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Guide to Selecting the Right Grass for Your Yard

Posted a few years ago by Rosie Wood - No Comments

There are cool season and warm season grasses. The type to plant for your lawn depends on your climate. Cool season grasses can handle the cold, whereas warm season grasses can handle the heat.

Most people's lawns have varying micro-climates, due to shade and damp spots. So it is common to blend grass types in the seed mix to get the best features from a range of grass types.

Cool Season Grasses
If you live somewhere cool, with mild wet or snowy winters, and warm or hot but dry summers. 

These grasses grow well in fall, winter, and through early spring:

Creeping Bent Grass
This grass is fine-textured. It is the finest-bladed and lowest-growing of all cool-season turf-grasses. Often used on putting and bowling greens as it forms a soft, dense, carpet-like lawn.

It is also the highest maintenance species of all the cool-season turf-grasses. This grass looks great as a lawn, but it requires more maintenance than others. It must have good drainage, and frequent watering, mowing and fertilizing. This grass also likes full sun.

Kentucky Blue Grass
This grass has a rich, blue-green color and a fine-texture. This general-purpose turf is often used in residential lawns, parks, athletic fields, and golf fairways.

It is the cold-hardiest of all turf-grasses. Although in hot, dry summers, this grass requires regular watering. It has a moderate maintenance level, requiring regular fertilization and mowing.

Rough Blue Grass
This is a fine-textured, bright green grass. It is used as a substitute of Kentucky Bluegrass in moist soils and shade.

It has a tendency to produce yellow-green patches and it can wilt and brown out in summer. However, with regular maintenance, this grass can be a prolific grower. It is definitely suited to moist and cooler conditions.

Perennial Rye Grass
This grass is known for its hardiness. It is perfect for any high traffic areas, so it is often used in playing fields, or high-use residential lawns. It does tend to grow in clumps however, so it is not the most attractive lawn grass.

This grass is very low maintenance, however it does not do well in extreme climates.

Fine Fescues
The beauty of this grass is that it can grow to be an attractive long-grass, or mowed quite short for a lawn. It is the finest bladed of all the winter grasses.

There are several sub-types of this grass, all with different tolerances and maintenance needs.

Tall Fescue
This grass is tall, dense, and a clumping grass; it has broad blades, unlike its cousin Fine Fescues. It is a popular choice for home lawns, playing fields, and commercial grounds.

Tall Fescue is a low-maintenance grass, which grows well in sun or shade. High and infrequent mowing of this grass is recommended. It's low-maintenance has made it popular with homeowners. It is also heat and drought tolerant, due to its long roots.

Warm Season Grasses
If you live somewhere warm, with mild winters, and hot summers (either humid or dry). 

These grasses grow well in late spring through summer:

Bahia Grass
This grass is a tough and coarse textured grass, very common in the Gulf Coast of Florida. Due to its growing patterns, it can be hard to create a smooth-looking lawn with this grass. Its does however, do well in a wide range of warm weather climates.

Buffalo Grass
A fine-textured grass from the Great Plains. Used on residential lawns, golf courses, industrial sites, and acreages, it is a very good all round grass, which does well on hot, dry sites.

It's popularity is because it is very low-maintenance. It tends to stay green all summer with little maintenance; it is water-efficient and very durable. This grass will survive with just about no maintenance – maybe mowing once a year - but its appearance is directly related to how often it is mowed; more frequent mowing also requires more frequent fertilization and watering.

Centipede Grass
This is 'lazy man's grass'. It has such a slow growth rate that it rarely needs work. Although it is low-maintenance, it does not tolerate much foot traffic. If it is left alone this grass a great lawn grass.

Bermuda Grass
This is a gray-green colored grass, with usually short blades with rough edges; although there are many variations. Its common uses are in athletic fields and golf course fairways due to its high wearing nature and that it recovers quickly.

Bermuda grass loves heat and sunlight. It has excellent heat, drought and salt tolerance.

This grass is often confused with the last grass on the list, Zoysia grass, however Bermuda grass offers less resistance to touch than Zoysia grass.

St. Augustine Grass
This is a coarse-textured, dark green, very broad bladed grass, popular in southern California, Hawaii, Texas, Florida and Gulf Coast states. There are many benefits to St. Augustine grass: it retains its color in fall, it will tolerate foot traffic, shade, heat, salty soil, and a bit of cold; however it is quite high maintenance for those rewards.

Although this grass can take a little drought, it does best with frequent watering.  It also requires fertile, well-drained soil and needs regular water, mowing, fertilization, and removal of thatch. Without those needs met, it is susceptible to insect damage and diseases.

Zoysia Grass
There are a few varieties of this grass, which have coarse to fine texture. It forms a dense, wiry, and low-maintenance lawn. There are just two complaints with this grass: it can be sharp underfoot as the blades grow to a sharp point, and it turns brown in cooler weather. It's popularity springs from the fact that it has a high heat tolerance and survives winter better than any other warm weather grass.

This grass is very low-maintenance. It is heat tolerant and most varieties are drought tolerant, and can also take shade and cool temperatures.

So the first thing you need to do when choosing a grass type for your lawn, is that you need to determine what climate you live in and how that will affect your grass.  Once you've done that, you can look at factors that may affect the beauty of the species of grass you select.  These are a list of some of those conditions you should consider:

  1. Maintainability
  2. Foot Traffic
  3. Amount of Sun in Your Yard
  4. Soil Qualities in Your Region
If you weigh those considerations, and gain answers to those different variables, you can make the right choice for selecting the best grass for your lawn.  You may find that using one type of grass for some of your yard (for example if a part of your yard receives more foot traffic or more or less sun) and another type of grass for another.

Rosie Wood - Author Biography

Rosie has DIY experience fixing up houses for herself and her family. She's been responsible for Painting, Tiling, Deck Building, Old Floor Maintenance, and home decoration. She brings a woman touch to our website, helping handymen and handy woman with DIY projects for their home.

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