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Having a beautiful lawn is not just about how you take care of it, as some people might tell you. The reason why so many homeowners end up paying a lot on lawn maintenance is that they made some bad decisions in the past, like choosing an improper grass type or watering too much because of not knowing the impact that shade has on your grass.
No matter what you prefer, sod or seeds, one of the most important choices you will make is what type of grass you will use.
No grass fits all scenarios or performs great everywhere. If you’re stumped with choosing the right type of grass for your project, the best thing that you can do is work with a lawn care professional who can provide you with advice based on your situation. Everything starts with your personal goals.
Some questions you do want to ask when you choose a type of grass are:
- Do you enjoy mowing the lawn? It can be good for your mental health but only if you actually enjoy it.
- Do you want to use less water?
- Is there much shade where the lawn will be installed?
- Do you want to use fewer chemicals?
- Is there a lot of foot traffic where the lawn will be installed?
The answers to these questions can do wonders in helping you to choose the perfect grass for the landscape you want to create. Think about the challenges of the area where you live, like high heat, average rainfall, rocky soil or harsh winters.
The five most common types of grass used these days are presented below.
St. Augustine Grass
The texture of this grass is coarse, and it can easily adapt to coastal, moist areas that have mild winter temperatures. You can use it on different soil types and can do really well with some minimal mowing. Moderate shade is necessary.
This grass is a “carpet” variety that offers high heat tolerance. St. Augustine appeared in the West Indies, Western Africa, and Gulf Coast regions. The only problem with it is that high foot traffic is not handled well. Also, if you live in an area with some drought issues, you should avoid this particular grass.
Suggested St. Augustine Grass varieties: Seville and Raleigh
Zoysia is a perennial grass that can have a fine or coarse texture. It works with numerous soils and performs really well in the southern climates with semi-shaded environments. More sun is needed in the north. The grass does well when faced with drought but if there is a severe lack of water, it can change color. Wear tolerance is excellent so zoysia is preferred for play areas and golf courses.
The problem with zoysia is that it grows at a slow rate. The recuperative potential is poor when overused or damaged.
Suggested Zoysia Grass varieties: Meyer, El Toro, and Belair.
When your home is in an area that constantly faces prolonged drought and extreme heat, this is a type of grass to consider. It does really well when high fertilization and irrigation are not present. You do not need to mow it much and it can be seen as a perfect choice for homeowners seeking a meadow or native look.
If you do not mow Buffalo Grass, expect it to grow really high, even up to 10 feet tall. However, it is not difficult to keep it at a height of around 3 inches. Also, remember that Buffalo Grass will not do well if faced with excessive foot traffic or the region is too shady.
Suggested Buffalo Grass varieties: Cody, Bowie, and Bison.
Tall Fescue Grass
This type of grass is perfect for a moist environment but it also does really well if faced with drought. It is preferred in transition areas with high humidity and hot temperatures. You can use it with various soil types but the best option is usually a well-drained clay soil.
You do not want to use Tall Fescue Grass in a region where grass has to be mowed to under one and a half inches due to local regulations.
Suggested Tall Fescue Grass varieties: Kentucky-31 and Alta
This is a really interesting type of grass since it grows really well during spring, winter and fall but does go dormant when the summer is hot. Kentucky Bluegrass is native to Europe, Asia and North America. It has moderate shade and wear tolerance. Light abuse does not disturb it and rebound after damage is fast.
Kentucky Bluegrass is among the most popular types of grass because it adapts really well to various uses, like golf courses, sports fields, play areas, and common house lawns. It does not do great if faced with deep shade and regular fertilizing is necessary.
Suggested Kentucky Bluegrass varieties: Parade, Vanessa, and Kimono.
Tips to Grow a Lush Lawn
Simply put, you choose the perfect type of grass for your lawn based on shade, soil and weather conditions. However, even with the best possible grass, you can still end up with a bad-looking lawn if you do not know how to take care of it. When referring to the grass type, some tips that you should know include:
- The types that have always been around and were improved by scientists are much more resistant to pests and diseases.
- The cool-season grasses are much better in the northern climates.
- If you know that a grass variety is recommended for a specific region, it does not mean that it will be good where you live.
- Take as much time as you need to properly prepare the soil before you install new grass.
- A blend of different types of grass can promote a truly disease-resistant and healthy ecosystem.
- Be aware of whether the considered grass type is best when it is started by seed or by sod pieces.
- If applicable, know when you need to sow (usually fall or spring).
- Always consider the native grass type of the area where you live. It usually does best as it has naturally adapted to the growing conditions of the region.
Last but not least, growing a perfect lawn is all about the choices you make and how you take care of the grass. If you do not know much about lawn care, the best thing you can do is to hire a professional. Use their services until you are comfortable with taking care of your lawn alone. Obviously, if you do not have the time needed to properly take care of the grass, just keep working with the specialists.
Kym Preslar is a bit of a gardening and home improvement fanatic. She’s been working on her garden for over 5 years and loves writing about everything landscape-related. Whether it’s keeping care of sod or the greenhouse, she’s been there and done it all. Currently, she’s enjoying her time working at SodLawn as their Content Manager.