Choosing the Right Turfgrass

It’s nearing the end of summer, and, for turfgrass specialists, that means turf season is about to start. Some landscapers may already be laying down cool-season turfgrasses like fescue and Kentucky bluegrass. If you are planning on growing grass this season, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of various grass types in order to best access your options.

When it comes to picking turfgrass, homeowners typically want a variety with durability and year-long aesthetic appeal. Virginia’s hot summers and cold winters make it a particularly tricky climate for maintaining grass growth, especially when it comes to warm weather grasses like Bermuda and zoysia. Cool weather grasses are more commonly recommended by turf experts. Unlike warm weather grasses, cool weather grasses do not become wilted and brown as soon as the first frost hits. With proper maintenance, they can retain their green hue all year long. Here are a few cool weather grasses to consider:

Tall Fescue: Tall fescue is one of the most common turfgrasses in Virginia. It has a sturdy, deep root system that helps it stay hydrated during droughts, and it can withstand a variety of soil conditions. Generally, lawn-owners that are looking for a low-maintenance grass type will enjoy the ease of tall fescue.

Kentucky Bluegrass: When it comes to aesthetic appeal, few turfgrasses come close to Kentucky bluegrass. Known for its signature dark green color, Kentucky bluegrass is beautiful and testy. It needs to be regularly fertilized and deeply watered to keep away common grass diseases like dollar spot and red thread. This grass is also known for its creeping growth habits, which can become a nuisance to lawn-owners. Seeds take anywhere from 14-21 days to germinate, so spring planting is usually more successful than fall planting. Many turfgrass professionals install mixes of fescue and bluegrass for home-owners that want flare without added trouble.

Fine-Leaf Fescue: This fescue variety has thin, needle-like leaves that people tend to love or hate. If you can tolerate its thin leaves, you’ll find that fine-leaf fescue is a low maintenance and durable alternative to tall fescue. It thrives even in low-fertility soil and doesn’t require as much mowing as other varieties. However, it does not prefer a lot of traffic or consistently wet ground, so be weary if you walk or sit in your lawn frequently. Fine-leaf fescue is particularly tolerant of the shade, and thus works well for homeowners with shady yards.

Perennial Ryegrass:  Perennial ryegrass is a particularly good option for cool, mountainous regions. It requires little maintenance and can withstand a lot of ware and tear, although it is not very drought resistant and has been known to become susceptible to disease. Turfgrass professionals do not usually use ryegrass on its own; rather, they mix it with Kentucky bluegrass for a more durable lawn covering.

For more helpful tips and information about turfgrass, check out our website:


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