Tag Archive: Turf

Tired of Turf? Try Groundcover Alternatives Instead!

If you’re like me, growing turfgrass is often more of a hassle than anything else.  Regardless of the species you plant, none tolerates shade well and it can seem like there is a never-ending list of chores and expenses that accompany lawn grass:  mowing (at least one a week during the summer), fertilizing, and constantly battling weeds, disease and bugs.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an acceptable alternative, at least for the parts of the lawn that get a little less foot traffic or are shady?  Turns out there is!  Enter the wonderful world of perennial groundcovers!

Perennial groundcovers are just that, plants that are either evergreen or herbaceous (killed to the ground by frost, similar to turfgrass) and are aggressive enough to cover the ground quickly.  Once established, these solid masses of stylish, easy to grow plants serve many of the same functions traditional turf lawns do without all the hassle: choke out weeds, provide pleasing aesthetics, reduce erosion and runoff, and provide a habitat for beneficial insects and wildlife.

The two most common turfgrass replacements found in Northwest Florida are Ornamental Perennial Peanut (Arachis glabra) and Asiatic Jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum); though a native species of Mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa) is gaining popularity also.  All of these plants are outstanding groundcovers but each fills a specific niche in the landscape.

  Perennial Peanut Lawn

Perennial Peanut is a beautiful, aggressive groundcover that spreads through underground rhizomes and possesses showy yellow flowers throughout the year; the show stops only in the coldest winters when the plant is burned back to the ground by frost.  It thrives in sunny, well-drained soils, needs no supplemental irrigation once established and because it is a legume, requires little to no supplemental fertilizer.  It even thrives in coastal areas that are subject to periodic salt spray!  If Perennial Peanut ever begins to look a little unkempt, a quick mowing at 3-4” will enhance its appearance.

   Asiatic Jasmine


Asiatic Jasmine is a superb, vining groundcover option for areas that receive partial to full shade, though it will tolerate full sun.  This evergreen plant sports glossy dark green foliage and is extremely aggressive (lending itself to very rapid establishment).  Though not as vigorous a climber as its more well-known cousin Confederate Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), Asiatic Jasmine will eventually begin to slowly climb trees and other structures once it is fully established; this habit is easily controlled with infrequent pruning.  Do not look for flowers on this vining groundcover however, as it does not initiate the bloom cycle unless allowed to climb.

Sunshine Mimosa

For those that prefer an all-native landscape, Sunshine Mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa), also known as Sensitive Plant, is a fantastic groundcover option for full-sun situations.  This herbaceous perennial is very striking in flower, sending up bright pink, fiber-optic like blooms about 6” above the foliage all summer long!  Sunshine Mimosa, like Perennial Peanut, is a legume so fertility needs are very low. It is also exceptionally drought tolerant and thrives in the deepest sands.  If there is a dry problem spot in your lawn that receives full sun, you can’t go wrong with this one!

As a rule, the method of establishing groundcovers as turfgrass replacements takes a bit longer than with laying sod, which allows for an “instant” lawn.  With groundcovers, sprigging containerized plants is most common as this is how the majority of these species are grown in production nurseries.  This process involves planting the containerized sprigs on a grid in the planting area no more than 12” apart.  The sprigs may be planted closer together (8”-10”) if more rapid establishment is desired.

During the establishment phase, weed control is critical to ensure proper development of the groundcover.  The first step to reduce competitive weeds is to clean the site thoroughly before planting with a non-selective herbicide such as Glyphosate.  After planting, grassy weeds may be treated with one of the selective herbicides Fusilade, Poast, Select, or Prism.  Unfortunately, there are not any chemical treatments for broadleaf weed control in ornamental groundcovers but these can be managed by mowing or hand pulling and will eventually be choked out by the groundcover.

If you are tired of the turfgrass life and want some relief, try an ornamental groundcover instead!  They are low-maintenance, cost effective, and very attractive!  Happy gardening and as always, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office for more information about this topic!


Author: Daniel J. Leonard – d.leonard@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Walton County

Daniel J. Leonard

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/05/18/tired-of-turf-try-groundcover-alternatives-instead/

Fall Turf Issues

Fall Turf Issues

St. Augustinegrass roots rotted due to take-all root rot. (Photo Credit: IFAS Photos)

St. Augustinegrass roots rotted due to take-all root rot. (Photo Credit: IFAS Photos)

The crisp air of fall is upon us. Maybe. We live in northwest Florida and we are not experiencing the change in weather just yet. With the change in weather coming, we are having specific issues in turfgrass lawns and are sure to have others in the near future. Extension agents in the western panhandle have come into contact with several St. Augustine lawns with symptoms and signs of take-all root rot (Gaeumannomyces graminis var. graminis) and we can soon expect with cooler temperatures for Large Patch to be rearing its ugly head.

Early aboveground symptoms of take-all root rot. (Photo Credit: IFAS Photos)


Take-all root rot is sometimes referred to as a “stress disease”, as it is brought on by stressful weather conditions and improper management. Periods of rainfall can provide conditions for the disease to affect all warm season grasses. Other stresses such as improper mowing height, improper irrigation, and improper fertilization can worsen the situation. For example, St. Augustinegrass, except dwarf cultivars, should be mowed at 3.5 to 4 inches and the mower should never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at any cutting. With the current high temperatures and prolonged periods of rainfall it can be difficult to follow this practice. When a homeowner does not mow the lawn in a timely manner and lets the lawn grass get much too high and cuts more than 1/3 of the grass blade, this can become a stress to the lawn. Fungicide sprays can be made during favorable environmental conditions, before symptoms are seen to protect from infection with take-all root rot for high valued properties. To learn more about take-all root rot refer to this University of Florida/IFAS Extension publication: Take-all Root Rot

With the fall weather coming, please be sure to read and learn about large patch disease as well. This can brought on by temperatures of less than 80 degrees and high humidity or extended periods of rainfall. Read the University of Florida/IFAS Extension publication for more information: Large Patch

For any other information needed regarding proper lawn management, please visit  Your Florida Lawn or contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.



Author: Blake Thaxton – bthaxton@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent I, Commercial Horticulture

Blake Thaxton

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/09/29/fall-turf-issues/

Panhandle Turf Fertilization Workshop: March 4th or 11th

Panhandle Turf Fertilization Workshop: March 4th or 11th

Turf Day 2016

March 4th Workshop, Gulf Breeze Location, Registration on Eventbrite

March 11th Workshop, Panama City Location, Registration on Eventbrite




9:00-9:25 Opening Session: Introduction to lawn fertilization, when to fertilize and why proper timing is important, the importance of having a soil test

9:35-11:35  Four concurrent 25-minute sessions:

  • Soil profile example, soil texture example, soil test kits, soil test interpretation

  • Fertilizer spreader calibration

  • Fertilizer products for use on turf landscapes

  • Enviroscape demonstration – Experience how fertilizers and other potential pollutants can contaminate our waterways

11:45-12:00  Closing Session – The importance of best management practices in fertilizer use


Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.

Matthew Orwat

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/02/09/panhandle-turf-fertilization-workshop-march-4th-or-11th/

Doveweed: A Warm Season Turf Problem Most Visible In Fall

Doveweed: A Warm Season Turf Problem Most Visible In Fall

Figure 1. Doveweed patch in St. Augustinegrass sod.

______________________Figure 1. Doveweed patch in St. Augustinegrass sod.__________________________

Ramon Leon, WFREC Weed Specialist

Doveweed (Murdannia nudiflora) is a summer annual weed species that belongs to the dayflower family. Over the last three years, this weed has become an important weed problem in residential lawns and sod production.

This weed has two key characteristics that make it successful. First, its seeds germinate late during the spring when soil temperatures reach 65-70°F. This represents a problem because at this time the effect of preemergence (PRE) herbicides applied in February or March might be too low to provide good doveweed control. Second, the leaves of this weed can be confused with St. Augustinegrass and centipedegrass leaves, and many people do not notice doveweed until the plants are large and are displacing the turf. Doveweed leaves are thick with a shiny rubbery texture. The plant produces creeping stems (stolons), and mowers can break these stolons spreading this weed across the field.

It is very important to keep in mind that doveweed prefers wet areas, so drainage issues or over-watering will favor the establishment and growth of this weed. For this reason, ensuring irrigation is not excessive is a key management practice to control this problem. Another cultural practice that plays a major role on doveweed management is mowing. Mowing too short and too frequently will favor doveweed because its leaves will grow horizontally avoiding the mower blades. Chose a mowing height that allows good ground cover , yet only removes a third of the turf leaf blades.

Figure 2. Individual doveweed plant showing flowers, fruits, and stolons with root in nodes.

___________Figure 2. Individual doveweed plant showing flowers, fruits, and stolons with root in nodes.________


Doveweed is easier to control before emergence than when plants are well established.  Atrazine is one of the most effective herbicides to control doveweed. A maximum rate of 1 lb. of active ingredient (ai) per acre (A) and no more than 2 lb. ai per year are recommended to achieve both adequate control and avoid turfgrass injury. Atrazine should be applied right before or soon after doveweed emerges to maximize control.

For PRE control, S-metolachlor (Pennant Magnum™), dimethenamid-P (Tower™), and indaziflam (Specticle™) are herbicides that can considerably reduce doveweed establishment, especially if the application is done closer to doveweed emergence timing. These herbicides also provide good control of other important weed species such as crabgrass and goosegrass, which emerge earlier in the spring. In order to control early emerging weeds and doveweed, split applications are preferred. For example, the first application is done at the end of February or early March and the second one 4 to 6 weeks after. In this way, we can extend PRE control until doveweed starts emerging.

If we observe doveweed emerging after PRE applications, we have several postemergence (POST) herbicides that will provide control, as long as the plants are less than 2 inches in size and have not produced stolons. Products containing 2,4-D and dicamba can provide fair control of doveweed. However, repeated applications or applications in combination with other herbicides will be required for adequate control. There are commercial products with formulations that combine 2,4-D or dicamba with other herbicides such as mecoprop-p, carfentrazone (Quicksilver™), thiencarbazone and iodosulfuron (e.g., Celsius™, Tribute Total™). This type of three− or four−way combination can provide enhanced doveweed control.  If doveweed has fully displaced the turf in spots, it is probably easier and more effective to kill doveweed with a directed application of glyphosate (RoundUp™) and re-seed or re-sod the area.

Because doveweed seeds can live for several years in the soil, it will take two to three years of continuoous control to eliminate doveweed populations. Although herbicides are useful tools to control doveweed, the most important factor to prevent doveweed problems is to have vigorous healthy turf. Doveweed requires a lot of sunlight, so if the turf effectively shades the ground, doveweed will have a hard time growing and producing new seed.

For more information on managing turf weeds download:

2012 UF Turgrass Pest Control Guide


Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/12/04/doveweed-a-warm-season-turf-problem-most-visible-in-fall/

Which Turf Should I Choose?

Which Turf Should I Choose?

Some times the lawn just gets away from us.  It can be completely invaded by weeds or have a devastating disease or insect pest cause total destruction.  If your lawn is problem prone there are many cultural practices that can be modified to ensure a successful lawn, but sometimes the lawn is in need of a fresh start and needs to be completely reestablished.  If over 50% of the lawn is undesirable  than it is time to take action to develop better lawn.

What are the factors that may have caused your lawn to decline so badly?  Well here are some common problems that may need to  be overcome as you move your lawn into its new era:

Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Agent for lawn recommendations, Photo Credit: Blake Thaxton

Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Agent for lawn recommendations, Photo Credit: Blake Thaxton

As a new lawn is established, correcting these problems will help to ensure the investment will be better taken care of in the future.

Which turf should I choose for my next lawn?  Try to answer these questions before you decide:

  • How much maintenance can I provide?
  • What do I expect aesthetically?
  • Are there any site limitations ?

Here is a publication from Alabama Cooperative Extension to help you choose the correct turfgrass for your next lawn: Selecting Turfgrasses for Home Lawns (while looking at the tables use the South adaptation for the Florida panhandle)

Once the turfgrass type has been chosen, a variety must be chosen.  Here are some recommendations:

  • Centipede – ‘Common’
  • Zoysia – ‘Empire’, ‘UltimateFlora’, ‘El Toro’
  • St. Augustine – ‘Palmetto’, ‘Classic’

Get more information on Lawn Management in the Florida Lawn Handbook


Author: Blake Thaxton – bthaxton@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent I, Commercial Horticulture

Blake Thaxton

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/03/24/which-turf-should-i-choose/