A new homeowner might think getting a lush lawn is as simple as buying a bag of seed, spreading it around with a seeder, and voila! Well, it’s more complicated than that. You need to consider at least a few variables: 1) The climate in your area. 2) The amount of sunlight your yard receives. And 3) The amount of water available. (As a general rule, your lawn needs about one inch of water each week.)
If you live In the United States, the country can be roughly divided into three sections, and different types of grasses thrive in each part. The northern section, where cool-season grasses do well, stretches from New England to Washington state. The southern part of the country, from Florida to California, is where hot season grasses excel. In between, in states like Maryland and Ohio, both cool and hot season grasses can do fine.
Below, you’ll learn about the different types of grass and which one is best for your specific needs.
Bentgrass is one of the most popular types of lawns for golf greens since the blades can withstand a close mowing. According to the helpful gardening tips at UrbanOrganicYield.com, this type of grass “thrives in moist, cool conditions and spreads rapidly in the spring.”
Keep in mind that Bentgrass needs to be mowed frequently. If you're not up for this task (and not planning to install a putting green), another type of grass may be a better fit.
Homeowners in the southern U.S. like Centipede grass since the varietal prefers moist, acidic soil and can thrive in full sun and survive in partial shade.
On the plus side it’s a low-maintenance grass: It doesn’t require as much fertilizing or watering as other varieties, and can tolerate moderate amounts of traffic.
The plant also has a natural weed resistance, making it an ideal option if you don't want to spend time constantly pulling infiltrators out of your lawn.
However, Centipede grass does have some downsides. It tends to be slow-growing and can take a while to fill in an area. During winter months, the warm-season grass goes dormant.
It’s also not as tolerant of shade as other types of grass and can suffer in areas with poor drainage.
Be sure to do research if you’re thinking about planting centipede grass. Some sections of the U.S. have a better growing climate for centipede than others.
Zoysia is a warm-season variety that goes dormant in cold weather — typically in October, returning in April. The very low-maintenance grass does well in full sun or partial shade, although four hours of sunlight is desired for the plant to thrive.
Opt for Zoysia where you want a thicker lawn because it spreads by rhizomes. It’s also naturally repels insects and diseases. One drawback: It isn't as drought tolerant as some other types of grass.
This warm-season, fine texture turfgrass is popular in the southern and western United States. Drought tolerant, it can go long periods of time without water and still remain green. It also does well in full sun (it likes about eight hours of sunlight) and can handle moderate traffic. Mowing it to a quarter-inch length is ideal.
One downside to Bermuda grass is that it can be invasive. If you're not careful, it can quickly take over your lawn, so make sure you keep an eye on it! For this reason, Bermuda grass may not be the best choice if you have a small yard or live in a densely populated area.
Fine fescue is a type of cool-season grass that likes to be mowed every 7 to 10 days at a height of about three inches. A versatile option, it’s appropriate choice for people who live in climates with hot summers and cold winters (like the middle of the U.S.) and grows well in both sun and shade.
Watering every other day is good in colder seasons and watering every day in the high temps is ideal. You’ll need to aerate and overseed it once a year, likely in September.
Tall fescue tolerates a bit of traffic: If you have children or pets that like to run around on your lawn, you may want to consider it. Occasionally, the grass gets a brown patch fungus that must be treated. Creeping red fescue does great if you have numerous shady areas on your lawn. Rye and fescue grass blends are also available on the market and offer many of the positives of both types, including shade tolerance and year-round color.
Another cool-season grass that does well in the northern states, Bluegrass has a fine texture and is often used for lawns and golf courses. The blades need plenty of water and fertilizer to keep it looking great. It doesn't do as well in hot weather, so be sure to consider the climate before choosing Bluegrass.
If you research the best type of grass, the chances of having a healthy, beautiful lawn increase manyfold. Think about the climate you live in and how much time you're willing to spend maintaining the grass. Keep in mind, this is just a shortlist of options and other grasses may also work for your locale. If you do your homework and make the right decision, you'll enjoy your lawn even more.