Lawn Fertilizing and Weed Control Experts
Safe Lawn Treatments
June 1, 2017
Warm Season Grasses
June 2, 2017

Cultivating a beautiful lawn requires a lot of knowledge about how to properly maintain thousands of individual plants. Knowing the type of grass you are growing is half the battle when it comes to proper maintenance and care. A good portion of the lawns in the Southern states is Bermuda grass, which is a fine-bladed, drought-resistant grass that can tolerate long periods of direct sunlight and high temperatures with little water. However, many lawns also do maintain some cool weather grasses because they remain green all winter long as opposed to going dormant as warm-season grasses do. Warm season and cool season grasses do have similarities, but they do have different requirements for the amount of sun, water, nutrients, weed control prodcuts, and mowing height required to keep it healthy and lush.

Tall Fescue

This type of grass is well-adapted to both sunny and partially shady areas in lawns. It provides a medium to coarse-textured lawn, which is low maintenance as it is more weed and disease resistant than other forms of grass. It is also resistant to stress, high temperatures, and drought conditions. Caring for tall fescue is generally simple. It requires a relatively high cutting height–up to 3″, and does not need to be cut as frequently as other types of grasses. This type of grass does well when it is watered deeply but infrequently as its extensive root system makes it fairly drought resistant. Take care not to over water as the thick, coarse mat can easily retain too much moisture, which makes it susceptible to weed invasion, fungus, and pests.

Fine Fescue

Fine fescues are some of the most complex grasses. They are typically made up of several different varieties of grasses including hard fescue, Chewings fescue, sheep fescue, creeping red fescue, and slender red creeping fescue. However, generally speaking, fine fescues do very well in more temperate climates in the United States. Fine fescues offer a fine-bladed, thick carpet-like appearance. This type of grass also does exceedingly well in poor quality soils such as sand, silt, and clay. They have little requirement for added nitrogen applications, and they can remain vibrant and hearty in some of the most extreme conditions including drought (though it will go dormant), shade, salt, and cooler temperatures. Mow fine fescues between 1-3″ with a very sharp blade to prevent leaf fraying. Watering should be done infrequently as over-watering can result in thinning grass and increase the potential for disease. Fine fescues are not as tolerant of heavy traffic as other grasses and should not be planted in high-traffic areas or areas of heavy use.

Kentucky Bluegrass

If you have a lawn that is over 35 years old, odds are it consists mainly of Kentucky bluegrass. It is a deep green color with a medium textured blade. It grows best in the fall, winter, and spring months when temperatures are cooler. It prefers full sun, but will still grow reasonably well in shady conditions. For use throughout the country, Kentucky bluegrasses are often mixed in with other varieties to achieve the desired effect and coverage for most climates. This type of grass is not the most drought-resistant species, and periods of prolonged, hot temperatures can make it prone to weed invasion as well as pest infestations. For optimal growth, Kentucky bluegrass should be mowed between 1.5″ and 2.5″, and fertilization should occur during periods of high growth.

Perennial Ryegrass

This type of grass is often mixed with Kentucky bluegrasses to provide optimal growth. It does especially well in coastal states where soil tends to be more sandy than other areas of the country. This type of grass is a rich, deep green color and is finely textured. Optimal growing conditions require full sun, though it can do well in some shade. Perennial ryegrass is the most traffic-tolerant of the cool-season grasses and can handle a lot of activity, which is what makes it so popular. Its quick germination makes it a popular choice of overseeding Bermuda grass lawns. Perennial ryegrasses should be mowed to a height between 1.5″ and 2.5″, and it requires frequent, deep watering to thrive.

Selecting the Right Cool-Season Grass

The best cool-season grass will depend upon its intended use. If you are aiming for a yard where your family can run and explore, a traffic-resistant grass will be more suitable for your lawn like perennial ryegrass. One of the better types of perennial ryegrass seed is Barenbrug Perennial II. While it is more costly than other brands of perennial ryegrass seed, it offers fast germination and excellent quality fine-bladed turf. However, if you are looking for a low-maintenance type of yard, you will likely be best sticking with tall fescue. Vigoro tall fescue grass seed is both highly-rated and economically priced. If you are the type of person who enjoys spending a lot of time tending to a showcase-worthy lawn, your best bet will be to cultivate fine fescues. Nature’s Seed provides an excellent fine fescue seed blend which also tends to germinate quickly. If you want a type of grass that can remain dark green all year long, then Kentucky bluegrass is right up your alley. Nature’s Seed also offers an excellent Kentucky bluegrass that has a small amount of perennial ryegrass mixed with the seed to allow for faster germination.

Generally speaking, cool-season grasses are not just for more temperate regions of the United States. Many of them do well in warmer climates and are used to cultivate turf in all regions of the country. They offer a lot of benefits that a lot of warm-season grasses do not. Most cool-season grasses require a taller mowing height than their warm-season counterparts do. Most of them require direct sunlight but are hardy enough to do reasonably well even in shady or partially shady areas. These types of grasses typically require more watering than warm-season grasses, as well. However, with the exception of Kentucky bluegrass, most of them are fairly low-maintenance varieties that can withstand infrequent mowing and a wide temperature range. Fertilizing should be done during active growing season, which tends to be the cooler seasons of the year – fall through spring. Properly caring for cool-season grasses, however, can provide you with a luxuriously vibrant green lawn all season long.