Choosing the Right Grass for Your Lawn

Choosing the right grass seed for your lawn means that instead of struggling to keep it healthy year-round, you can rest easy knowing that your turf is easy to maintain. There are so many choices out there, though, that knowing what type of grass to choose can be difficult. Here’s the information you need to make the best choice and nurture a healthy, attractive lawn.

Narrow Your Options by Location

Where you live will have a big impact on the type of grass that will thrive. There are three main zones to take into consideration:

Northern Zone: The Northern Zone includes the northern U.S. and Canada. In these areas, the summertime weather is moderate, while winters are cold. If you live in the Northern Zone, consider Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue or perennial ryegrass.

Southern Zone: In the southern U.S., the Southern Zone sees hot summertime weather and moderate winters. In this area, the grasses that thrive include Bermudagrass, St. Augustine grass, centipede grass and zoysiagrass.

Transition Zone: The areas of the U.S. that are considered to be in the Transition Zone have hot summers and cold winters, which is the most challenging weather combination for lawns. The grasses that do best during the cold seasons have trouble in the summer heat, while the grasses that do best in warm weather have a hard time avoiding damage during the winter. If you live in the transition zone, consider tall fescue, which can tolerate both types of weather and stay green year-round. Other types of grasses that can handle this weather includes
Bermudagrass, Kentucky bluegrass and zoysiagrass.

Take the Site Into Consideration

The type of yard you have will also play a role in the grass you choose. If the site is pretty flat and plain, with regular shade, water exposure and soil, you won’t have to worry about getting different-than-expected results from your grass. However, if your yard has certain types of challenges, like a ton of shade, low water exposure or salty soil, you may want to choose a type of grass that can adapt to these conditions.

Here’s what you should know about different types of yard characteristics and what they mean for your grass:

High-Traffic: If you have a lot of people crossing your lawn, you’ll need a grass that can stand up to the high amount of traffic. If you’re in the Northern Zone, go for a blend of perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass. If you’re in the Southern Zone, opt for Bermudagrass, which can quickly recover from traffic.

Low-Input: If there’s a part of your yard that’s out of the way and difficult to supply with fertilizer or water, consider buffalograss or fine-leaf fescues.

Shade: If your yard has a lot of shade, consider fine-leaf fescues, which are best at tolerating shade. If you live in the south, opt for a St. Augustine variety, which are pretty tolerant of shade as well (just avoid the Floratam type, which isn’t great with shade).

Salty Soil: If you’re in an area that’s affected by salt, like near a sandy coastline, consider seashore paspalum, which is highly tolerant of salt.

Brand Name vs. Generic

Note that while generic seeds may be less expensive than brand name grass, they often have problems and aren’t always worth the money savings. For the newest version of a grass varietal, stick with a reputable company and name.

The Best Species for Different Regions

In order to get the best lawn possible, it’s a good idea to go with a custom blend of species. While you can do a ton of research and opt to create your own blend, it’s better to go with one that’s pre-packaged, which will be specially made for specific regions.

4 Types of Cool Season Grass

Grasses made for the cool season are adaptable to northern climates. These grasses will thrive in the springtime and fall, and stay green even during the winter, so long as wintertime temperatures are moderate. During the summer, though, make sure to give these grasses plenty of water to keep them from turning brown.

Fine-Leaf Fescue: This type of grass has thin blades and a wispy look. These types of grasses are adaptable to shade as well as drought, making them very low maintenance. Unfortunately, they’re not quite as attractive as other types of grasses.

Kentucky Bluegrass: As the most common option for lawns in the north, Kentucky bluegrass is medium in texture and dark in color. This type of grass can also be planted on the West Coast and in a Transition Zone. The benefits of Kentucky bluegrass are that it fills in your lawn’s bare spots on its own and it can standup to harsh winter weather. The drawbacks are that it’s not at all tolerant to shade, it doesn’t do well in extreme heat, and it attracts grubs.

Perennial Ryegrass: This type of grass has a fine texture and a dark color, and is often used in combination with Kentucky bluegrass. Perennial ryegrass handles high traffic well, but it won’t spread to fill in bare spots.

Tall Fescue: This type of grass can standup to heat, drought and pests, making it a good option for the south and for the Transition Zone. Though some people find that its coarse texture isn’t very attractive, some of the newer varieties are more appealing to the eye. The main drawback of tall fescue is that it won’t spread itself into bare areas.

5 Types of Warm Season Grass

Warm season grasses thrive in heat and can handle very hot summers. However, in areas of low rain, they may become dormant if you don’t water them.

Bermuda Grass: While traditional Bermuda grass is on the coarse side, newer varieties of hybrid combinations are more fine in texture. This type of grass spreads well and quickly recovers from traffic, but it’s not tolerant to shade.

Buffalograss: If your site is low maintenance, this is a good option. It’s gray-green and can handle weather extremes, but it may be brown for a lot of the year, which some people don’t find attractive.

Centipedegrass: Requiring just a moderate amount of maintenance, this type of grass rarely has disease or pest issues. It also grows slowly, so you won’t have to mow it often. However, it can easily be damaged if the weather turns freezing.

St. Augustine: This is a great grass if you want a thick, lush lawn. It doesn’t need a lot of maintenance, but if you have dry summers, you’ll need to water it often.

Zoysiagrass: This dense grass can choke out weeds and is tolerant of drought. However, it can take some extra time to recover from wear.

When it comes to grass, the variety you choose makes a difference. Each type of grass species comes in multiple varieties, each with its own color, growth rate and texture. To the naked eye, the differences may be hard to spot, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t advantages to certain varieties, like how well they can tolerate pests or stand up to disease.

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