If it feels like your place is incomplete without a green lawn, yet you don’t know where to start when choosing the right grass for your outdoor area, today’s post might be of assistance as we will explore the different grass types and their requirements. While using a good sprayer for your garden and lawn helps, there is more to lawn maintenance if superior results are desired.
Different grass types have different maintenance and temperature requirements, characteristics, and resistance to wear and tear, pests, and diseases. Therefore, even if you might like one type of grass more than others, choosing the right one for your lawn should be done based on the climate in your area and the time you have at your disposal to cater to the grass’ various needs.
Grass types based on climate
First of all, you need to consider the climate in your area and choose the grass based on this factor. Temperature plays a crucial role as far as grass health and development are concerned. We can thus speak of two types of lawn grass, namely warm-season and cool-season grasses.
Warm-season grasses thrive in midsummer when the temperatures range from 75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. When it comes to the U.S., the warm-season grass species are more appropriate for the warm climates of the lower southwest, southeast, and the Deep South.
Once the temperature falls below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, these grass types become dormant and get a brown color until next spring. Since their peak in growth occurs during summer, they are likely to die over winter if grown in the cool northern climates.
Cool-season grasses, on the other hand, thrive when the temperature is lower and thus somewhere between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Their peak in growth takes place in early spring and early fall.
Such grass types are thus more suitable for the cool northern climates, and they are often grown in Northern California, the upper Great Plains and Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest. Cool-season grass species are likely to die out in the hot southern climates.
Now, if you live in the so-called Transition Zone, which is between the south and north, you can grow either of the two grass types mentioned above. For example, some warm-season grasses that will do well and grow nicely and healthily in this area are Centipede, Zoysia, and Bermuda grasses.
Tall Fescue is a cool-season grass species that can also be grown in the Transition Zone, given that it can adapt to different types of soil and is resistant to drought. To help you learn more about each of these types, we have highlighted below some of their main characteristics so that you can identify the grass type that’s suitable for your lawn.
Warm-season grass types
The grass species that can be grown in warm climates can further be divided into grass types suitable for humid climates and grass species that thrive in arid climates; therefore, this aspect also calls for consideration when choosing grass for your lawn. Here is more on warm-season grass types.
- St. Augustine
St. Augustine grass has wide and coarse leaves with tips that are slightly rounded and is known for being a slow-growing species. This light-to-green grass is one of the most resilient grass types and can resist heat, which is why it is one of the most commonly-grown grasses in the Gulf states, such as Florida.
What’s great about this type of grass is that it can resist the heavy downpours of the southeastern areas of the U.S. It requires frequent watering, can grow in sandy soil, and keeps up pretty well with heavy foot traffic, which makes it ideal for lawns that are heavily used for spare-time activities.
If you prefer a light green grass, this type might be right up your alley. It has notched leaves and can create dense turfs. One of the things that make it such a common choice is that it doesn’t require frequent mowings since it grows low to the ground, and it requires less fertilizer than other grass types in this category.
It doesn’t thrive in very dry areas, and if that happens to be the climate in your region, it is recommended to water it frequently and consistently. It is often grown in the southeast, where it rains abundantly.
In case you’d like a thick grass type for your lawn, and you live in a warm climate, Zoysia is also worth considering as it is resistant to drought and thus requires less watering. Its characteristics are similar to St. Augustine grasses as this grass type also grows slowly and features coarse leaves.
This grass turns dormant and gets a darker color during the cold season. However, it goes green again when the weather gets warm. It is a common choice for lawns in the southern part of the U.S.
Those of you who prefer dark green grass types might want to take a closer look at Bermuda grass. This species features dark green pointed leaves and grows both above and below the ground, which makes it suitable for those areas where there’s a lot of foot traffic as it creates a thick and dense turf.
This grass type requires frequent watering and sun exposure in order to grow healthily. What’s great about it is that it can be cut very short, which reduces the number of mowings required for maintenance, and it can also grow in both humid and arid climates. What’s more, it resists disease, drought, and pests.
- Buffalo grass
Just like Bermuda grass, this type makes a great choice for residential lawns, given its soft green color and the thin and uniformly-looking turf it creates. This grass species is frequently grown in the Deep South since it requires full sun exposure in order to thrive. Even though it is resistant to drought, pests, and disease, it is not the most appropriate type of grass for lawns with high traffic.
Although the above-mentioned grass types are suitable for warm climates, the growing requirements still differ from one species to another. For example, Zoysia can grow in partial shade, but Centipede and St. Augustine grasses require full sun exposure.
Some warm-season grasses thrive in humid areas, while others do great in arid regions. For example, Bermuda, Zoysia, and St. Augustine grasses are more suitable for warm, humid areas and thus for the southeastern areas of the U.S.
For those living in the southwestern areas of the U.S., Buffalo and Bermuda grasses are more appropriate as they grow healthily in warm, arid zones.
Plus, each of the warm-season grasses we’ve mentioned requires a different degree of watering and has varying resistance to disease, insects, and wear. Some of them can recover fast and are thus suitable for high-traffic areas, while others are more appropriate for those areas that don’t get too much traffic.
That’s why it is not enough to consider the climate in your area and how the grass looks when identifying grass types suitable for your lawn. The maintenance they require is also a decisive factor.
Cool-season grass types
If you want to keep your lawn lush even when the cool season takes over, you can opt for one of the following grass types.
- Kentucky bluegrass
If you’re more into dark green grasses and live in a cool, humid area, this species is worth a closer look. This grass type is probably the most common type of cool-season grass, given its soft V-shaped leaves and beautiful dark green.
Thanks to its robust root system, this grass grows quickly and strong, thus creating healthy lawns that are resilient to lawnmowers and high foot traffic. It can recover quickly if it’s damaged and grows healthily in areas with full sun exposure or partial shade. Still, they are likely to suffer in full shaded areas.
- Fine Fescue
Fast-growing and easily recognizable thanks to its thin and pointed leaves, Fine Fescue grasses can be planted under trees or in areas where other grasses don’t grow as they thrive both in full shade and sun. However, since there are various types of Fine Fescue grasses, utmost attention is required when choosing the type that’s best suited for your lawn.
Keep in mind that, unlike Kentucky Bluegrass, this thin blade grass species is not ideal for high-traffic areas. It can be blended with other grass types, though, such as Ryegrass and Bluegrass.
- Tall Fescue
Unlike many other cool-season types of grass, this type can stand up to hot and dry weather, and thanks to its thick and coarse leaves, it is suitable for high-traffic areas and lawnmowers. Tall Fescue can sometimes grow in isolated thick bunches, and given its deep root system, it can survive drought periods. This grass type is thus suitable for areas near the Transition Zone or regions with little rain.
- Perennial Ryegrass
One of the most common types of grass is the perennial Ryegrass, a grass species that grows quickly and is resilient to high foot traffic, which makes it suitable for lawns where kids and pets play. The grass features thin and finely-textured pointed leaves, and it can grow both in shade and sun and has a high resistance to diseases.
Ryegrass is often mixed with other grass seeds, such as Kentucky Bluegrass seeds, in order to create a more shade-tolerant lawn. It does well in cool, humid climates, given its disease resistance. The downside of this grass type is that it can grow thicker in some areas, and the lawn might thus not have that appealing uniform aspect.
- Canadian Bluegrass
If you live in a cool and arid climate, another type of grass you might want to consider for your lawn is the Canadian Bluegrass. You can cultivate this species both in full sun and shade, and it does well in areas where other grasses fail to thrive, such as areas with less-than-perfect soil conditions.
Its bluish-green and canoe-shaped leaves are not only visually pleasant but also resistant as the grass can recover quickly if damaged.
For cool, humid areas, such as the northeastern parts of the U.S., Pacific Northwest, and northern Midwest, bluegrasses, fescues, bentgrasses, and ryegrasses are the most appropriate. If you live in a cool arid region, such as the western parts of the U.S., you might want to consider growing grasses such as Canadian Bluegrass and wheatgrass.
What’s great about most cool-season grasses is that they require moderate maintenance. For example, Fine Fescue requires just a weekly watering, and if you’re more into a naturally-looking lawn, you can even skip the mowing and mow only once in a while.
To provide your lawn with the right maintenance, you first need to answer the question ‘what kind of grass do I have?’. Considering the information provided above and checking some images online can help you with your lawn grass identification.
Knowing which type of grass is used for the lawn of the house you’ve just purchased or rented is essential when it comes to ensuring the proper maintenance. Not all grasses require the same fertilizer, amount of water, pest control treatment, mowing frequency and height, and growing conditions.
Each grass type comes with specific requirements, and therefore, if you want that lush, green lawn, the right approach and maintenance are required. The grasses mentioned above are the most common ones, but there are other species to consider. You can even mix grass seeds to get a uniformly-looking lawn and cover a greater area that includes both shaded areas and spots with full sun.
If you’re not sure about which grass type is best suited for your area or what grass type is the one you already have, hiring a professional to help you with this is always a good idea. Once you learn the various steps regarding your lawn maintenance, you can cater to its needs yourself.