What is Carpet Grass? - Home Stratosphere

What is Carpet Grass?

There are pros and cons to laying out carpet grass. It is an option that can enhance any lawn. By looking into the positives and negatives, one can decide if it is right for them. Not all regions can have this turf, so it is essential to weigh the options.

A look at a carpet of grass being installed onto the yard.

Some people may think of “The Jungle Room” at Graceland, where Elvis Presley lived when they hear the term “carpet grass.” This is not something new, but it is also not something a person can put down on the floor in their home.

Carpet grass is for outdoor use only (unless you’re adventurous and feel like mowing a grass carpet) and is real grass that grows and needs to be tended to like any lawn, only with slightly lower maintenance. It gets its name because it is laid out like a carpet over the ground, and the grass looks like a carpet when it is appropriately kept up!

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What is Carpet Grass?

Carpet grass is a member of the genus axonopus, which is part of the grass family. This a natural grass type that is heard of under many names, including broadleaf carpet grass, bermudagrass, flatgrass, Louisianagrass, or as petit gazon (which translates to “little grass”) as spoken by the Creole community of Louisiana. One of the best known carpet grass species is axonopus affinis.

Carpet grass is a perennial plant, with coarse leaves and a creeping growth habit. This type of growth habit creates a dense turf-like appearance. It can be grown both from grass seed and it is a rhizomatous plant — this means that once it is established, it will spread like wild fire.

There is almost no other grass species that can compete with carpet grass in terms of color, texture, and density. There is the well known zoysia grass and paspalum grass that are not to literally choke out weeds, so they are all tied for first place.

What Does Carpet Grass Look Like?

Root System

Carpet grass grows from very shallow roots. This means that the plant does not have very good drought tolerance. In order for a plant be able to handle drought stress, the roots must be able to reach levels of the soil that do not dry out as quickly.

Leaf Blades 

You can recognize carpet grass by its blunt, rounded tip leaf, its flat stolon, and wiry stems with branching at the apex. Leaf blades are a deep green color. This type of leaf growth pattern is known as tall fescue growth.

Side view of very densely growing carpet grass gleaming in the sun

Growth Pattern 

Carpet grass has a dense turf like appearance. Each blade of grass grows a seed head which catches on quickly and spreads far and wide. Carpet grass has a weedy appearance, especially if it is allowed to grow, but it fills all the spots of dead grass or areas where the grass is not growing.

If kept up with and kept short, the grass looks like it is a carpet for outdoors. The grass looks like crabgrass and has course blades. Carpet grass shoots up seed stalks, which is difficult to cut, so it is important to mow the lawn at least every five days. It is like a weed in this way.

Because of the individual leaf blades that grow so densely together, it is pretty much impossible for weeds to infiltrate the top soil. For this reason, herbicide is not needed when it comes to carpet grass, which is just another item on the list of appeals.

Where Does Carpet Grass Grow?

Carpet grass is a native plant to the most subtropical and tropical climate regions of North America, Central America, and South America. There is also one axonopus species that is endemic to North Africa as well.

Specifically in the United States, it can be found growing wild in sandy soils all over Texas, Flora, Virginia, Alabama, and Arkansas. Finding a wild carpet grass patch usually indicates low fertility soils that are low in nitrogen. This is common on lawns, well treaded pasture, roadsides, and fields and woods.

Carpet grass prefers to exist in moist soil, partial shade from the sun, and medium to low water levels. They do not respond well to poorly drained soils, though they are quite cold hardy – far more centipede grass, which is more of a warm season grass.

How Should Carpet Grass Be Maintained?

A gardener lightly raking the soil before installing the carpet of grass.

Growing and maintaining carpet grass does take some effort and maintenance, but the benefits are always worth the work. Most of the work comes at the time of planting.

Planting

When laying down the carpet grass, all other plants in the soil must be removed. The exact amount of sand must be added for the carpet grass to survive. Some would say the more sand, the better the grass will grow. Once the sand is spread in the soil, it needs to be levelled. However, once it is established, it will grow happily and enthusiastically.

Mowing

The next most important aspect of maintenance is frequent mowing. Carpet grass grows extremely quickly, and if it not mowed at least every 5 days, and it can quickly grow out of control and can be very difficult to mow again.

Fertilizer

As most grass takes fertile soil to grow, carpet grass is the opposite and needs sand added with a little bit of fertilizer. It is a critical note not to use too much fertilizer. Spreading by the handfuls throughout the layout should suffice.

Watering

During rainy seasons, the grass will not need to be watered, but if rain does not come, then it is mandatory to water the lawn, or the carpet grass will die.

How is Carpet Grass Used?

Beautiful carpet grass lawn perfectly growing in the middle of an ornamental garden

Carpet grass is used where there are patchy areas of a lawn which is dead or have slow growth. People plant it in shady areas where they want the grass to grow like under trees. While carpet grass grows like crabgrass, it fills in the spaces necessary to make a green lawn.

It sprouts quickly, so there is no time wasted in waiting. Once it catches, it will blend in well with other types of grass. Carpet grass stops erosion from occurring. Since it grows in wet areas, it is perfect for maintaining erosion control.

What are the Pros of Carpet Grass?

For the lawn masters, it is all about keeping everything green and trimmed. Where regular grass will not grow, carpet grass will. Under the trees, there is no grass due to lack of sun, tree roots, and suffocating leaf decay. Carpet grass is able to grow under trees. It makes a beautiful landscape to have carpet grass where other species will not grow.

When there is an area where no grass is growing, the land tends to erode. The grass will always keep the soil intact and prevent erosion. Keeping erosion from the areas where grass does not grow is the biggest asset for planting carpet grass.

Other than watering the carpet grass, it is no trouble to keep up with since everyone tends to mow their lawn regardless! Watering and cutting it is the only maintenance. It is inexpensive to maintain and can keep up with foot traffic and still stay green.

When Is It Not a Good Idea to Use Carpet Grass?

For most people who do not want the look of different types of grass or want weeds in their yard, carpet grass is not recommended. If growing in patches, it must be kept into consideration the grass will multiply quickly and spread throughout the yard. It is mostly up to the landowner if they like the look or not of certain weeds. Carpet grass only grows well in sandy soil, so it is not good to plant the grass if the soil is fertile and rich or made for an expensive lawn.

The carpet grass is considered weeds in some locations. If the landowner does not want to mow the lawn every five days, the seed stalks can grow from one to two feet tall and remove the neatness of the property. If the grass is mowed regularly, it will be easy to keep everything the same length. If it is not, the seeds will spread and get out of control. Once it is out of hand, it is almost impossible to regain control.

What are the Cons of Carpet Grass?

A woman walking barefoot on the well-maintained grass lawn.

There are some cons or limitations to having carpet grass. The biggest problem is when there is a drought, the grass will not survive unless it is watered daily. During the seasons, the carpet grass is a little offset from the rest of the species. With increasingly hotter and drier summers, some counties don’t allow for daily lawn watering.

During the springtime, it takes a little longer than the rest of the grass to turn green and grow. It all depends on how much water the grass gets. Most people do not care about carpet grass due to the way it looks. The main thing to remember is it is up to the landowner their cares and not about what other people think.

In the wintertime, if it is cold, the carpet grass will turn brown faster than the other species. This leaves a shorter amount of time with green grass. The worst problem or limitation people have with carpet grass is it is invasive. Once it is planted, it will take over any territory within a short period. It is tougher to control around flower beds, sidewalks, and other locations where the grass can creep up on anything.

FAQs

Is carpet grass a weed?

Carpet grass in most commonly known as a spreading perennial grassy weed. Something is considered as a weed when it spreads rapidly and can cause detriment to other plant life. Carpet grass grows so densely together that is can actually choke out other plant species, and its seeds spread extremely far and quickly.

Is carpet grass the same as centipede grass?

Carpet grass and centipede grass are different grass species though they exhibit extremely similar leaf shapes, growth habit, and root systems. The main difference between them is that centipede grass has fine hairs the grow along the margins of the leaves, hence the term, “centipede”, for the similarity between the hairs and centipede legs.

Is carpet grass soft?

Carpet grass leaves have a blunt end, making them a rather soft grass variety. That is one of the appeals of carpet grass, that walking barefoot through a carpet grass field is like walking on a fabric carpet.

Is carpet grass an invasive species?

Carpet grass is considered as an invasive species in all areas where it is not a native plant.

Can carpet grass grow in sand?

Because carpet grass prefers to exist in well drained soils, sandy soils or loamy soils mixed with sand are the most ideal earth types to plant carpet grass.

Can you over water carpet grass?

Carpet grass grows from very short rhizomatous roots, and therefore they can sometimes be washed away in they are not well established. That being said, they are tolerant to some flooding conditions.

How long does carpet grass take to grow?

Though carpet grass is one of the last species to sprout in the early spring time, carpet grass can maintain its health and color much longer if it properly watered. Once it starts growing, carpet grass grows extremely quickly. It needs to be mowed very frequently so that it doesn’t grow out of control.

How tall does carpet grass get?

Carpet grass will usually grow to be anywhere from 8-20 inches if it is not frequently mowed.

Why does carpet grass turn yellow?

If your field of carpet grass happens to be turning yellow, chances are that it is not receiving enough water, and there has been too much sun.

Will carpet grass grow in shade?

Carpet grass prefers to grow in shady conditions. This is because shaded areas are able to upkeep moist soil for far longer than full sun conditions. Since carpet grass has such shallow roots, the quick drying top soil can very quickly parch the carpet grass plants.

 

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