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Choosing The Best Lawn Grass For Your Area

The lawn is the most critical part of any landscape. It's the canvas that holds together the colors of the surrounding plant life. Beautiful grass increases the aesthetic and economic value of the landscape, provides recreational surfaces, controls erosion and other ecological benefits. Choosing the best grass for your area or region is the most important step in establishing a lawn.

Best Grass in Hot Climates

Bahia

Grows short requiring low maintenance, dense grass makes great defense for weeds.

Bermuda

High traffic tolerant, drought and salt resistant, better in full sun, builds thatch quickly requires more frequent mowing.

Seashore Paspalum

High traffic tolerant, also tolerates sandy soil, salt and moist climates and drought conditions.

St. Augustine

Traffic tolerant, tough, dense grass makes defense for weeds, high maintenance with watering, mowing and fertilizing.

Zoysia

Slow growth rate, drought tolerant but does better with frequent watering, thatch builds quickly.

Best Grass in Cool Climates

Fine Fescue

Drought resistant, low traffic areas, shade tolerant, disease resistant.

Kentucky Blue

Best grass in cool climates prefers part sun to full sun. It does not tolerate salt (noticeable in driveway edges where salt is used for snow and ice removal) And it grows to fill in bare spots rather quickly.

Ryegrass

Traffic and drought tolerant, drought resistant but does better with frequent watering, prefers partial to full sun.

Bahia

It grows short while requiring low maintenance. It is a dense grass and makes a great defense for weeds.

Bermuda

High traffic tolerant strong in drought and salt resistant. It is better in full sun. It builds thatch and quickly requires more frequent mowing.

Buffalo

Native North American, slow growth rate, drought tolerant, low traffic, dormants to brown shade when too hot or too cold

Tall Fescue

Low maintenance, low traffic, drought tolerant

Seashore Paspalum

High traffic tolerant, also tolerates sandy soil, salt and moist climates and drought conditions

Zoysia

Slow growth rate, drought tolerant but does better with frequent watering, thatch builds quickly

Best Grass for Low Maintenance

Fine Fescue

Drought resistant, low traffic areas, shade tolerant, disease resistant

Tall Fescue

Low maintenance, low traffic, drought tolerant

Bahia

Grows short blades requiring low maintenance, dense grass makes great defense for weeds

Buffalo

Native North American, slow growth rate, drought tolerant, low traffic, dormants to brown shade when too hot or too cold

Centipede

Short blades and requires little fertilizing. It does better with frequent watering. It's low drought tolerant, dormant and turns brown in high heat.

Keep this in mind:

When you are purchasing seed look closely at the label. It will list percentages of several grass types. Almost all grass seed is sold in two ways; by mix or by blend. A mix or mixture means the package will contain more than one type of grass, like rye and fescue. The label will indicate by weight the amounts of each. This is beneficial when one predominate type will take control over certain areas where light or shade permit.

A blend will have one type of grass with different varieties. It might be all bluegrass but will have two or three varieties of that bluegrass. Each variety has it's own unique ability to battle pests, disease and climate conditions and work well with each other to maintain dominance over weeds and pests. We recommend blends just for the uniform aspect. However, a yard with several different lighting restrictions and shade levels might perform best with a mixture of types.

More items to remember on Grass

Cool Seasonal Grasses

Northern lawns need a proper mix of grasses. Most are combinations of Kentucky bluegrass, creeping red fescue, and perennial ryegrass. This mixture provides the maximum amount of pest resistance and environmental adaptability. Each of these three grasses has distinct traits. A mix can provide a good quality lawn
with below average to average care and will provide a lawn suitable for sun or partial shade.

Kentucky bluegrass is the most common lawn grass. Blends of Kentucky bluegrass cultivars can provide a very high quality lawn but such lawns usually require above average maintenance levels. The spreading growth habit helps fill in bare spots but the grass goes dormant during hot, dry, summer weather.

Creeping red fescue has thread-like leaves and is the most shade tolerant lawn grass. This does not mean the grass grows only in shade or that it will tolerate total shade. It grows well in full sun and in fact requires some sun during the day.

Perennial ryegrass varieties are blended with other types of grass. Only named cultivars of perennial ryegrass should be used in lawns.

Turf type tall fescue is becoming more popular and is available in most stores. In a mixed lawn, the grass blades of a clump of tall fescue always seem to stay taller than the rest of the lawn. However, pure stands of tall fescue are valued for high wear tolerance. This makes tall fescue ideal for use in high traffic areas as well as in playgrounds and roadsides.

Annual ryegrass is often sold as the major component of low priced grass seed. It will die out during the winter, forming a lawn that only lasts a single season.

Rough bluegrass is often found in shady grass mixes although many people consider it a weed. It has a light green color and does not blend well with other lawn type grasses. It does however do well in moist, shaded sites.

Zoysia is a warm season grass that turns brown early in the fall and stays brown until late into the spring. It is can be used in a northern climate but is more successful when used in transition zones and warmer climates.

Bentgrass becomes established in a lawn and is also considered by many to be a lawn weed. The grass can tolerate very low mowings as on golf greens. At normal lawn heights it is shaggy and often dies out during the winter or during hot, dry weather. There is no selective control for bentgrass.

Warm Season Grasses

Warm season grasses are ideal for southern climates. They are tough and can grow best in heat of 80 to 95 degrees. Sandy soils don't bother them either. Yet, warm season grasses fail to stay green all year. This is offset by the fact that they come back better and thicker each year. Each of the following types of grasses are available in an increasing number of varieties. These have been developed in order to improve their use aslawn turf with such qualities as speed of establishment and disease resistance.

Bermuda grass is one of the best lawn grasses among the warm season types. It is heat and drought resistant and does well at maintaining a green color in these conditions. It needs to get full sun. It spreads very quickly but has both runners and rhyzomes which means that it is hard to keep from spreading into beds and onto driveways.

Carpet grass grows better on wet soils than most grasses. It can be seeded or sprigged. It should be chosen only if quick establishment and ease of care is more important than quality of turf. It is easily scalped. Recovery from winter and drought is slower than with most warm season grasses.

Centipede grass is an aggressive and dense grass with great weed resistance. It requires less care and can take some shade. It is slow growing but can be seeded or sprigged. Surface runners make edging easy.

St. Augustine is a very popular grass. It is thick and course. It spreads quickly with runners but is easily edged. Not much seed is produced so it is better planted by sodding or plugging. Of the warm season grasses, it is the most shade tolerant. It does not like the cold. It is susceptible to chinch bugs.

Zoysia grasses are good in full sun or partial shade. Rather slow in getting established; they should be sodded, plugged or sprigged. They are less drought tolerant than bermudagrass. Zoysiagrasses need more care than other warm season grasses. But, when they are properly maintained, zoysia grasses are some of the best lawns.

adapted from Michigan State University Extension



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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