Make sure to plant warm-season turfgrasses in spring and cool-season turfgrasses in the fall when seeding or overseeding a lawn. You will find they germinate and develop better, because this matches up with when they are programmed to grow.
Warm-season lawn grasses form a tough, thick turf. They’re commonly used throughout southern regions because they typically thrive in heat. They often go dormant in winter—turning tan or brown in color. Common varieties include:
• Bermudagrass: Of the Cynodon genus, it’s widely used throughout the South, thriving in most soil types in full sun. It forms a coarse, robust, salt-tolerant sod. Look for newer hybrids, as they are green in color longer with improved texture and cold tolerance. USDA Zones 7–10.
• Zoysia grasses: Of the Zoysia genus, these make a lush, prickly, slow-growing turf that withstands areas of heavy traffic. Will grow in most soils in full sun but needs weekly watering in areas prone to drought. Zones 6–9.
• St. Augustine grasses: Stenotaphrum secundatum, a beautiful blue-green, coarse turf that thrives in warm, humid climates and is relatively shade-tolerant. Water when drought lasts longer than a week. Many gardeners will fertilize for a thicker sod. Zones 8–10.
• Centipede grasses: Eremochloa ophiuroides is a bright green, aggressive, thick turf that thrives in acidic soils in full shade to part sun and is relatively low-maintenance. Zones 7–8.
Cool-season grasses typically grow in the cooler seasons of spring and fall, forming a lush fine habit throughout northern regions. Although they may retain their color in the colder months of winter, in hot, dry conditions, cool-season grasses may go dormant—turning tan or brown in color. Common varieties include:
• Kentucky bluegrass: Poa pratensis, a spreading, deep green, tightly knit, fine sod that recovers nicely when injured—making it a popular choice throughout the North. Grows in most loose, well-drained soils in full sun to light shade. It is often blended with other grasses for best results. May go dormant in prolonged hot, dry conditions. Zones 2–7.
• Tall fescue: Festuca arundinacea is an opulent, dark green turf that has a deep root system—making tall fescue relatively drought and heat tolerant. It adapts to wide range of soils in full sun. Zones 2–7.
• Fine fescue: A range of Festuca species—typically creeping red, chewing fescue and hard fescue—all are typically fine, dense, dark green turfs that mix well with bluegrasses and perennial rye. Will grow successfully in most well- drained soil types in cooler areas. Relatively shade tolerant. Zones 2–7.
• Perennial rye grasses: Lolium perenne is a dark green, fast-growing grass that forms in bunches or clumps and thrives in areas with mild winters and cooler, moist summers. Will grow successfully in most soil types but does not tolerate drought or very cold conditions well. Zones 2–7.
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Learn about great plants and design ideas “down low to the ground” in Horticulture’s September/October 2012 Issue (Digital Download).
Peruse through more than 200 reliable perennial and grass choices that are beautiful, easy to maintain and provide year-round interest in Bloom’s Best Perennials and Grasses.
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Download the Garden How-To University: Proper Plant Selection & Maintenance to discover everything you need to know for choosing the perfect plants for the right spots in your garden.