the lawn, or aerating, gives the grass a chance to take in more moisture and nutrients. It also raises the lawn’s resistance to diseases and pests. Do this in the fall, just before you add fertilizer. Fertilizing the lawn at the end of September will help it make it through the cold winter. Before deciding which fertilizer to use, find out what your lawn needs. You can get a home soil test kit at your local home improvement store. If you prefer, you can mail a sample the extension office at the University of Georgia, and they’ll test the soil for you and recommend a fertilizer.
In spite of all the rain that blesses Atlanta, your lawn may need a little more moisture before it goes dormant over the winter. Keep your sprinkler ready until the first frost. A few good soakings will give the roots of the grass the strength it needs to make it through the winter. You also want to make sure the new seeds and fertilizer work their way into the soil. If you want to learn more about local watering restrictions, visit Wikilawn’s Atlanta city page.