Whether you're cultivating a brand-new lawn or starting over from scratch, it's important to know what type of grasses are best for the conditions and climate in your area. The following offers some information about choosing the best grass types as well as best practices for planting sod.
Know Your Environment
Before choosing your sod, you'll want to take a moment and think about where and how your lawn will be used. For instance, you'll need a tough, durable grass for environments where you anticipate high traffic. If you're more interested in having a plush lawn, a plusher grass variety is usually called for.
A soil test is also essential for knowing what kind of soil you're dealing with. Most grasses grow best on a properly aerated and nutrient-rich base with a pH level between 6 and 7.5 (that's on the acidic side). Having a soil sample taken prior to laying down sod gives you a chance to correct and fine-tune your soil before laying down the first few patches of sod.
Cool Season or Warm Season?
Grass types are usually divided into two categories: cool season grasses and warm season grasses:
- Cool season grasses perform best in colder climates – preferably in the cool and humid environs of the northeast, mid-west and northwestern regions of the U.S. These grasses can also thrive in cool and humid areas with the right irrigation. Canada bluegrass, wheatgrass, tall and fine fescue, and rye grass are typical cool season grasses.
- Warm season grasses perform best in the southern regions of the U.S., where warmer climates offer better growth and survival. Bahia grass, Bermuda grass and Centipede grass, as well as the Zoysia and St. Augustine varieties are typical warm season grasses.
Many of the above mentioned grasses also fall into the so-called "transition zone," where both cool season and warm season grasses thrive comfortably. This area stretches from as far south as northern Alabama to as far north as southern Ohio and Illinois. Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue and Zoysia grass are typical transition zone grasses
Unlike cool season grasses, warm season grasses tend to go dormant during the winter, resulting in that tell-tale brown color. If you go for a warm season grass and you want a green lawn year-round, you might want to over-seed the lawn with a heartier cool season grass that maintains its color throughout the year.
Grass Types In-Depth
Each type of grass has its own unique set of characteristics that affect how it's planted and cared for:
- Buffalo grass has a high resistance to disease and drought, plus it grows well in its native central plains. Unfortunately, it's not as durable under high-traffic conditions.
- Zoysia grass thrives in warm and humid climates, thanks in large part to its tolerance for wear and drought. It also requires little maintenance compared to other grasses.
- Kentucky bluegrass is a popular variety that offers a luscious, yet durable green.
- Centipede grass grows slowly, but it's also low-maintenance.
- St. Augustine grass offers quick root growth and a brilliant green. However, it's not an ideal grass for heavy foot traffic.
- Bermuda grass is exceptionally tolerant of high temperatures and stands up well to heavy traffic. On the other hand, it does not grow well under shade and it goes dormant (turns brown) under cold temperatures.
Other Helpful Tips
Don't forget these helpful tips as you prepare your lawn with places like California Sod Center for the road ahead:
- When estimating how much sod you'll need, it's best to go over by a small amount. After all, it's better to have a little sod left over than to come up short.
- You should plan on installing the sod as soon as it arrives on your doorstep. A quick installation prevents the sod from drying out before it's laid in place.
- Although most sods come free of disease and pests, it's important to have the right tools on hand to deal with both if and when the time comes.