The grass is the most important aspect of any healthy lawn. Maintaining your grass can be an arduous task, depending on which kind of the 12,000 species of grass you have. If you choose to have turfgrass installed on your lawn, there are two main classifications to keep in mind: warm season grass and cool season grass. The type of grass you choose depends largely on the climate in which you live, but for locations with varying temperatures (known as transition zones), choosing warm or cool season grass is a harder decision.
What is Turfgrass?
Turfgrass is any species of grass designed for residential lawns. Turfgrasses are narrow-leaved lush green grasses that can withstand traffic, like children and pets, and low mowing heights. Only a handful of turfgrasses known as cool season turfgrass can tolerate cold seasons. Warm season turfgrasses are species of grass better suited for warmer regions.
Warm Season Grass vs Cool Season Grass
If you live in the northern United States, consider cool season grass for your yard. This type of grass grows best between temperatures of 65 and 80°F. If you live in the southern United States, warm season grass is the better option. Cool season grass should be planted in early fall as cool season grasses establish themselves earlier and germinate quicker. While warm season grass should be planted in the late spring as warm season grass thrives in temperatures between 80 and 95°F. Warm season grass varieties may take longer to establish themselves as they spend the first few years digging deep roots in the soil.
What about states that experience snowy winters and hot summers? In Virginia, for example, it’s common for temperatures in the winter months to plummet to the low 20s, and then shoot up to the high 90s during the peak of summer. For these transition zones, winters are too cold for warm season grass, and summers are usually too hot for cool season grass. When choosing between the two types of grass, warm season grass is traditionally more popular for transition zones. Warm season grass is, however, more prone to turning brown when temperatures dip below 60°F. Cool season grass will also work in a transition zone, though you will need to devote more time to lawn maintenance than for warm season grass.
Popular Warm Season Grass Varieties
There are many different types of warm season grass, each with unique characteristics. Here is the most popular variety:
Bermudagrass can withstand droughts and is tolerant against salt. Bermudagrass is dark and invasive; it does not detach from the ground easily, and will need to be mowed extremely low. However, because Bermudagrass tends to stay put, it is ideal for active families with kids who often play in the yard.
Popular Cool Season Grass Varieties
Cool season grass looks best during late spring, but it can go dormant during extreme summers. Here’s a look at some of the most popular varieties of cool season grass:
While we’re placing Tall Fescue in the cool season list, it really is a classic transition zone grass. Tall Fescue requires low maintenance and can withstand both hot and cold temperatures. The main catch is that Tall Fescue grass does not do well in high-altitude regions, so if you live in an area with extreme winter conditions, you may want to consider another grass variety.
Kentucky Bluegrass is one of the best varieties of grass for areas of high shade. This grass fares well in a transition zone, but does not tolerate droughts or heavy sun exposure. One disadvantage about Kentucky Bluegrass is its susceptibility to disease. But with the proper care and maintenance, this grass will stand out fine.
Perennial Ryegrass is great for cool climates as it does not tolerate drought well. When kept in cool areas, this grass will have a strong green color. Additionally, Perennial Ryegrass adapts well to many different types of soil and helps keeps weeds at bay.
If you need a cool season grass with a tolerance for high shade, consider a Fine Fescue grass. There are several types of Fine Fescue, with Haps Fescue, Creeping Red, Sheep Fescue, and Chewings Fescue being the most common. All four types blend well with other cool season grasses but struggle with extreme heat.
Making the Final Decision
Choosing the right grass is an important decision. You want to do it right the first time so that you can enjoy it for many years. It’s essential to make sure the grass you choose is suitable for your climate. In addition to temperature, consider other factors like large trees casting shade over your yard or the amount of traffic your yard will endure from children and pets. Virginia is technically a transition zone, so choosing the right turfgrass for your yard can be challenging. Epling Landscaping and Lawn Service will not only help you decide which grass is right for your yard, we will install the grass for your, and get your yard looking lush and green. Call us today to learn more.