Table of Contents
- Factors to Consider When Choose Grass Seed
- Best Grasses for Full Sun
- Best Grasses for Shade
- Categories of Popular Grasses
- Pros and Cons of Cool Season Grass Seed
- Pros and Cons of Warm Weather Grass Seed
- Suggested Grass for Typical Climate Zones
Growing a beautiful lawn successfully requires you to consider many factors. It all begins with landscaping and appropriate, top quality seed. Consider your choices carefully when it comes to seed for your lawn. I have found that brands such as Blue Tag Certified Seed may have a standard level of cleanliness but still contain some noxious weed seeds. For higher standards choose one such as Tournament Quality TM perennial ryegrass.
Factors to Consider When Choose Grass Seed
Other factors to consider are your soil, landscaping, climate, and what your maintenance needs are going to be.
Landscape Considerations for Lawns
Take a stroll through the area you are going to seed and gather information. Identify opportunities, constrictions, and the general condition of the ground. Note wind patterns, the slope of the land, trees, shrubs, sunny and shady areas. Later on in this article, I will recommend the best grasses for sun and shade.
Testing Soil for Lawns
Good soil is an important factor for growing a healthy lawn. Nearly half of the grass plant grows below the ground’s surface so it is important for you to determine if the soil is good enough for root growth. Using a soil probe, extract a few soil cores. Squeezing the soil will give you an idea of the sand and clay content. A soil test will confirm your observations. Generally, most grass types prefer an organic matter content between 3 and 5 percent and a pH of 6.5 to 7.5
Degree of Maintenance Needed for Lawns
It is invaluable to determine early the degree of maintenance your new lawn will require. Decide if you will be able to maintain it yourself, with one or two assistants, or if you will need to employ the services of a lawn care company.
Low maintenance lawns are usually industrial grounds, golf courses, or cemeteries, but some home lawns can also be low maintenance if they require little to no watering other than natural precipitation. They only need to get enough water to prevent drought stress. They may be fertilized as little as once per year. They are kept mowed at a high height. Some good choices of seed for the low maintenance lawn are: buffalo grass, common bluegrass, forage-type tall fescue, Bermuda grass, centipede grass, and Bahia.
Medium maintenance lawns are frequently watered and regularly mowed to within the 2 to 3-inch range. Two to three fertilizations a year will keep the lawn green. Most home lawns fall into this category of maintenance. Good choices for these lawns are improved seeded Bermuda grass, premium bluegrass, improved Zoysia grass, perennial Ryegrass mixtures, and turf-type tall fescue.
Most high-maintenance lawns are estate grounds and theme parks, but some upscale homes will have lawns requiring this level of maintenance. They are irrigated, fertilized three to five times per year,and mowed low. Of course, this level requires the greatest expense. Hybrid Bermuda grass, creeping Bentgrass, premium bluegrass, and Ryegrass are good high maintenance lawn choices.
Best Grasses for Full Sun
Three best grass seed for full sun
Jonathan Green 10860 Full Sun is a high-quality grass seed that is excellent for tolerating stressful, sunny locations. It is insect and disease-resistant.
Scott’s Turf Build Sunny Grass Seed uses a special technology that makes it absorb twice the water as undercoated seed. It contains essential nutrients and a fungicide.
Green Thumb Premium Sunny Grass Seed is a mixture of Kentucky Bluegrass, fine fescue, and perennial ryegrasses, all which thrive in full sun.
Best Grasses for Shade
Three best grass seed for shade
Jonathon Green Dense Shade Grass Mixture is a top brand for growing grass in shady areas where other seed mixtures fail. It has a natural insect-resistant quality.
Lesco Shade Mix Grass Seed is excellent for growing grass under shade trees. It produces a dense lawn with a dark green color. It is also drought and disease-resistant.
Smart Seed Sun/Shade North Mix is a versatile seed that can be used with success in sunny to moderately shady areas.It produces a thick, dark blue-green lawn that is also drought resistant. Its unique ingredients will introduce beneficial micro-organisms into your lawn.
Categories of Popular Grasses
Common grasses are divided into two broad categories: Cool-season grass, and warm-season grass. Cool-season refers to a variety of grasses that thrive best in cooler temperatures, namely the cooler regions of the country. Southern states are generally too hot for this variety of grass.
Warm Season Grass is the name given to the various grasses that thrive best in temperatures between 80 and 95 degrees. They are used primarily in the southern and western regions, and also will do okay in the so-called transition zone. I will discuss climate and grasses further at the end of this article.
Pros and Cons of Cool Season Grass Seed
Kentucky Bluegrass is probably the most popular cool season grass. It is medium textured, dark green, and dense. High-temperature tolerance is fair, but not great. Some cultivars of Kentucky Bluegrass are susceptible to pests.
Turf Type Tall Fescue is the coarsest of all cool season grasses. It is a bunch grass and will not spread laterally. Tall Fescue has an extensive root system and is pest and drought resistant. It has excellent heat tolerance and fair cold temperature tolerance.
Fine leaf Fescue is composed of the species Hard Fescue, Creeping Red Fescue, Sheep Fescue, and Chewings Fescue. All but the Creeping Red Fescue variety are bunch grasses and do not spread easily. They all have good to excellent shade tolerance.
Perennial ryegrasses are often mixed with Kentucky bluegrass spreaders for quick establishment and wear tolerance. They germinate rapidly and have fair to good cold and warm temperature tolerance. Like fescues, they do not spread laterally.
Creeping bentgrass has good cold tolerance but only fair heat tolerance. A very low and fine-textured grass, it is considered high maintenance and will need frequent watering and mowing. It is a rapidly spreading grass, but it is susceptible to many fungal diseases.
Pros and Cons of Warm Weather Grass Seed
Bermuda grass is the most popular warm weather grass. Common Bermuda grass is somewhat coarse, but there are some improved seed types of this species that are medium-fine. The cold tolerance for Bermuda grass is poor to moderate. Its heat tolerance is good. Bermuda grass is an aggressive spreader and the establishment of the Bermuda grass loan is fast.
Similar to Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass also spreads quickly but has a slower growth rate. Compared to other grasses, Zoysia is stiff. It has a good tolerance for both cold and hot temperatures. Its deep root system allows Zoysia to avoid drought.
Centipede grass is a low-maintenance, moderately coarse grass. It tolerates cold very poorly but can stand the heat quite well. Centipede grass is slow to grow and spread. It does produce a dense, attractive lawn.
Buffalo grass is a low-maintenance warm-season grass variety. It has a medium to fine texture. It is one of the few varieties native to the United States. Buffalo grass’s ability to tolerate heat and cold is good to excellent. It doesn’t tolerate shade or heavy traffic very well.
Suggested Grass for Typical Climate Zones
You will find it helpful to have a basic knowledge of the different climate zones. There are four main grass adaption zones in the United States. An additional zone in the central part of the country can be called the Transition Zone. Do not confuse these zones with the USDA plant hardiness zones for other plants and trees.
Typical Climate Zones
The climate zones are identified as Cool/Humid, Warm/Humid, Cool/Arid, Warm/Arid. These conditions can overlap in the Transition Zone which stretches from extreme eastern New Mexico to the central East Coast.
The Cool/Humid Zone in the Northwest gets lots of moisture. Grasses that do well here include bluegrass, ryegrass, and the fescues. Zoysia grass and buffalo grass is suitable for the eastern parts of this zone.
In the Warm/Arid Zone, Buffalo grass and Bermuda grass are the best types for lawns. This zone section stretches through the Southwest to central Texas. Some homeowners in Southern California favor tall fescue lawns even though the summers there are long and hot. Tall fescue has a good ability to survive the heat.
The Cool/Arid Zone supports cool season grasses if irrigation is used. Buffalo grass is a good choice because of its ability to survive drought.
The Warm/Humid Zone in the south is where you will find warm season grasses. Bermuda grass, carpet grass, Zoysia, and Centipede are all used within this region.
The Transition Zone is an area that transitions between warm and cool season grasses. No one type best fits this area, however, Zoysia and perennial rye grass do well here.