Choosing The Right Grass For Your Yard

Choosing The Right Grass For Your Yard

By: Heather Rhoades

Choosing the right grass for your yard can make the difference between having a low-maintenance lawn and one that requires a lot of upkeep. Keep reading to learn more about the proper grass selection.

Grass Seed Considerations

Grass seed that grows slowly, thickens easily, and discourages weeds or other pests is important for a healthy lawn. Grasses vary in color, appearance, and growth habits.

Determine how much time or money you are willing to spend on your lawn. Higher-maintenance grasses mean more work for you and less money in your pocket.

The type of grass seed you choose should be determined by the growing conditions of your landscape. For instance, how much sun and shade does the site receive? What is the soil like?

Choosing the right grass for your lawn includes determining how it will be used as well. Will the lawn be used simply for appearance or other purposes such as entertaining, playing, gardening, etc.? Consider your lawn requirements and compare brands carefully. The extra expense for higher-quality grass seed is usually worth it. Since most lawns have a variety of growing conditions, choosing those which are blended or mixed, such as with cool-season grasses, may be helpful.

Different grasses have their own strengths and weaknesses, growing wherever they are better suited within the lawn. For instance, with a mixture containing bluegrass and fine fescue, the bluegrass will grow happily in sunny locations, while the fescue will thrive in shady areas. Lawns consisting of mixed blends are also more resistant to disease and pest problems.

Warm-season grasses are usually planted as a single seed, not a mixture. Depending on your needs, these can be as good a choice as any other. The vigorous growth patterns of warm-season grasses make it difficult for other types of grasses, or weeds, to compete. Some grasses, such as tall fescues and native grasses, also look better when planted alone.

Grass is great, but less lawn means less maintenance. Consider using easy-care ground covers that don’t require any mowing or trimming. Ground covers like liriope (also known as lilyturf or money grass) and English ivy do not require mowing and can make good landscaping fillers, especially in hard-to-mow areas.

If all else fails, you can always check with your local Cooperative Extension for grass and lawn recommendations in your area.

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Choosing The Right Grass For Your Lawn

When you have made the decision to overhaul your garden and get a new lawn, it is the perfect time to take a step back and make sure you have the best type of grass. There are trade-offs between durability and the fineness of the grass blades which affect the overall look and feel.

Ask yourself some of the following questions as you start your new lawn project and let the answers guide you to the right type of grass.

1. Are you interested in a low maintenance lawn?
2. How much time do you enjoy spending on your lawn?
3. What kind of usage will you lawn receive?
4. How much shade does your land have?
5. Do you have children and desire a lawn that can be robust, designed for a family, and a low maintenance lawn?

Choosing the right types of grass for the climate where you live is very important if you want to have the best looking lawn possible. Another factor when deciding on the types of grass that will work well for you is the condition of the property where you are planting the grass.

Where do you and your grass live? Knowing your climate will help you to determine what grasses will grow and look the best for your location. You should match this up to how much effort, time, and money do you have to spend on your lawn.

Other things to factor in to determine the type of grass to plant should include the differences between how the grasses grow, such as creeping or bunch the appearance of the grass, and the lifespan – whether perennial or annual.

Do you want an exhibit lawn, a multi-use lawn, or just a green lawn that covers the ground for the kids to play on? To achieve a more perfect-looking lawn, you can expect it to require more maintenance.

Will your lawn receive a lot of wear and traffic or sports activities? Will it be a general lawn and/or a lawn cover on wet soil or dry soil? Do you have factors that would limit the choice of grass that can be planted?

Some of these factors can include the soil type and pH on your land to shade conditions, and the slope of the lawn area. Hopefully, the following will help you on the right path to the lawn you want and need.

The Family Lawn

For families with children, play lawns and path lawns may be a good choice. If you desire a children’s play area where games such as tennis, softball, and football can be played, you will want to grow lawns of tough grass.

Tough rye grass spreads quickly and fills in gaps and it can be used when growing a lawn for utility purposes. The end results of planting this type of grass can be a lush thickness but with the toughness of a utility lawn.

The Keen Gardeners Lawn

Many gardeners and homeowners desire to have a neatly edged ornamental lawn that is weed-free, a rich green color, and a neat and uniformed surface. Great looking lawns require mowing and edging several times a month during the growing season.

Awareness of aeration and drainage is important depending on the soil conditions of the lawn as well. An organic, more ornamental lawn needs to be mowed more regularly. The keen gardener’s lawn is one with more of a general purpose, with a finer grass.

This type lawn is more attractive and designed more for looks instead of play, making it less robust. Lawns using very fine grasses make for an amazing looking lawn, but require heavy maintenance and are more fragile.

Low Maintenance Lawn
Some people prefer to have lawns where regular weekly mowing is not necessary. A rougher utility lawn can be mowed a few times before and after the summer resting period. This type of lawn could only require mowing four to six times a year.

Finer grasses will diminish and courser grasses will take control. The type of grass seed you need can be shade, sub, drought, or fire resistant grass, and can be mixed to be specially formulated for lawns that grow in specific situations or for specific uses.

There are grass seed mixes for lawns on exposed coasts, tough utility lawns, and grazing laws. There are also grass seed mixes for lawns that are in the sun, shade, drought, and damp environments.

Cool Climate Grasses
Cool-climate grasses are best for lawns in the North. In the spring and fall, the grass thrives and slows down in the hot months of summer and in the coldest months of the year.

Pennington Smart Seed Sun and Shade Mix is a cool-climate grass that needs 30 percent less water and has the best fertilizer performance. Grasses that have a high tolerance to cold temperatures include Bent grass, Bluegrass, Fescues (fine), Tall Fescue, Zoysia grass, Bermuda grass, Pensacola Bahia grass, and Argentine Bahia grass.

Drought Conditions
Lack of rainfall or irrigation can determine what a lawn looks like some grasses are more tolerant to drought than others. Bermuda grass, Improved Bermuda, Pensacola Bahia grass, Argentine Bahia grass, Zoysia Grass, Centipede Grass, and Fescues all have a high tolerance for drought.

Warm Climate Grasses
Warm-climate grasses are used throughout the hotter, more southerly zones they grow vigorously during the summer and turn browner in the cold months.

Many homeowners keep their laws green by over seeding with annual rye grass at the end of the growing season. Warm season grasses are more tolerant to drought than the cool season ones.

Grasses that can handle high temperatures include Zoysia grass, Improved Bermuda, Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, Argentine Bahia grass, Pensacola Bahia grass, Centipede, Fescues, and Kentucky Bluegrass.

Bermuda grass is one of the most common types of grass grown in more Southerly latitudes since it is durable and grows well in the heat. Bermuda grass does not grow well in the shade it is a very soft and fine-bladed grass that is often used in golf greens. This grass works best to plant in the spring.

Centipede grass is also a good choice for hot areas. Centipede grass is a light green in color, has shallow roots and is subject to drought damage. The great thing about centipede grass is that it grows well even in poor soil a lawn that has centipede grass is considered a low maintenance lawn. This grass is best planted in spring.

Transition Areas
So what if you live in an area of the country that does not fall neatly into the cool-climate or warm-climate grasses? You may live in an area that is like a belt from the southern half of California or the Northern part of Spain where both cool and warm-climate kind of grass are found.

Tall Fescue is the most common type of grass found in those areas it works well if a gardener desires to have a green yard throughout the winter. No matter what kind of climate you live in, what kind of soil you have available, whether you have a lot of time or not much time to spend on your lawn, one thing is certain – you can have a beautiful lawn that will suit your needs!

Start with purchasing one of the right types of grass that have been recommended and get started on having that beautiful lawn today!

How to Choose Sod for Your Yard

Last Updated: October 29, 2020 References

This article was co-authored by Melissa & Michael Gabso. Melissa and Michael Gabso are the Owners of MC Construction & Decks based in Los Angeles, California. With over ten years of experience, they specialize in exterior and interior remodeling and redesign, including kitchen, bathroom, and deck construction. MC Construction & Decks also provides plans and permitting services and is known for backyard beautification projects. MG Construction & Decks has been rated as one of the top contractors in the Los Angeles area year after year.

There are 19 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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If your lawn is patchy, worn out, or dying, you're probably thinking about replacing it. Some homeowners opt for reseeding their yards, but many choose to lay new sod. Sod offers many advantages over a reseeded lawn, since it is installed while in optimum health and sown closely to limit weed infiltration. But it does usually cost more and it takes a bit of work to install, so it’s important to make the right sod choice. Factor in your climate and the particular conditions and functions of your yard, and find a knowledgeable supplier who can help you make the best decision.

Does the Variety of Grass Really Matter?

In short, the answer is, yes. Each grass type of grass is available in a range of specific varieties, each one offering a unique take and new variations in texture, color, and growth rate. Visually, the differences may be subtle, but things like water need, temperature tolerances, and growth rate can make a huge difference in how well they perform in you yard. Looking at the specifics of your grass choices will help you ensure you find the right grass for your lawn. For example, one variety of St. Augustine might better tolerate diseases and pests, where another variety of St. Augustine can handle warmer weather and drought conditions. If you have problems with insects and pests in your yard a variety that is pest resistant would be the best choice. If you are in an area that gets extreme highs and droughts in the summer then a variety that can handle those conditions would be the best grass for your lawn care needs.

To better understand what the most popular types of turf grass have to offer and where they will perform the best, here is a rundown of the common grasses used today. Within this list of five cool-season and five warm-season turf grass varieties, you are sure to find the right grass for your lawn!

Choosing the Right Lawn

T he right type of grass, one that is suitable for your needs and your climate, will always yield better results. You should consider your climate, the amount of sun the lawn will receive and how the lawn will be used.

Grasses vary in the type of climate they prefer, the amount of water and nutrients they need, their resistance to pests, their tolerance for shade, and the degree of wear they can withstand.

If you are putting in a new lawn, it will be worth your while to do some research to identify the best grass type for your needs. If you're working with an established lawn that fails to thrive despite proper care, you might consider replanting with a different type of grass. Why struggle to grow grass that's susceptible to fungal disease if you live in a humid climate? Or a water-loving species if you live in an area with water shortages? Grass that is well-adapted to your area will grow better and resist local pests and diseases better.

Some considerations for selecting a suitable grass:

Will the lawn be mostly shaded or in full sun

Will there be foot traffic or kids playing

Are you in a dry or drought area

Is your area prone to certain pests or lawn diseases

Your location will dictate either warm-season or cool-season grasses.

In your local garden supply center, they are likely to have already narrowed the choices for you by carrying varieties of grass seed most suitable for your area. You will still have to narrow the choice down to what is best for your particular lawn. New grass varieties and mixtures come out on the market every year. Ask your county extension agent or your local nurseryman for recommendations.