Home Turf: Keely Knight Gives the ‘Mow-down’ on Making the Most of Your Lawn Investment

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Keely Knight
Knight Design and Consulting’s Keely Knight and her family (Courtesy Photo)

We don’t have grass in our front yard. Every weekend, my husband and I diligently mow our wretched weed patch and dream of the day we can afford to set the whole thing on fire and put down some real, honest-to-goodness sod. Okay, we won’t actually set fire to anything. But it would be so satisfying. In short, we have serious lawn envy.

Because curb appeal and landscaping make a huge impact on a buyer when judging a home’s perceived worth, those tiny blades of grass can amount to a really big deal. We spoke with Keely Knight of Knight Design and Consulting about the types of grasses that grow best here in North Texas, and the best ways to care for them. We recently covered proper lawn watering, so if you missed that, you may want to hop on over and take a few notes.

Come, join me in my lawn envy!

Zoysia grass
Zoysia grass is drought tolerant and discourages pests. (Courtesy Photo)

Zoysia Is ‘By Far, The Best For Texas’

Knight’s favorite by far, this grass will make you want to do lawn angels in your front yard. “I’m a ginormous fan of Zoysia grass,” Knight said. “You just want to throw your shoes off and run around. It’s my favorite. It’s by far the best for Texas.” Knight praises the grass for its drought tolerance and general hardiness. “It takes less water, no diseases, no pests. It’s fabulous.” So why don’t we see it more? “It’s very expensive. It grows super slow, which makes harvesting it more expensive.”

Pros: Because of its slow growth, you can mow every other week. It requires little to no fertilizer and does well in sun and well in moderate, filtered shade.

Cons: Because of its slow growth, it takes a longer time to recover in heavy traffic areas. Also, it’s more expensive at $.90 per square foot. It’s not so great with dense shade.

St. Augustine — A Good In-Between

Knight doesn’t mince any words about St. Augustine grass. “I hate St. Augustine,” she said with a laugh. “I have it in my front yard. It requires so much water. It gets any disease or pest out there. If you don’t water it correctly, or if we have too much humidity, you’ll get all sorts of problems.” That doesn’t deter folks, though. “It’s highly used here because it’s an in-between – it does great in shade or sun. And people like how thick the blades are.”

Pros: With a moderate price, it runs about $.55 per square foot. It does well in dense shade. Once a week mowing is sufficient.

Cons: St. Augustine requires a lot of water, and pests and diseases love it.

Bermuda Gives Good Bang For Your Buck

Bermuda grass gives the most bang for your buck. At about a third of the price of Zoysia, “Bermuda is a like a weed that grows insane here,” Knight said. A finer grass than St. Augustine, “Bermuda is what you’d see on a golf course greens. It’s really short and refined,” she said. “It likes to be mowed a lot and it loves fertilizer. It’s another one of those grasses that doesn’t need a lot of water.”

Pros: Far less expensive than Zoysia, Bermuda runs about $.35 per square foot. Plus, it’s more drought tolerant than St. Augustine.

Cons: Ideally, it ought to be mowed twice a week in the summer. Who has time for that? Also, it’s a no-go for shady yards, requiring full sun to thrive.

Synthetic Turf — A Category Unto Itself

Synthetic Turf
Synthetic turf looks realistic, stays green year round, and is no friend to mosquitoes. (Courtesy Photo)

Synthetic turf is in a category all by itself. “I love synthetic turf,” Knight said. “It’s beautiful and it stays green all the time. It looks so realistic now. It does great in situations where you have so much shade you can’t grass to grow. It’s great relief for areas where you don’t want mud. It’s fabulous!” Another plus? Mosquitoes won’t nest in it. But it’s just shy of perfect. “I will say, the only downfall is if it’s in the full sun. Because it’s plastic, it can get really hot. So that’s why I like it better for shady areas.”

Pros: No mowing, no weeding, no watering, no bugs – it sounds like heaven. It’s also great for pets because it’s so much easier to clean. Synthetic turf stays green all year and it comes with a lifetime warranty.

Cons: It’s expensive. Like, really expensive. We’re talking $7 and $11 per square foot. It can get hot in full sun.

Weeding, Mowing, and Fertilizing

“Mowing your grass is like getting a haircut,” Knight said. “The more you cut it, the stronger the roots grow. It makes it denser and helps cut off weeds.”

As for treating weeds in your lawn, Knight says spraying is the more efficient means. “It’s the fastest, but it’s also having someone with a commercial license spray something you can’t get at Home Depot or Lowe’s,” Knight said. “If you’re okay with it taking a couple of weeks or a month, you can use granules but you have to stay on top of it.”

Knight recommends staying on a fertilizer program. “I like to fertilize around veterans holidays. Like memorial day, the Fourth of July,” she said. “It’s a good a good basis for when to fertilize. I’m a big advocate of Lesco. It’s a great brand. It greens up fast and strengthens the roots. I haven’t really liked the Scots program. They don’t do anything for me.”

As early as the eighth grade, Keely Knight felt a calling to the profession. A graduate of Texas A&M University with a degree in horticulture, she has owned and operated Knight Design and Consulting for the last seven years. She works mostly in East Dallas, Richardson, and Plano.

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Heather Hunter

In addition to a 15-year career in marketing and communications, Heather is an accomplished freelance writer and has contributed to The New York Times’ “Modern Love” column and “The United States of Dating” on National Public Radio. Her blog, This Fish Needs a Bicycle, was syndicated by NBC Universal (iVillage) for four years. As a ghostwriter, her work has appeared in publications such as WIRED and Stadia Magazine

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  1. The_Overdog says

    I’m sorry but zoysia is terrible grass for Texas. By grows “slow”, that means you have to replace any *ANY* holes in your lawn with sod, because it will not repair itself in a season. And the water requirements of bermuda and st augustine (I also don’t much care for it because it’s uncomfortable and in my opinion ugly) are greatly overstated comparatively. Zoysia also grows so slowly, it will be outcompeted by your neighbors’ grass or by weeds blowing in the air.

    So if you’ve got a lawn that doesn’t have to deal with pets and never gets any damage AND most importantly, is maintained by a professional staff and is not adjacent to other lawns with any other type of grass, then zoysia is fine.

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