What is the right grass? This can be a daunting question, because of the large variety options available. Well, let’s shorten the list of options and make the choice a little more simple. First, certain grass types only grow in certain regions – take a look at the map. Here in New England, we fall in the cool-season grasses, which of course can survive the extremely cold winters.
Within that zone, there are really 4 options. And here they are.
1 – Kentucky Bluegrass – KBG is the most common and largely regarded as the King of Turf. It has a deep rich color and can be seen in many professional athletic fields throughout the cool season zone (for those that are not fake turf at this point, oh my). A great quality of KBG is it’s ability to self repair. It grows laterally through rhizomes and will fill in smaller patches. This does create a shallow root system however, which makes it a high maintenance lawn requiring plenty of watering and fertilizer. A big drawback to this seed is its long germination period, taking at least 21 days to sprout. This can be a turnoff for a diy homeowner.
2 – Perennial ryegrass – fine leaf blade and has a good color. Traditional ryegrass was a light green and not too popular, but current cultivars have darkened and now has a look similar to KBG. Ryegrass has a clump type growth and doesn’t spread, so does not self heal. It doesn’t do well in extreme temperatures, hot or cold, and has a weak resistance to disease. This grass is best used in a mixture, and typically not for the entire lawn. It has a quick germination, 7 days, and does very well with filling in barespots. Given its finer leaf blade, this grass bends with the mower direction and stripes awesome.
3 – Tall fescue -TTTF – turf type tall fescue. The bad name of clumping fescue (K31 type) is not quite a thing of the past, but has been replaced with a newer cultivar called turf type tall fescue. It is a very versatile grass type, does well in the sun and shade, has a deep root system so makes it more resistant to disease, traffic and even dog urine. It is low maintenance and has a great color, very similar to KBG. Germination rate of 7-14 days and does have some spreading ability to fill in bare spots. It can look clumpy and does need to be overseeded on a regular basis. The K31 shown on the right, is now a weedy grass. Very clumpy and thick blades, often confused with crabgrass and the color is light. It is still sold by some greenhouses and farm shows, it’s very cheap and can seduce diy homeowners into covering their property with it.
4 – Fine fescue – creeping red fescue, chewing fescue (left), hard fescue – all do great in the shade. It is a very thin blade so it gets trampled very easily and not ideal for an entire lawn. It is ideal however for for wooded areas or perhaps some ground cover in low traffic areas.
Mostly everything you will find are a blend of some sort, which is ideal. 1/3 of each – perennial ryegrass, tttf, and kbg is common. One of our favorites is to have a majority blend of the tttf along with the rest bluegrass. The options are really endless!
A couple of types to stay away:
Annual ryegrass – as the name suggests, it dies with the first freeze. The primary benefit to this seed is that it germinates very quickly, within several days there will be growth. Can be used quickly for erosion control or perhaps as a blend to get quick germination. Not ideal for much unless you like to seed the same spot every year.
Bentgrass – needs constant mowing and turns into a clumping mess if not. It is great for fairways and greens that get mowed daily, but not for your lawn. It is very intrusive as well. It has rhizomes similar to KBG, so it spreads like crazy and will overtake other grass types. It is more considered a weed and needs to be dealt. Mostly either kill it and reseed, or dig it up and put some sod down in its place.
Not sure this helped? May be more confused now? I just kept typing and there is actually a lot more to add. Grass is complicated actually, so give us a call and we can walk you through it.
Thanks for reading to the end,