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Cool Season Grasses

Northern lawns need a proper mix of grasses. Most are combinations of Kentucky bluegrass, creeping red fescue, and perennial ryegrass. This mixture provides the maximum amount of pest resistance and environmental adaptability. Each of these three grasses has distinct traits. A mix can provide a good quality lawn with below average to average care and will provide a lawn suitable for sun or partial shade.

Kentucky bluegrass is the most common lawn grass. Blends of Kentucky bluegrass cultivars can provide a very high quality lawn but such lawns usually require above average maintenance levels. The spreading growth habit helps fill in bare spots but the grass goes dormant during hot, dry, summer weather.

Creeping red fescue has thread-like leaves and is the most shade tolerant lawn grass. This does not mean the grass grows only in shade or that it will tolerate total shade. It grows well in full sun and in fact requires some sun during the day.

Only named cultivars of perennial ryegrass should be used in lawns. Common perennial ryegrass often dies during the winter and does not mow well.


Cool Season Grasses To Avoid

Annual ryegrass is often sold as the major component of low priced grass seed. It will die out during the winter, forming a lawn that only lasts a single season.

Rough bluegrass is often found in shady grass mixes. It has a light green color and does not blend well with other lawn type grasses. It does however do well in moist, shaded sites.

Tall fescue is one of the two worst lawn weeds. Yet seed is available in most stores. The grass blades of a clump of tall fescue always seem to stay taller than the rest of the lawn. There is no selective control for this grass as the chemicals that kill tall fescue also kill other lawn grasses. Pure stands of this wear tolerant grass are often used on playgrounds or roadsides.

Zoysia is a warm season grass that turns brown early in the fall and stays brown until late into the spring. It is not better than the cool season grasses more commonly used in a northern climate.

Bentgrass becomes established in a lawn and is the other of the two worst lawn weeds. The grass can tolerate very low mowings as on golf greens. At normal lawn heights it is shaggy and often dies out during the winter or during hot, dry weather. There is no selective control for bentgrass.

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Information contained in this site is not meant to replace the advice of a licensed professional. All tips and advice should be reviewed by your professional landscaper to confirm it pertains to your individual needs. Response times may vary based on providers.