Warm or Cool Weather: Finding a Grass That Fits
With over 10,000 species of grass in the world, it seems a little intimidating trying to decipher which grass is your perfect fit. Different climates, soil, and personal needs add a little more to the confusion to the question: What grass will grow best in my yard?
If you look at a map of the U.S. provided by Lowe’s Home Improvement and divide it into three rows, you start to break down the types of grasses that will grow best in your area. The north part of the U.S. stretching from the top half of California to Pennsylvania is included in the Cool-Season grasses. Cool-Season grasses include a variety of Kentucky blue grass, fescue and perennial ryegrass. Combining any two of these grasses like Kentucky blue grass and fescue is a combination for success.
The transitional grasses zone ranges from the southern part of California all the over the northern parts of Nevada, New Mexico and Texas to the coast of Virginia. Bermuda and St. Augustine grasses grow best in these areas because they can tolerate the medium of cool and warm temperatures.
The Warm-Season Grasses zone consists of the lower half of Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and covers all the way to the coast of South Carolina. This is home to tropical and sub-tropical climates and grasses like St. Augustine and Bermuda grasses grow well in this area as well.
The experts at The Grounds Guys offer this quick breakdown of five basic types of grass you are most likely to use for your commercial or residential purposes.
Best to grow in the cool-season zone, Kentucky bluegrass is an ideal grass for lawns, parks or gardens. This grass grows best in the fall and prefers to be exposed to full sunlight but will tolerate shade. In the summer months especially, Kentucky bluegrass has a high water need of at least two inches per week. Surprisingly, its drought tolerance is very high and while it will go dormant and the blades will turn brown, it can easily be kept alive by providing as little as one inch of water every two to three weeks. This is a great grass for residents or businesses residing in the Cool-Season or the northern part of the Transitional Grasses zone who want a grass that grows thick and lush in the cool weather while most grasses are turning brown.
There are multiple types of cool season fescue grasses but they are generally broken down in to two categories as fine fescues and tall fescues. Fine fescues are great for the lawns of busy residents and business owners because it requires little maintenance to keep it green all year long. It is moderately drought resistant, has the highest shade tolerance of any cool season grass, grows in poor soil conditions and is considered eco-friendly because it requires little use of water and fertilizer. Tall fescues are ideal for raising livestock, baseball fields or outside of any business with because it is well adapted for heavy traffic, little mowing and is shade and sun tolerant. Although this grass is not suited for survival in high altitudes, the tall fescue is moderately disease resistant and will tolerate warm summer temperatures.
Ryegrass can also be broken down into two different groups; perennial and annual ryegrasses. Perennial Ryegrass is a long term grass that grows well in northern states. It has a high cold temperature tolerance, a moderate shade and drought tolerance and has the highest wear tolerance of all the cool season grasses. This grass is one of the number one choices of grass in northern regions for lawns or business because of is incredible endurance and low maintenance. Annual Ryegrass is ideally used for short term use and must be re-seeded every year, but it is one of the few grasses that you can actually throw the seed and it will grow without extra plowing or digging. It is considered eco-friendly because it is beneficial to areas infected with nematodes and once it dies off will replenish the soil with its decomposition. Annual ryegrass is an excellent choice for pastures or for helping fill in brown spots in residential or business communities.
This super durable grass is great for sports fields like golf courses or soccer fields located in the transitional grasses zone as well as in a sub-tropical climate. Bermuda grass is very drought resistant and can attain full coverage 60-90 days after the seeds are planted. While this grass does turn brown in the winter it can be easily revived as soon as temperatures increase. A moderate amount of watering and fertilization is required to maintain the Bermuda’s luscious green look, but this grass is very adaptable and will tolerate a drought and survive in a variety of soils. This is an excellent choice for a family backyard or a baseball field.
This grass is adapted to wet and sunny conditions found in the tropical and sub-tropical part so of the United States. St. Augustine grass prefers full sun and is not very shade tolerant, but grows quickly in the summer and grows faster than Bermuda grass in this tropical climate. Although its wear and cold tolerance is fairly low, if you live on or near the coast this grass is your number one choice for its drought and salt tolerance abilities. Maintenance for St. Augustine is moderate because it must be dethatched every year or so to keep the grass healthy and it requires nitrogen to be added to the soil. For those living in the warm season grass zone and near a beach, this is your perfect fit!
Choosing what grass will go in your lawn is a big step towards a positive first impression for your business or in creating a fun environment for family to play and relax. Having a green, full lawn that is healthy and growing can be a significant selling point to your customers that shows you take time to care for presentation or if you are selling your home, a great lawn adds value to put a little more cash in your pocket. Either way, your new grass can be a beautiful staple to your yard.