Grass Varieties

Fine Fescue

Characteristics: Cool-season grass – deep green color – finest grass blade of any lawn grass – upright growth habit creates a pleasing uniformity – has rapid germination and seedling establishment.

Recommended Usage: Well adapted to cool summers and high altitudes – can do well even in cold and arid climates – often used in mixtures with other grasses because of an ability to blend – frequent component of bluegrass mixtures because it grows well in shade or drought-dry soil – used with a warm-season grass in the South, it provides green winter color.

Temperature Tolerance: Good – tolerates hot and cold weather well – has good winter hardiness – can be used in areas that are subject to widest temperature fluctuations.

Drought Tolerance: Very good drought tolerance for a cool-season grass can go dormant in summer if irrigation is withheld, upon return of moisture supply it will green up again.

Shade Tolerance: Moderate – most shade tolerant of all grasses but needs some sun – best cool season grass for dry, shady lawns.

Wear Resistance: Moderate – grass blades are non-succulent and hardy making an ideal play surface – does not recover well from severe injury

Maintenance

Water Needs: Low to moderate – water thoroughly (at least 1 inch) once or twice a week during most summer conditions – can enter summer dormancy if no water available.

Mowing & Thatching: Mow regularly with a reel or rotary mower – slow growth habit results in a uniform response to mowing – does best with a mowing height of 1 – 2 1/2 inches – will tolerate close mowing in cool climates. Fine fescue can be left unmowed for a “meadow look.”

Soil & Fertilizer Needs: Tolerates acid soil well, growing within a soil acidity range of pH 5.0 to 6.5 – has the lowest fertilizer requirements of any cool-season grass – apply a high nitrogen fertilizer with 1 lb. of actual nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. per year split between spring and fall application.

Disease, Weed & Insect Control: Most varieties have good resistance to many turfgrass diseases. Mixed with other grasses, fine fescue adds disease resistance to the turf. It has occasional susceptibility to summer diseases in hot climates, especially in moist, fertile soil.

Kentucky Bluegrass

Characteristics: Cool-season grass – dark green color and dense, beautiful appearance, medium leaf texture with excellent leaf uniformity. Forms a strong sod via rhizomes.

Recommended Usage: Widely adapted basic lawn grass of the cool, humid, semi-arid and temperate regions – recommended for residential and commercial lawns. Also, widely used on sports fields and play areas, parks, cemeteries, commercial lawns and roadsides.

Temperature Tolerance: Thrives in cool weather and will tolerate very cold winters – undergoes stress during extremely hot weather, but will maintain good color and appearance if properly watered and cared for.

Drought Resistance: Medium – can go into summer dormancy when irrigation is withheld; upon return of moisture supply, will green up again. Some varieties have better tolerance to heat and drought.

Shade Adaptation: Fair to poor – thrives in sunny areas – a few varieties are moderately adapted to partial shade.

Wear Resistance: Medium – recovers quickly from occasional abuse – will withstand moderate foot traffic usage – rhizomes enhance quick recovery, especially in spring and fall.

Maintenance

Water Needs: Moderate – apply 0.5 to 1 inch of water as a deep soaking every 5 to 7 days to encourage a deep healthy root system during dry or hot periods. Avoid frequent, shallow watering that results in shallow roots, permitting weed germination and growth.

Mowing & Thatching: Optimum mowing height 1 1/2 – 2 inches for a high quality lawn. Mow regularly with a sharp rotary or reel mower, allowing clippings from frequent mowing to remain on the lawn. Never remove more than 1/3 of the shoot growth at one mowing. Kentucky bluegrass may develop some thatch at higher nitrogen levels. Prime time to dethatch is in early fall.

Soil & Fertilization Needs: Performs best in fertile, non-acid reacting soil with good drainage. Fertilize twice a year, spring and fall, with a complete fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. Apply 2.5 to 4 lbs. actual nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. per year for higher requiring nitrogen varieties also apply fertilizer at 0.5 to I lb. nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. every 4-6 weeks. During summer, fertilizer rates should be reduced by 50%. Water thoroughly after fertilization.

Disease, Weed & Insect Control: New varieties have improved resistance to diseases such as leafspot, stripe smut, powdery mildew, dollar spot, Typhula blight, summer patch and rusts. If broadleaf weeds need to be controlled with herbicide, the turf should be well established and in vigorous condition. Practically all insects that damage lawns can be controlled biologically or with insecticides.

Tall Fescue

Characteristics: Cool-season grass – medium to dark green color, moderate density – more extensive root system than any other cool-season turfgrass. Texture ranges from coarse to medium for newer turf-types. A bunch-type grass.

Recommended Usage: Very good transition zone grass – adapted to moderately cold winters and warm summers – good tough play lawn – recommended for a wide variety of uses, including residential and commercial landscapes, roadsides, parks, recreation areas, and sports fields.

Temperature Tolerance: Good heat tolerance for a cool-season grass – grows in a wide range of temperatures in the transitional climatic zone between cool and warm climates – less cold hardy than most cool-season grasses.

Drought Resistance: Good – one of the better cool-season turfgrasses, fairly deep root system helps avoid drought. Can go into summer dormancy, with brown leaves, when irrigation is withheld; upon return of moisture supply, will green up again. Some varieties have better tolerance to heat and drought.

Shade Adaptation: Good in transition zone – prefers full sun – moderately tolerant to partial shade. Of the cool-season grasses, only fine leafed rescues rank higher in shade adaptation.

Wear Resistance: Good – suitable for moderate recreation and foot traffic areas exhibiting good initial wear recovery, especially in spring and fall when growth is rapid.

Maintenance

Water Needs: Moderate – apply 0.5 to 1 inch of water as a deep soaking every 3 to 7 days to encourage a deep, healthy root system during dry or hot periods. Avoid frequent, shallow watering that results in shallow roots, permitting weed germination and growth.

Mowing & Thatching: Optimum mowing height of 2 to 3 inches for a high quality lawn. Mow regularly with a sharp rotary or reel mower, allowing clippings from frequent mowing to remain on the lawn. Never remove more than 1/3 of the shoot growth at one mowing. Tall fescue forms very little thatch.

Soil & Fertilizer Needs: Adapts to a wide range of soil conditions – has rather deep extensive root system for a cool-season grass that makes excellent use of soil moisture and mineral nutrients – good tolerance to saline soil conditions. Fertilize twice a year, spring and fall, with a complete fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphate and potassium – apply N at 2 to 4 lbs. per sq. ft. per year. Will respond well to high nitrogen applications to achieve a higher quality turf. Water thoroughly after fertilization.

Disease, Weed & Insect Control: Varieties are available that are resistant to net blotch, brown patch and crown rust. For weeds, chemical controls are most effective during fall and spring.