The type of grass you choose for your lawn will depend on the climate, soil quality and what is most aesthetically pleasing.
There are six types of yard grasses which include Bermudagrass, Bluegrass, Buffalograss, Centipedegrass, Seashore Paspalum and Zoysia. Here is a more in depth look at each one:
Chicken grass, also known as grass, tube grass, Bermuda grass is a perennial plant in the herbaceous family, growing wild or grown in warm climates in many parts of the world. Chicken grass is believed to be native to Africa or Asia..
The Bermuda grass is a good drought resistant, cool season grass that grows well in sandy and rocky soil. It also has great salt tolerance which makes it ideal for coastal areas. It tolerates shade fairly well. In the US it is planted primarily in the coastal regions from Virginia to Texas, but mostly along the gulf coast. Its color is bluish-green to a purplish color.
This grass does require more attention than the other types. Mowing should be conducted every 2-4 weeks depending on the height you desire, but it should never he under three inches. Fertilization is also critical for maintaining a lush and healthy lawn. It should never be over fertilized as this can cause it to burn in the summer.
The Bermuda grass does not need much water during the summer months, so it can go untouched for three to four weeks at a time. If you do not have a well managed lawn, it will require more frequent mowing. It is not very shade tolerant, and will require fertilizer in order to grow in the shade.
For this reason it should not be planted directly into an area with trees that block sunlight or other grasses that will compete for nutrients. It can also go dormant during the cold months of winter, but it needs to remain moist throughout this period. If this is not possible, you can either keep feeding it a low amount of nutrients or let the Bermuda grass die and plant something else in its place.
A major drawback to Bermuda grass is that it spreads by underground rhizomes which means it will start popping up all over your yard if it is planted anywhere but the lawn.
A cool season grass, the bluegrass is a popular choice for golf courses and home lawns across the US. Its vibrant green color provides an attractive contrast to other landscape plants during summer months. Bluegrass has excellent drought tolerance making it ideal for areas with seasonal water restrictions. It is categorized as a fine textured grass with small leaves that can get dusty in dry weather, requiring frequent mowing to keep the lawn looking healthy and attractive.
Bluegrass tends to be a slow-growing grass, but it is a heavy feeder and requires regular fertilization. This type of grass will not do well in shady areas with low light conditions. It also does not tolerate wet soil or clay soils. It needs full sun with even moisture so your lawn doesn't go dormant during the summer months.
There are also certain pests and diseases that can hurt your bluegrass lawn, like feeding from birds and animals or fungal disease. If your grass does develop a disease, you can use a fungicide to treat it. This will not work in all situations so if the problem persists, you may need to remove and replant.
Bluegrass needs about three inches of water per week during spring and summer months when temperatures are high. Once temperatures drop in the fall, water needs drop back down to two or three inches per week.
Since it is a cool season grass, it will go dormant in the winter and require no water at all. If you live in an area with low temperatures for a good portion of the year, you would need to plant this type of grass in well-drained soil that receives about two inches of water per week.
Buffalo grass is a tough perennial plant that grows well in many areas of the US. It is a cool season grass, which means it does not tolerate heat very well, and requires a well-drained soil.
Buffalo grass resembles the look of Kentucky bluegrass, except in color and growth habit. It has a deep orange color in the fall and winter months when it is dormant, which disappears with the warm weather. It is ideal for use on golf courses to prevent erosion or for lawns that are subject to extreme conditions like drought.
The Buffalo grass requires moist, well drained soil that is slightly acidic and has a pH between 6.5-7.0. It does not grow well in the shade so it should be planted where it will get at least 5 hours of sunlight per day. When planting, over-seed with ryegrass to help keep the Buffalo grass well managed. Make sure that the buffalo is not planted too close to trees, as this can cause the roots of the tree to die because they do not get enough sunlight.
Buffalo grass prefers cooler temperatures for optimal growth and health such as 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 45-50 degrees at night. It is also very important to water the grass regularly, keeping it moist but not soggy at all times.
Buffalo grass does best when fertilized in the fall with nitrogen based fertilizer. You should fertilize only once per year using 0.5 to 1 lb of nitrogen. There are many fertilizers on the market that have a balanced blend of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; however, to prevent burning you should stay away from high nitrogen blends.
Mowing buffalo grass is not recommended until it has been growing for several months. When mowing you want to use a sharp blade set at the highest level to avoid scalping. You want to mow at a height of 2-3 inches, mulching will leave the grass looking better if desired. The Buffalo grass is not good for use during winter months as it will remain very brown and dormant making it more susceptible to disease and pests like snails or slugs.
Centipedegrass is one of the most popular grasses for warm weather areas. It prefers full sun and will quickly turn brown if it does not get enough sunlight. The best time to seed centipedegrass is in the spring or fall when temperatures are above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pests often attack centipedegrass, most notably the chinch bug. It is important to keep weeds out of centipedegrass lawns as they will compete with the grass for nutrients and water. This is also threatened by nematodes and leaf diseases that are spread by insects like the southern mole cricket and certain species of fungus.
There is very hardy and requires less maintenance than bluegrass or fescues, making it a cheaper alternative to using more expensive grasses for warm weather areas. It performs best when maintained at 2 inches in height, cut several times a year during periods that are being actively grown. The centipedegrass is best used for backyard gardens or large landscapes with kids and pets.
Centipedegrass should be fertilized before planting using a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10. It needs to be grown in well drained soil that has a pH around 6.5. If this grass grows too tall, it can be easily controlled through mowing. You want to cut no more than one third of the plant at once, and water thoroughly afterward to prevent weeds from growing in the freshly cut area.
Centipedegrass is very susceptible to heat and will brown quickly if exposed to temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It can only survive temperatures under 20 degrees for a very short period and will die if left out in the snow.
Centipedegrass is best suited for small areas like playgrounds, schoolyards, or front yard gardens. It is not recommended as a lawn grass due to its lack of cold tolerance and browning in hot temperatures. It can thrive as a turfgrass for high traffic areas with good soil and regular watering, but it will need to be mowed and fertilized regularly to maintain growth and health.
Seashore Paspalum grass
Seashore paspalum is a true seashore grass that is native to the eastern coast of North America from Massachusetts south to Florida and west along the Gulf Coast into Texas. It grows in salt marshes, on tidally influenced shores, sandy beaches and dunes. Paspalum is one of the most salt tolerant grasses. It may be used as a lawn grass where water and soil conditions are suitable. It thrives from the coast inland approximately one-half mile. It is a deep-rooted, fine textured grass that grows well in sandy soils and can tolerate drought conditions better than other warm season grasses.
Seashore paspalum can be planted from seed. It germinates poorly when planted in the fall or spring, but may work if small plugs are used. Many growers use sod for planting this grass because it is quick to establish. This grass will not start growing until daytime temperatures at soil level reach 50 degrees F and nighttime temperatures remain above 45 degrees F.
The best time to plant is in the spring and fall when temperatures are cooler and the soil has moistened from winter rains. Do not plant this grass in areas where temperatures may remain below 50 degrees F for extended periods during the growing season.
The seashore paspalum can be established with a standard lawn type fertilizer at an application rate of 3 lb per 1000 square feet. Apply fertilizer when the plant is actively growing which will also help to keep down weeds. Applications of fertilizer should be reduced in the late fall when the plant is dormant. Grass that grows on dunes is usually the tallest and thickest where there are more windswept areas and sand blown into the lawn.
In order to maintain a healthy seashore paspalum lawn, avoid applying nitrogen fertilizers in early spring or fall. High amounts of nitrogen will keep the grass green and growing well into late fall or early winter, when temperatures are cooler and there is a greater chance for injury from freezes. A light spring application of fertilizer with low nitrogen content (2-1-2) in March along with an application of pre-emergent herbicides to prevent crabgrass will help to keep the lawn healthy and weed free.
In the fall a light application of fertilizer with low nitrogen content (1-0-2) along with an application of pre-emergent herbicides to prevent crabgrass will also help keep the lawn healthy. Some broadleaf herbicides are very effective at late season crabgrass control, but are not recommended for use in seashore paspalum lawns. If broadleaf herbicides are used, an application of granular pre-emergent crabgrass control is also recommended in the spring.
Seashore paspalum will tolerate moderate foot traffic, but mowing should be reduced to 1 inch with a rotary mower in the late fall to help prevent winter injury. Mowing height should be returned to normal the following spring once temperatures reach above 50 degrees F and growth resumes.
This is a popular type of grass for yards, commercial landscapes and professional golf courses. It is often mixed with other types of grass to create a cool season lawn. It does well in shady areas making it ideal for the city landscape or anywhere that receives low light during the day.
Zoysia grass is an evergreen. It comes in a fine texture which makes it look very well maintained. It has a coarse texture which means that the Zoysia grass needs to be trimmed regularly. This will help it fill in and create dense coverage. It has a high tolerance for poor soil conditions.
It can grow even in sandy or clay soils. It is a slow growing grass, meaning it will not need to be watered as often as other types of grass. It has a medium to high tolerance for drought conditions. It is not infected by many common lawn diseases including rust, brown patch, summer patch, and dollar spot. It can be susceptible to some insects such as chinch bugs and sod web worms.
The Zoysia grass needs shade during the hottest part of summer (June, July, August). It needs more water during the dry season. It has a medium tolerance for foot traffic and a high tolerance for wear.
Can you plant a new type of yard grass all at once to transform your lawn?
No. Establishing a new lawn can take up to two years or more before it becomes fully established. You should only install one type of grass at a time to avoid having to reseed later on. When you first start planting a new lawn area, you should be sure not to plant any plants shorter than the others. You should also avoid leaving a bare area no matter how small, as this can allow weeds in and make it difficult for grasses to grow.
How can you distinguish the grasses?
Grasses vary in the width of their blades and whether the tips of the blades are pointed, rounded, or boat-shaped. The arrangement of leaves in the new shoots, called spikes, can be V-shaped and folded or round and coiled.
There are many types of yard grass and lawns found in home landscaping today. This is just one of the most popular types. So you can see why it is so popular while still having such a wide selection available to homeowners just like yourself.