In New Mexico, Cool Season grasses generally can be used anywhere north of Socorro, including the Cloudcroft, Ruidoso, and Silver City areas. Warm Season grasses are more adapted to the southern part of the state.
However, this general rule oversimplifies the situation. In most parts of the state, the climate is semi-arid, and daily seasonal temperatures can fluctuate widely due to the high altitude. This creates a dilemma about which turfgrass species are the most suitable.
The semi-arid, low precipitation climate suggests that Warm Season grasses are more appropriate. But low temperatures, due to the high elevations, particularly in the winter, make Cool Season grasses the better choice.
Because of the cool fall, winter, spring and relatively cool summer nights, Cool Season grasses can be grown successfully almost anywhere in New Mexico under regular irrigation conditions.
However, if water consumption is a concern, the lack of sufficient precipitation makes Warm Season grasses the better choice. With the introduction of improved cold tolerant Warm Season grasses, New Mexicans can grow low-water-use, Warm Season almost anywhere in the state without losing the grasses to winter kill.
Bermudagrass is the species most frequently used in the lower elevations of southern New Mexico. Many new and improved seeded varieties have been developed and released during the last 10 years.
Homeowners now have a choice of varieties that are denser and finer textured than the almost extinct seed of common bermudagrass. Bermudagrass spreads aggressively by stolons (above ground runners) and rhizomes (below ground runners) and can become a nuisance when it invades flower beds and gardens. Also, cold-tolerant seeded and vegetative varieties are available that withstand lower winter temperatures.
This species is more drought tolerant and can be sustained on moderately less water compared with bermudagrass. Improved seeded buffalograsses are now available. They are denser and of higher quality (more attractive) than the older, dual-purpose forage varieties yet not as dense as traditional lawn grasses. Special care must be taken during establishment, especially in weed control.(more attractive) than the older, dual-purpose forage varieties yet not as dense as traditional lawn grasses. Special care must be taken during establishment, especially in weed control.
Improved zoysiagrass varieties have been introduced that establish more quickly than previous varieties. However, zoysiagrass still establishes slower than bermudagrass. The newer varieties are very dense and can be grown successfully in the cooler areas of New Mexico.
Improved and newly released varieties of perennial ryegrass are well adapted to most of New Mexico and thus their use has increased greatly. These varieties establish quickly and provide, good cold tolerance and winter color, but only adequate heat tolerance. Even when irrigated heavily, summers in southern New Mexico can be too hot for perennial ryegrass to survive.
The use of Kentucky bluegrass should be limited to the cooler parts of New Mexico. Unlike perennial ryegrass, which is a bunch type turfgrass, Kentucky bluegrass spreads by rhizomes and withstands moderate traffic. Because of the rhizomes, Kentucky bluegrass recuperates well from wear injury. On athletic fields, it can be used in mixtures with perennial ryegrass and/or tall fescue.
Due to its heat and drought tolerance, it is a good general purpose turfgrass for New Mexico. Tall fescue is a tall-growing, coarse- to medium-textured, bunch-type turfgrass that can be established by seed or sod. Tall fescue resists heavy wear and high temperatures. When adequately irrigated, it can be grown successfully in all parts of New Mexico. In warmer areas in the south, a tall fescue stand can be weakened and can deteriorate through the invasion of bermudagrass.
Professional turfgrass associations: Southwest Turfgrass Association
If you decide to hire someone to manage your weeds, ask to see their Commercial Pesticide Applicator's license. Anyone who uses herbicides in their lawn care business must be licensed by NMDA. Each individual who deals with the herbicide must be licensed and should be able to show you his or her license. You can also contact NMDA to confirm the validity of a pesticide license.