Weed Control in My Yard
After years of finding the perfect home, you just want...
Posted on January 4, 2024 by Lawn Doctor
Every homeowner wants their lawn to be as beautiful as it can be. A well-kept lawn has plenty of aesthetic benefits, but healthy lawns can also benefit the environment by cleaning the air, fortifying soil and reducing surface temperatures. Lawns can be kept healthy with regular watering and cutting and by using certain fertilizing strategies, but one of the most important variables for a beautiful lawn is the grass you choose to plant.
Many people do not realize that there are tons of different grass seeds and that each one grows better in certain conditions. Alongside their different looks and growing conditions, each grass has its own unique maintenance concerns you should know before choosing one. Read on to learn more about different grass types, including general information about their appearance and if they grow well in your region of the country.
Grass types can be divided into two overarching categories: warm-season grasses and cool-season grasses. As the name suggests, these classifications refer to the ability of a grass to thrive in certain climates.
Warm-season grasses typically do best along the southern states and into the transition zone, which spreads as far north as states like Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri and parts of Colorado. These grasses are able to withstand high summer heat and require lots of sun. They have a growing season that lasts from late spring to mid-fall, which is when they are at their greenest.
On the other hand, cool-season grasses are better suited for the climates found in northern states. For climates with cooler temperatures, especially in the summer, these grasses are typically a great choice because they provide a long growing period. However, they can be difficult to maintain if summer temperatures remain too high, and they have a very low shade tolerance.
If you haven’t already identified what grass type you have, it is important to understand what climate you live in and what grass type would best suit your lawn. Cool-season grasses planted in warmer climates and vice versa will require a lot more upkeep to keep alive, which may result in an unpleasantly short growing season.
Warm-season grass seeds are best planted in southern states, from southern California all the way to Florida, and as far north as parts of Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky. However, there are multiple types of warm-season grasses that each have their own considerations beyond this. Read on to discover a few of these grasses.
Zoysia grass is a hardy, creeping grass species that grows in thin strands and stays a light to medium green color during the growing season. This species has a high drought tolerance and can tolerate heavy foot traffic, making it perfect for more extreme summer climates. Zoysia is also quite resistant to cold, making it plausible to grow in the northern reaches of the transition zone.
Zoysia grass is quite dense and will form a solid carpet of grass underneath your feet. Due to its hardy nature, maintenance can be quite simple, provided you are in an appropriate climate zone. Peak time for lawn maintenance comes in the late spring and summer, when you’ll want to perform basic upkeep such as mowing. You won’t need to worry about watering too much, as the species is drought-tolerant.
Easily recognizable by its short, needle-like appearance, centipede grass is a relatively delicate grass that requires low maintenance. It is quite resistant to heat, but due to its shallow root system, centipede grass is more susceptible to drought than its counterparts. It requires much warmer winters than other warm-season grasses, so the best climates for it are found in southeastern regions, where mild winters are common.
Soil requirements also make centipede grass potentially difficult for lawns. Acidic, sandy soils in the southeast United States may suit the grass just fine, but these same soil types in the southwest are too alkaline due to limited rainfall in those regions. For this reason, homeowners in areas such as the Gulf or Atlantic coasts may have the easiest time growing centipede grass.
Assuming the right climate, the grass is fairly easy to maintain. You may need to water your lawn more often if there are drought-like conditions to support growth. Additionally, be wary of heavy foot traffic, as the grass doesn’t tolerate it well.
Bermuda grass is a very popular grass with exceptional heat and drought resistance. Its appearance consists of dense root and stem systems with thick blades of grass. Bermuda grass is best suited for hot summers and mild winters, and like most warm-season grasses, it benefits from lots of direct sunlight. Southern states from the Atlantic to the Pacific can support Bermuda grass without much problem.
Its deep roots and aggressively fast growth rate can cause some unique maintenance needs. Excess thatch can accumulate due to high growth rates, so occasional dethatching may be necessary. Bermuda grass thrives best when it receives about 1 inch of water per week, including rainfall.
A coarse grass with thick, long blades, Bahia grass is another highly resistant variety of warm-season grass. Its extensive root system makes it resistant to droughts, and its ability to thrive in sandy, acidic soil makes it extremely durable and unaffected by heavy foot traffic. A high heat tolerance makes this grass perfect for most southern states.
It is important to avoid planting seeds in shaded areas, as the grass thrives on sunlight. Also, make sure to avoid watering too much, as this can actually weaken the grass.
For homeowners in climates with cooler temperatures and harsher winters, cool-season grasses are best. Here are some popular varieties.
Tall fescue grass is a versatile, coarse-textured species adapted to a variety of climates. Both heat stress and drought are tolerable for tall fescue, making it a great grass for transition zone climates that still have warm summers.
These grasses can be started from seed in the late spring or when temperatures in the air reach 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. When maintaining your lawn, you’ll want to be sure to not cut these grasses too short, as this will help prevent weed growth.
Fine fescue grass is a lot like its tall counterpart, providing homeowners with a soft, meadow-like lawn. Drier soil types are better for this grass, as too much water can injure it. Like tall fescue, cooler temperatures are ideal for growth, and this variety has great shade tolerance.
Homeowners in northern regions may find fine fescue to be a low-maintenance option, as it requires little water and mowing. Depending on your soil type, you may have to fertilize more or less than average. Sandy soil types will require more, but one way to counteract this is by leaving grass clippings on your lawn.
Featuring narrow blades with boat-shaped leaf tips, Kentucky bluegrass is a popular variety with lots of winter resistance but limited shade tolerance. It is a great choice for states with cold winters, but it doesn’t hold up well in the heat.
You’ll want to plant these from seed starting in early fall when cold-season growth is peaking. This variety doesn’t have much disease resistance, so some homeowners opt to mix Kentucky bluegrass with a similar perennial such as ryegrass.
With fine strands and clumpy growth, ryegrass is a versatile option that can be used for temporary and permanent lawns. It is a cool-season grass, so if you live in cooler climates, it will come back year after year.
Southern lawn owners can also make use of annual ryegrass by overseeding their lawns in the winter. This will keep your lawn filled with green grass throughout the winter and make room for whatever warm-season variety you have planted once spring comes again.
Choosing the right grass seed is a matter of understanding what you want your lawn to look like and knowing what climate you are in. Keep a close eye on the typical trends in your weather patterns, such as first frost dates, and know what growing zone you are in. Once you have an idea of what grass type will grow best in your area, it is a matter of deciding how much maintenance you want to do.
At Lawn Doctor, we can help transform your lawn or keep your current one at its best. If you are unsure of the best practices for your lawn, our experts can help, whether it is planting, weed removal, fertilization or another lawn care task. Contact us today to get a quote and discover how we can transform your lawn.
Contact Lawn Doctor to help care for your lawn when you can’t.