Variations of Grass & Care Guide
There are many different types of grass available, and picking the right type of grass to fit the needs of your lawn can save you a lot of difficulties and time. If you plant a lawn with the wrong type of grass, then it will struggle, and you will need to spend a lot of time and effort looking after it and feeding it while ensuring that you buy the right type of grass for your lawn can save you a lot of time and effort. A well-chosen grass can thrive with almost no input needed for you and could look great without needing much care when it comes to looking after it.
But how do you go about picking the right type of grass? And when you’ve done that, how do you care for your chosen grass? Here at Best of Machinery, we’ve assembled a handy guide to different types of grass and how to care for them. With our guide, you will be able to get your head around what type of grass is the best for your lawn, and how to look after it best once you’ve finished planting your new lawn.
Why do Different Types of Grass Matter?
Grass is actually a catch-all term for an entire family of different species of plants. Each of these species comes in several different varieties, and all of those varieties all offer different advantages for different situations. All these different varieties of grass can look quite different from one another, and often have surprisingly different properties and requirements.
Some species of grass are well suited for growing well in wet environments, while other species are better suited to dry environments. Some grow best in hot conditions, while others are better off in cooler conditions. Choosing the right type of grass for your lawn requires working out what sort of conditions you live in and then selecting the right species for your environment.
But after you’ve chosen the right species of grass for the environment where you live, you will still need to pick a variety. The various different types of a species of grass might look similar on the surface,but they all have different properties and advantages. Some varieties are resistant to pests or disease, while others are better at surviving extreme weather conditions. This is an increasingly important consideration as climate change causes more frequent and more severe extreme weather conditions.
As a general rule, we would recommend buying a mix of different grass varieties, meaning that you’ve got some that are resistant to each major hazard that is likely to affect your lawn. That means that no matter what happens, some of your grass should survive.
Regions of the USA and Grass Types
There are three major regions of the continental USA, and each of these is well suited to a different kind of grass. Each region has different environmental conditions, and so will require different types of grass. These regions are the Northern Zone, the Southern Zone, and the Transition Zone. Let us take a look at each one in turn.
The Northern Zone is the coldest part of the US, comprising all of the Northern states and Canada. This is an area where summers are usually relatively cool, and winters can be extremely cold. This means that the Northern Zone is ideally suited to cool-season grasses such as perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, or varieties of tall fescue grass.
In contrast, the Southern Zone is the warmest area of the US, covering the majority of the southern half of the continent. Winters in the Southern Zone are usually relatively temperate, while summers can be very hot and dry, posing a problem for grasses reliant on constant water intake. This zone is well suited to warm-season grasses such as Bermuda grass, St Augustine grass, or centipede grass.
Between the Northern Zone and the Southern Zone is the Transition Zone, a problematic region that combines the hot, dry summers of the Southern Zone with the cold winters of the Northern Zone. This combination of extremes limits the range of grasses that can thrive in this environment. Warm-season grasses can be damaged by the cold winters, while cool-season grasses often die during the dry heat of summers. An excellent choice for this region is tall fescue, a species of grass that offers a high level of resilience to both cold and hot temperatures.
Cool-season grasses are adapted to survive well in cooler climates like those of the Northern Zone. These grasses grow well during the spring and fall and go dormant during the winter rather than dying. These grasses struggle with hot, dry conditions, and generally require high maintenance and regular watering during the summer.
Kentucky Bluegrass is one of the most popular choices of cool-season grass, and can also survive well in the transition zone and down the west coast. This is a medium textured grass with dark-colored leaves and is relatively resilient. It does, however, require a high level of light in order to thrive, and can require careful maintenance to reduce insect damage. This is because it is a major food source for several species of insects, and if neglected, these pests can cause devastation.
Warm-season grasses survive best in hotter climates like those of the Southern Zone, particularly the south and southwestern areas of the US, where summers can be very hot and dry. In dry weather, these grasses go dormant rather than dying, and they will recover when watered. However, these grasses tend not to survive cold weather well and therefore are not suited for the Northern Zone or other colder climates.
Bermuda grass is the best-known species of warm-season grass, as it is a particularly hardy and coarse grass that is capable of surviving a range of different conditions. Certain varieties are hardy enough to survive colder conditions better than most other warm-season grasses. It spreads fast and requires a high light level to grow, but it grows very fast and requires minimal care, rebounding very quickly and effectively from heavy wear and damage.
Mowing your lawn
When your grass grows too long, it requires a higher level of nutrients and more water in order to grow healthily and reliably. This means that keeping your lawn well-trimmed can make a significant difference to the amount of strain placed on your grass, making it much easier for the grass to stay strong and healthy. Mowing the grass also encourages most species of grass to grow thicker with better coverage, as cutting the blades encourages the plants to grow more leaves faster, giving a better surface for your lawn.
During the summer growing season, you should keep your lawn frequently mowed in order to keep it at its best. You don’t want to take off too much at once, though, as this can cause problems for the plants. Never remove more than a third of the total height at once, and try not to cut your grass any shorter than about 2.5 or 3 inches.
During winter, fall and spring, you can cut your grass shorter than during the summer, as the temperatures are generally lower. During the summer, though, you want to let it grow a bit longer to protect the soil from drying out. If you are working with warm-season grasses, it is generally advisable to let them grow a little longer than you would allow a cool-season grass to reach.
As a general rule, warm-season grasses require less watering than cool-season grasses. They are still going to need a bit of watering, though, particularly if you live in a dry area. No matter what type of grass your lawn is made up of, you will need to water your lawn with a decent garden hose occasionally. You should water your lawn heavily when it really needs it, rather than watering lightly on a regular basis.
When the grass of your lawn starts to dry out, you will need to water it. You can identify when it needs to be watered because the color of the grass will change, and it will become less vibrantly, visibly green, as well as less springy. If you step on the grass and it stays flat after you remove your feet rather than springing back up a few seconds after you move, then it is time to water the grass. Ideally, you should water early in the day, as this means that the water will take longer to evaporate and will keep your lawn a little cooler as the day warms up.
When you water your lawn, no matter what type of grass you are dealing with, you need to give it enough water to soak down about 6 inches into the ground, as this will encourage the roots to grow properly. Watering less heavily will stop the water from soaking properly into the ground, and this will encourage shallow root growth rather than healthy, deep roots.
There are many different types of grass that you can use to grow a lawn, and which type is best suited for your lawn will depend on the environment in which you live. The most important considerations are temperature and humidity, although the three zones provide a good enough start point to choose a type of grass that should survive relatively well in your area.
No matter what type of grass you choose for your lawn, though, taking care of it should follow the same rough procedure outlined above. Mow the lawn frequently, only taking a small part of its height off at any one time, and water rarely and deeply. If you’ve planted an appropriate type of grass for your area, it should be easy enough to keep it healthy and alive with minimal effort!