View Full Version : Tropical lawn installation

02-26-2001, 10:42 PM
I am a dislocated Virginian in Puerto Rico and have recently purchased a home here that is in need of landscaping and a lawn. My problem is I have not found a source of information here that suites my level of need. My biggest problem comes from being told I cannot grow grass from seed and must use sod. All the sod installations that I have observed here have one common problem, ankle twisting holes; look great just don't walk on them. I am told that the area is to dry and hot for a seeded lawn to work. I plan to install an automated sprinkler system, so to me the dryness issue is not a problem. I am not an expert in the area of lawns and grasses, but did spend a lot of years growing agriculture products in Va., as in alfalfa, corn, and orchard grass for cattle. I see no reason why the same principles will not work here. I could be totally wrong and the advice I am getting is correct, I am just looking for some different prospectives here. Does any one have experience in this area? At this point I feel as though I will do my own work, including the design of the sprinkler system since no one has quoted based on sound engineering practices, just haphazard systems. Any information will be a help, even if you tell me all I can do is sod; at least my comfort level will increase. My lawn is in the second treatment of Roundup and will be graded once more, then treated again with Roundup several times.

02-27-2001, 01:28 AM
Well, I am by no means an expert in grasses in your area. However, I do know this. The sod they're trying to sell you probably started somewhere as seed.

Good luck. I'm jealous.

02-27-2001, 10:05 AM
Have you tried the cooperative extension service?

Cooperative Extension Service
University of Puerto Rico
College of Agricultural Sciences
PO Box 21120
Rio Piedras, PR 00928
Telephone: (809) 765-8000

Don't know about accuracy of this contact, just found it web; no web address given. The CES is a joint effort by USDA & state land grant universities. Do not know if it is a well developed in territories as in the states.

Certain warm weather grasses like zoysia and St Augustine are just spread by sodding, plugging, or sprigging. I'm sure there must be consideration of environmental circumstances we are not aware of here.

02-27-2001, 03:40 PM
Thanks for the information, I finally found a local extension office today and will visit with them tomorrow. Most of the people here look at me as if I am crazy when I ask all the questions; but I am an ex-farmer turned engineer, so I have a little knowledge to work with.
I agree with the statement about the sod farms, that has been my argument from the beginning. I hope to find a location of a sod farm and give them a visit. Just FYI, today I visited a local irrigation supply store and from all the questions I asked they mistook me for an installer and quoted me installer rates. I may be on my way to start a side business! Living here is great, but finding answers is difficult. Would also be interested in learning about retaining walls, which are basically used for fences here. You may also repy to my email if wanted. fredpr@coqui.net

Eric ELM
02-27-2001, 03:53 PM
If you want to find out about retaining walls, go to the Landscaping Forum. I did a search on walls and here is the results of 16 threads. I bet you can learn a bit here. http://www.lawnsite.com/search.php?query=wall&forumchoice=4&booleanand=yes&searchin=subject&searchdate=-1&searchuser=&searchdateline=&exactname=yes&action=dosearch&getdaily=&pagenum=

02-28-2001, 04:37 PM
Okay people, I am out of options here. Have called every goverment agency here, even had a co-worker who is a local so no problem with language; all to no avail. Everyone thinks I am crazy for wanting a soil test, to seed, and information concerning sprinkler installation. I did find out no one has heard of chemical injection in a residential situation, and no law governing back flow prevention. All this being said, someone out there has to have some ideas. Maybe in the far southern states, the principles will be close. After this I give up and will do what I think is correct, then we will see if the "Gringo es loco".

02-28-2001, 05:38 PM
Could you tell us what varieties of grass are used in existing lawns there?

03-04-2001, 12:28 PM
I have finally found a few answers, the difficulty was finding the grass names in English. The Spanish name is different, and means nothing to me.
There are three types of grasses used here, Bermuda, Zoysia, and Centipede. All three are normally installed here using sod. I have looked at over 100 different installations and they all are what I consider bad. I think most of these grasses are grown from plugs or sprigs, but cannot find a source here for these. No one wants to give up the idea that one must use sod so will not give out where they get the plugs; which is understandable, they have to make money some how. I either need a source of these plugs, or information on how to do the sod and get the results I want. Thanks for the help, gotto go, break is over and back to the yard.

03-04-2001, 02:06 PM
There are companies here in the State that sell Zoysia mail order. That might be an option.They advertise in the Sunday Newspaper (inserts)

03-04-2001, 02:12 PM
We have hot dry conditions here in South Carolina with a red clay(like cement in the summer) surface. Those grasses you mentioned arewhat grow best here. I dont see why you cant just order centipeed seeds from the mainland and plant it the way you want to. Soding may be what they are use to but the other way may work too. Just waite a few days after a good soaking rain and areate and throw the seed out. Zoysia and bermuda are always planted by plugs and sod here. never tried to plant bermuda sense people mostly want to kill it. But you can get centipeed seeds now and for the past few years. Centiceed is what i think they call it. Under very dry conditions centipeed will turn brown unlike zoysia and bermuda. But sense you have a sprinkler system that shouldnt be a problem.
Good Luck

[Edited by Charles on 03-04-2001 at 07:17 PM]

Kansas Turf Man
03-05-2001, 01:30 AM
SOD is the best way to go. It doesn't matter where you live, Sod will always give the best results if installed properly. It is the only way to get a great looking lawn in hours. If done right the seems are not even visible. Your lawn will ultimately look the best if you use sod grown by a professional. If you need mor information on sod here is the industries Professional leader. Turfgrass Producers International. http://www.turfgrasssod.org check it out you will end up with the same feeling that everyone of my customers has had after using sod. It's the best way to go. Even financially. Look at the long run. months or years

I really wish I was a little closer to the equator.:)

03-05-2001, 09:30 AM
OK dislocated, one last try. The main reason to seed is that you are starting the grass plant in an environment it can adapt to from the beginning. There are perfect environments for each type of grass, but the only thing perfect about nature is its randomness. For any plant to establish from seed, it has to have the conditions it is genetically programmed to expect.

In the case of using sod, it is used because it is easy. No time lag, instant lawn? But, what about the economic process? The sod farmer needs a plant that will come to market as soon as possible - while this is best for him, is this grass the best for your site? The sod farmer provides the perfect growing medium so his product is ideal - few lawn areas have this perfect environment.

In most areas, to sod you have 1-6 choices, depending on how many sod farms are nearby - with seed, you have thousands of choices to select proper plants for your environment. The reason sodded lawns look so bad in a few years is that the site has not been properly prepared: the sod is cut from the perfect growing medium, and laid out on a lifeless soil. The stress on the plant is great, and it takes 3-5 years in our area for the stressed sod to adapt to the new medium and grow properly. If you seed, the germinating seed knows no other medium than where it has been sown, and it is adapted from the start. In new houses, sometimes front lawns are sodded for instant appearance & stability, and back yards are seeded for economy. Invariably in this situation, by the second year the seeded areas are the better lawn. Only in the case where the sodded site has been properly prepared will the sod retain the initial lush appearance.

I wonder if use of sod in your area is based on practicality or economy (or perhaps both!). Perhaps seeding attempts in the past, without good irrigation systems, have resulted in excessive labor, watering, reseeding, etc., so that the sodding is in fact a cheaper way. If you are working an area over 2000ft², you may want to experiment with your seeding in just a portion of the turf area. Thus you would not have a major total overhaul if you are wrong about seeding. I would use three sections: sod on existing soil, small area of sod on improved soil (a test in case seed is total failure), 1-2K area of seed on existing (or improved) soil. Then over the next year or 2 you could make your own judgement about the best way to establish lawn on your site. Sorry, but the true test of any endeavor is the experience, especially with plants.

Good luck, and if you do not come back here to give your results, I would be interested in hearing them myself: GroundKprs@aol.com, alternate: JimMc101@home.com

03-05-2001, 03:29 PM
I agree GroundKprs, I have had centipeed seed grow nicely out of ground that had no prep for many years. Ground that has had erosian problems. Centipeed will turn brown in a drought but it will come back green with a weeks worth of rain without replanting. Its a running grass too.

03-06-2001, 10:18 PM
Thanks for all the help. I like the idea of doing test plots and have already begun to try them. I have found some sources here for seed finally and am trying different types of grass in different areas. I will either come back here, or email those that want to know the results. Consider yourselves lucky to be living on the mainland. I do have wonderful weather year round, but do not have the resources available here. I did not know how much the Cooperative Extension Service used to help me, until I needed this service and cannot get it here. Yes, the service is offered, just not developed to the degree it is in the states. This is a total new experience, the houses are concrete, the fences are block and concrete, and the lawns are in square meters and tiny instead of acres.
Again, thanks and if any one wants information about PR, I will provide what I can, just ask.

03-07-2001, 12:08 AM
Tell us if you still like the weather there this summer with the high humidity and heat. :)