How to Choose the Right Grass for Your Lawn
Choosing the right grass for your lawn can mean the difference between spending time relaxing an enjoying your yard or spending all your time fighting with a problem yard. Taking care of your lawn comes down to choosing the right type of turf grass. But with all the choices, how do you decide which is the best? Here at Country Landscape and Supply, we help homeowners like you get and maintain the yard of their dreams. To get you started, here are some tips to keep in mind when it comes to choosing the right grass for your lawn:
Narrow Down Your Choices
Where you live and the climate you experience on a regular basis are the most important factors that can and up affecting how your turf grass will perform. There are three main divisions in terms of climate that you need to know about as you look for the right grass for your lawn:
- Northern Zone- This zone is located in the Northern United States and in Canada. It is defined by areas where summers are moderate and winters often are cold. In general, cool-season grasses do the best and varieties such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue are often used in home lawns.
- Southern Zone-This zone is located in the Southern United States and Mexico. It is defined as the areas where hot summers and moderate winters are the norms. In general, warm-season grasses thrive and varieties such as St. Augustine grass, Bermudagrass, centipedegrass, and zoysiagrass are commonly used.
- Transition Zone-This region has hot summers as well as cold winters. This unique combination makes it a challenging area for turf grass. Cool-season grasses often die off in the summer heat, while warm-season grasses often don’t survive the winters. A combination of grasses is often used in lawns in this zone.
Consider the Location of the Lawn
Next, when you are looking for the right type of turf grass for your yard, think about conditions that are most commonly present in your yard. If there are no special challenges, then the warm or cold season grasses or a blend of the two will generally work the best. For difficult sites, such as yard with lots of shade, wet soil,drought-like conditions, or other factors, more consideration as to the type of turf grass you choose may be necessary.
Low-Access Areas: For areas that are hard to reach and will not get a lot of care, fertilizer, or special watering care, buffalograss is a hardy grass that can be a good option. Fine-leaf fescues are known to be hardy yet fairly attractive lawn grasses and they also are good for these types of sites. Centipedegrass is the Southeast grass most often used in low care areas.
Shaded Sites: Shade is tough on turf grass because the sun is what keeps grass green Thankfully there are some varieties that are more tolerant of shady conditions in the yard. Fine-leaf fescues are the most shad tolerant grass type. In the South, the go-to grass is St. Augustine as most of the variants of this grass type are shade tolerant and thrive in low sun conditions.
High-Traffic Sites: Sometimes for high traffic areas, a blend of grass is a good choice because you get a mix of attractive grass that may be more sensitive with resilient grass that may not look as nice. Some varieties of Bermuda grass and centipede grass can hold up fairly well on their own in higher traffic areas of the lawn.
Does the Variety of Grass Really Matter?
In short, the answer is, yes. Each grass type of grass is available in a range of specific varieties, each one offering a unique take and new variations in texture, color, and growth rate. Visually, the differences may be subtle, but things like water need, temperature tolerances, and growth rate can make a huge difference in how well they perform in you yard. Looking at the specifics of your grass choices will help you ensure you find the right grass for your lawn. For example, one variety of St. Augustine might better tolerate diseases and pests, where another variety of St. Augustine can handle warmer weather and drought conditions. If you have problems with insects and pests in your yard a variety that is pest resistant would be the best choice. If you are in an area that gets extreme highs and droughts in the summer then a variety that can handle those conditions would be the best grass for your lawn care needs.
To better understand what the most popular types of turf grass have to offer and where they will perform the best, here is a rundown of the common grasses used today. Within this list of five cool-season and five warm-season turf grass varieties, you are sure to find the right grass for your lawn!
Cool-season grasses are those that are tolerant of northern temperatures and climates. These grass varieties thrive in spring and fall and stay green all winter in moderate temperatures and will go dormant in extreme northern cold snaps. However, they will not hold up well in the summer heat and need a lot of extra water or they will go brown and dormant until the extreme heat passes. Here are the common turf grass types that are classified as cool-season:
1. Kentucky Bluegrass
This is the most popular grass variety used in northern climate lawns. It is also common in coastal transitional zones where highs and lows are not too extreme. Kentucky bluegrass has a dark color and medium texture that is beautiful as a thick carpet of green in the lawn. For best results, most homeowner use a mix of several varieties and also use cool season rye grass.
High Points: Tolerant against cold winter temperatures and offer thick full coverage with minimal watering
Low Points: Doesn’t do good in shade, dies in high heat, and it is a favorite food of grubs
2. Fine-leaf Fescue
This type of grass includes several distinct species, but fescue is easy to identify with its thin and wispy like blades. These grasses are commonly used in seed mixes because they are tolerant of heat and low water and are a hardy and durable grass variety. If you need an easy to care for a lawn, this may just be the right grass for your lawn!
High Points: Requires very little maintenance, is drought tolerant, and grows in the shade
Low Points: Not as attractive when grown on its own and can be a bit thin and sparse
3. Tall Fescue
Tall fescue is a hardy grass that is most commonly used throughout the transitional zone area of the country. Its coarser texture often gets labeled as unattractive, but new varieties are being developed and many of them are quite nice in appearance. Tall Fescue is often used in natural areas as well as in lawn seed mixes on a regular basis.
High Points: Resists thatch development, tolerant of drought and heat, few pest problems
Low Points: Hardly spreads so bare spots are a problem and it is not an overly attractive grass
4. Perennial Ryegrass
This grass is well known and loved by many homeowners because of its dark-color, fine-texture, and easy-care needs. This turf grass species is one that can be used alone but is also commonly found in cool-season seed mixes. It also is commonly used to overseed dormant winter grasses to keep lawns green and beautiful during the colder months.
High Points: very attractive color, hardy and resistant variety, and tolerates high traffic areas
Low Points: Doesn’t spread fast, prone to bare spots, slow to get established at times
Warm-season grasses are defined be their love of the heat and are the varieties which are well-suited for hot dry summers in the South. In areas that get little rain fall during the hot summer months, these are the grasses you will want. With a few exceptions, warm-season grasses won’t do well in the winter and will go dormant. Here are the common varieties that may be the right grass for your lawn:
The original or common variety of Bermudagrass is coarse, but the many hybrid varieties that are now available offer much finer texture and make for a more attractive lawn. The varieties can be used along in lawn coverage or it is often used in warm-season seed blends. It is a hardy and resilient grass which is why it is still so popular today in lawns in the South.
High Points: Spreads quickly, many varieties available, hardy and durable grass
Low Points: Doesn’t tolerate shade and can become invasive with fast growth habits
2. St. Augustinegrass
St. Augustinegrass is a very popular grass in warmer climates. It is known for its wider blades, coarse-texture, and vivid colors. It makes a lush, thick lawn that resists heat and foot traffic very well. It is commonly use in coastal areas and in the Gulf States because of its moderate salt tolerance and its love of the sun and heat.
High Points: Needs little care and maintenance, tolerates shade, thick growth habits
Low Points: Susceptible to chinch bugs, needs supplemental water in drought conditions
This is another grass variety that may be the right grass for your lawn. Zoysiagrass forms a dense, medium-texture turf and is winter hardy to Zone 6. It holds up fairly well to moderately high temperatures and can go a short time in droughtlike conditions. It is fairly low maintenance once it is well established in the lawn.
High Points: Shade and drought tolerant, resists weeds and pests, easy to car for
Low Points: Slow to get established, not good in high traffic areas, cold weather dormant
Buffalograss is a commonly seen turf grass variety in South and Transitional zones. It is best used on low-maintenance sites because it’s a durable and course grass that is very much a ‘wild native’ grass species. It has a gray-green color and fine texture. Though technically a warm-season grass, it can be grown throughout most of the United States and into Canada.
High Points: Tolerates wide climatic extremes and needs little mowing and pet control care
Low Points: Slow to establish, not good with foot traffic, and not very attractive in color
The final variety on the list, this “lazy man’s grass” may just be the right grass for your lawn. It forms a coarse carpet of light to medium green leaves and requires only a moderate amount of care and maintenance. There are several hybrid variations available but the common form is still the most commonly used variety and is the easiest to find.
High Points: Low maintenance, good pest control, good growth and fullness once established
Low Points: Slow to recover from wear and is very susceptible to cold damage in the winter
Contact Us For Your Lawn Care Needs
To learn more about the right grass for your lawn and what varieties are best suited for your location and your needs and your goals, call us today! We here at Country Landscape and Supply are ready to help you with your lawn care needs. If you have questions we have answers. If you are having problems with your lawn we can help. If you are confused and don’t know where to even begin we are here for you. Call now and see how easy it can be to get the lawn of your dreams when you have the experts on your side. We offer free on-site reviews and evaluations so set up your consultation appointment today and let us get you a lawn that you can be proud of. We are here to help with everything from planning to maintenance so make the call now. You will be glad that you did!