Given the expansive land area of the United States, homeowners in different regions will experience varying climates and growing conditions that may challenge the type of grass they can grow in their yards. In the north, where the growing seasons are short and the climates extreme, certain varieties of grass will thrive. In the south, where the soil may be clay or sandy with mild winters and long hot summers, those same grasses may not do as well. A lawn care specialist can help determine which type will thrive on your lawn.
Cool weather grasses:
Bentgrass: This type of grass tolerates close mowing, but does not tolerate hot, dry weather or cold winters. The variety is better for golf courses, since it is low maintenance, can withstand droughts and tolerates high traffic. Unfortunately, it does require constant mowing.
Kentucky bluegrass: The most popular of the cool season grasses, Kentucky bluegrass spreads well and fills in bare spots. Bluegrass goes dormant in hot, dry weather and during the winter, but performs poorly in extreme shade. Be sure to water regularly and fertilize often to keep this grass healthy.
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Rough bluegrass: This type of grass does well in cool moist conditions, performs well in lower temperatures and responds well to fertilization and irrigation. Unfortunately, it is highly susceptible to insects and diseases.
Red fescue: This grass flourishes in cool shaded sites such as camps, resorts and cabins. It requires little in the way of water, fertilization or mowing.
Annual ryegrass: Mostly used as forage for animals, ryegrass can be used as a mix with other grasses to provide the dominate grass with more thickness and density.
Perennial ryegrass: Best for moist and cool environments, and where temperatures are not extreme. When used in the south, it has the highest maintenance requirement. Mowing, watering, fertilization and pest management is required for health.
Warm weather grasses:
Bahia: Resistant to drought, disease and insects, Bahia also survives in sand or clay. Predominately used along coastal areas in Florida, Bahia grass needs to be frequently mowed during hot weather.
Bermuda: Drought resistant, yet adaptable to various soils, Bermuda grass is used frequently for lawns in the south. It is also used for athletic fields, parks and golf courses. It does not flourish in the shade, but it can handle large amounts of traffic.
Centipede: This grass is slow growing, but it is ideal for lawns since it is low maintenance and does not require much fertilization or mowing.
Saint Augustine: Very popular in the Southern U.S., Saint Augustine is good for coastal regions. However, it performs poorly in cold climates and does not tolerate high traffic well.
Zoysia: Extremely drought tolerant, Zoysia is deep rooted, does well on sandy seashores and handles traffic well.
Native plants: When using plants that naturally grow in your area, you will find that they are usually drought resistant and give a variation in appearance from grass. Moreover, native plants are easily integrated with landscaping projects. Clover and moss are among the variety of plants used to cover lawns.
Artificial turf: Made of recycled materials including used tires, artificial lawns require no water, fertilization, weed killer or mowing. This choice is good for places where plant growth can be difficult.
Stone: Stone or gravel provides the owner with a variety of colors and sizes. Planning and intense labor is needed to establish the stone lawn, but once in place, it just needs to be hosed down, and sprayed with weed killer on occasion. If you live in an area where grass won't grow or don't have it in your existing landscape, consider using pea gravel as a pet-friendly surface. A small, loose, rounded, pebbly stone, pea gravel can be raked easily to remove pet and plant debris. It makes good paths, and is a reasonable, dust-reducing mulch. When choosing gravel, keep your pet's paws in mind. Smaller gravel can get stuck in between larger paws, which leads to it being tracked inside. Pea gravel also gets hot in direct sunlight, so it might be best for shaded areas.
Cedar bark mulch: Mulch is a good alternative for homes needing a grass alternative, as it also comes in a variety of sizes and does not heat up as gravel does.
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