We have started to develop a demonstration turf grass plot area on the Headquarters Farm south of our offices. It will complement the raised bed gardens and demonstration fruit orchard that are already established. The turf plots will be ready for viewing in the spring of 1998. The species to be displayed include warm season grasses such as common and hybrid bermudagrasses, drought tolerant buffalograss, zoysia, and St. Augustinegrass. Cool season species, to be seeded this fall, include tall fescue and perennial ryegrass. These turfgrasses will give visitors a good "side by side" contrast of the different turfs and their response to the different environments we experience in southern Oklahoma.
A selected group of grasses will be seeded, plugged, sprigged, and sodded to demonstrate the time it takes each one to cover its own 10' x 10' plot area. Also, as part of the demonstration, proper cultural practices such as fertility rate/timing and mowing height will be used to maintain optimum turf growth and density.
For those wanting to plant cool season turfgrasses, September is an excellent time to plant the tall fescue and perennial ryegrasses. The tall fescues are recommended for the entire state; however, the perennial ryegrasses are more adapted to the northern part of the state. Tall fescue seeding rates are from 5 to 10 pounds per 1000 square feet.
Perennial ryegrasses are seeded at 4 to 8 pounds per 1000 square feet. Both of these turfgrasses demand irrigation during the summer months and prefer shaded sites. Before seeding the cool-season turfgrasses, the warm season grasses like bermudagrass should be sprayed with a contact herbicide such as Roundup or Kleenup. Wait a week to 10 days to allow the treatment to control weeds and competitive grasses before tilling and raking the area smooth.
Apply a balanced fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium at the rate of 1 to 2 pounds 1000 square feet. This is called a starter fertilizer. To ensure proper seeding distribution the seeding rate is divided in half, one half is broadcast north and south and other half is broadcast east and west. Lightly roll the seeded area with a heavy roller to push the seeds into firm contact with the soil.
A rake or drag maybe used to lightly cover the seed. Keep the area moist for at least two weeks to prevent the seedlings from drying out. Fertilize the cool-season grasses in October, December, March, and May. Mow the young seedlings when they reach 2 to 3 inches in height. The suggested mowing height is 2.5 inches in the spring and fall and 3 inches for the fescues in the summer months.