Choosing Grass

Most lawn grasses are known either as cool-season (for the northern and mountain regions of the U.S., Zones 3 through 6) or warm-season (for the southern half to third, Zones 7 through 10). Talk to your Cooperative Extension Service or local nursery and garden center about the best grass or combination of grasses for your lawn.

Cool-Season Grasses
Kentucky bluegrass, with its blue-green hue, is the most popular cool-season grass. It grows best in areas with mild summers and ample rainfall. Other cool-season grasses include:

  • Perennial rye Most often mixed with Kentucky bluegrass. Deep green and glossy, it sprouts quickly and grows in clumps.
  • Fescues Red fescue starts as a fine-textured bunch grass that develops into a solid mat. It performs well in dry soils and in sun and shade. Hard fescue is slower-growing but requires little maintenance. Both fescues are best used in mixtures with other grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass. A fine fescue such as ‘Highlight Chewings’ is medium green and fine-bladed. Moderately disease-resistant, it tolerates low mowing, which is fatal to most fescues.

Warm-Season Grasses
Areas with warm or hot summer nights require grasses that are drought- and heat-tolerant.

  • Bermuda This popular type is a strong creeping and spreading grass, but it sometimes tends to develop thatchy spots. It is durable and pest-resistant, but it is meant only for sunny locations. In shade, Bermuda grass becomes thin and leggy.
  • Zoysia This grass is slow to become established. It requires 3 to 4 years in most areas, and weeds can take over before it makes a lawn. Deep-rooted and drought-tolerant, it becomes dormant during cold weather and tends to stay brown longer than other grasses.
  • St. Augustine This grass has a very coarse texture and is heat-tolerant. It spreads rapidly and can creep into nearby lawns and flower beds.
  • Turf-type tall fescues These are slow to establish themselves but are especially tolerant of wear and drought.

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