We are rounding out our 10 Tips for a Perfect Lawn. As spring temperatures slowly begin to climb, our lawn and gardens are coming back to life. Daffodils are blooming, the Forsythia is bright yellow and Chick Weed is everywhere. Tip number 8 for a Perfect Lawn is learning the different types of grass. In the Mid Atlantic Region of the country, there are 3 main varieties of grass and a 4th variety that most homeowners do not know is even a grass.
Our goal by writing these informative blogs is to inform area homeowners and share our vast knowledge of everything in the field of landscaping to include lawns, gardens, plantings, soils, irrigation, hardscaping and pavers and power equipment. I get overwhelmed at how many readers immediately log in and read our postings. Sometimes, I feel as if they are waiting at their computer for me to post something. Either way, I am honored that you are reading this…no matter who you are, where you are reading…THANK YOU! Myself and Lundholm Landscaping are honored that you have taken your personal time to read what we have to say!
Now let’s get to the real reason that your eyes are glued to the computer. Information!!
In our area of the country, the 3 main varieties of grass are Rye Grass, Fescue and Blue Grass. The fourth variety is often mistaken for a weed and is called Bermuda Grass. Listed below are the common turf grass and a brief description of each….
Commonly referred to as Annual or Perennial Rye. Rye grass is a clumping variety and usually the first grass to green up in the spring(often called Winter Rye). Rye grass is very common in Northern Climates as its easily adapts to cold weather and rarely turns completely brown.
Annual Rye- Similar to the growing cycle of an annual flowering plant, Annual Rye Grass completes its life cycle in one year. Annual Rye germinates extremely fast(3-5 days) and has vigorous growth habits. Common applications for Annual Rye are temporary uses, temporary erosion barriers, forage for livestock, hayfields and for a quick fix while waiting for slower germinating varieties to establish themselves.
Rye grass is easily identified by taking a close look at a lawn in early spring as noticeable clumping, dark green grass plants will be evident. Rye grass is amongst the easiest to grow as it is extremely resistant to disease, drought and heavy traffic.
In my opinion, Fescue is the finest quality grass available. Fescue is hearty, has a nice color and is a matting type grass that spreads through a vigorous rhizomatic root system. There are new varieties of Fescue hybrids coming on the market on a regular basis. My personal favorites are Black Magic and Kentucky 31. Both are somewhat slow to germinate but are well worth the extra time. If sewing Black Magic or Kentucky 31, make sure your seed blend contains a fast germinating seed like Annual or Perennial Rye. Once these tougher varieties of Fescues germinate, they will muscle out the weaker Rye grasses and establish a thick healthy green carpet.
Fescue can be difficult to identify because of the numerous varieties. Tall Fescue is tall(obviously), extremely thin bladed and clumping while Turf Type or Dwaft Fescues have thick grass blades and form a thick carpet like lawn which actually chokes out weeds and has a natural resistance to insects because of naturally occurring endophytes. Tall Fescue does well in extreme heat circumstances but may need frequent reseeding do to it’s clumping growth habits(similar to Rye). Turf Type Fescues have been hybridized to the point where growth rates are extremely slow so that less frequent mowing is necessary while the grass spreads. Fescues can be planted in either sun or shade and adapt well in a variety of climates.
Kentucky Blue Grass
Kentucky Blue Grass is by far the most fickle of grasses. Most varieties go dormant and turn brown in extreme summer heat as well as winter. Blue Grass is most susceptible to disease, does not like traffic and will not grow in shade. Blue Grass requires frequent, managed watering as well as regular fertilization. If you are wondering why anyone would even want Blue Grass, check the photo above.
Although the look of a finely manicure Kentucky Blue Grass lawn is second to none, if you are not a seasoned gardener, with a south facing lawn, do not plant Kentucky Blue Grass or Install Kentucky Blue Grass Sod.
We have all seen this one. Did you even know is was an actual grass or did you think it was a weed. It takes over our lawns when it gets hot and it spreads like wildfire. It loves our sandy soil, it works its way into our planting beds, its impossible to kill(with or without chemicals) and it’s UGLY. I have spent the majority of the last 6 years trying to come up with a reasonable method to control Bermuda Grass.
Since Bermuda grass re-emerges rather late in spring, it can be managed. Bermuda Grass has a sub-surface root like rhizomatic structure that runs underground from a few inches to several feet. Bermuda Grass is very hard to pull up and the roots can be sharp and course. The only way that I have found to get rid of Bermuda Grass is to plant something more powerful that will choke it out. High quality Fescue varieties will do just that. As long as grass is thick and hearty, it will occupy the soil and not leave any room for the Bermuda Grass to establish itself. Bermuda Grass can also be managed by using a paint brush and applying Round Up directly to the Bermuda Grass blades. This is a grueling practice but if you take the time to walk your lawn on a daily basis and and paint Bermuda grass as it wakes up, you have a chance at getting rid of it. Assuming your neighbors are taking the same steps or you have a really deep border along property lines. I have done some research on a chemical called Ornamec which is a selective Herbicide. I have not tried Ornamec but am interested to see if anyone has tried it and if it works in our climate. If anyone is aware of a more effective approach, I’d love to hear it!!
If you are having trouble identifying what type of grass you have or are interesting in learning what type of grass would be best for you, contact me today and schedule your FREE 30 minute consultation(Cape May County Only).
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P.O. Box 1066
Cape May, NJ 08204