Get to know your grass: 8 varieties that may be growing under your feet

To bring out the best in your lawn, you need to know what kind of grass — or grasses — are growing beneath your feet. Get to know some common types of grasses.

Get to know your grass: 8 varieties that may be growing under your feet

Lawns

  • Many lawns are comprised of a single species, but just as many include several species grown together to form a happy community of intertwined plants.
  • Climate is the major factor that influences the health and vigour of lawn grass, but sun, soil and rainfall also play important roles.

1. Hybrid Bermuda

Hybrid Bermuda loves hot weather, and it's a strong creeper that knits itself into tight turf.

  • It has a fine texture, and its dense growth makes it naturally weed resistant.
  • Vigorous and disease-resistant, hybrid Bermuda greens up in spring and maintains its colour up to the first frost.
  • It grows best in full sun and requires regular fertilizing and frequent mowing. It is best planted from sod, although small repairs can be made with sprigs.
  • Mow at four centimetres.

2. Common Bermuda

Common Bermuda is quick to fill out, forms a deep green lawn, grows for decades with very little maintenance and can bear up quite well under heavy traffic.

  • On the downside, it's terrifically invasive and aggressively invades flower beds and vegetable gardens.
  • It can be grown from seed.
  • Mow at five centimetres.

3. Centipede

Centipede is a lawn grass that prefers not to be pampered and is the perfect choice for a combination of sandy acidic soil, high summer humidity and mild winter temperatures.

  • Centipede grows quite slowly and won't withstand heavy traffic, but it requires less frequent mowing than other warm-season grasses, and much less fertilizer.
  • It can be grown from sod or densely planted sprigs.
  • Mow at four to five centimetres.

4. St. Augustine

St. Augustine is a favourite shade-tolerant grass in warm, high-rainfall climates.

  • It forms coarse, yet attractive, low-growing turf with a rich, dark blue-green colour.
  • While it will not take much wear, it's great beneath tall pines and its vigorous runners fill in fast.
  • A few insects can cause problems for St. Augustine.
  • This type of grass can be planted from sod or sprigs.
  • Mow at five to eight centimetres.

5. Bluegrass

Bluegrass is often the preferred lawn grass in cold northern climates.

  • Its narrow, dark green blades create a fine, uniform texture, which makes it the grass of choice on sites where it's likely to grow well.
  • Ideal sites are sunny and well drained, with deep, fertile soil.
  • Bluegrass grows vigorously in spring and stays lush and green through summer and fall in regions where nights cool off.
  • On the downside, bluegrass is susceptible to several diseases and needs extra water if dry spells last longer than a week.
  • Bluegrass can be planted from seed or sod.
  • Its ideal mowing height is six to eight centimetres.

6. Perennial ryegrass and fine fescue

Perennial ryegrass and fine fescue are often combined with bluegrass in what are called cool-season blends for cold-climate lawns that receive partial shade.

  • The resulting turf tolerates shade and foot traffic better than an all-bluegrass lawn, and the mixture cuts the risk of damage from pests and diseases.
  • Cool-season blends can be planted from seed or sod.
  • Mow at six to eight centimetres.

7. Turf-type tall fescue

Turf-type tall fescue adapts well to both winter cold and summer heat in the Atlantic regions, and it grows well in light shade.

  • Tall fescue does not creep like most other lawn grasses, but close spacing forces the plants to become thin and upright.
  • Also, this fescue has remarkably deep roots, so it grows well in a variety of soil types and needs less nitrogen than other cool-season grasses.
  • In many sites, the limits of tall fescue can be overcome by combining it with small amounts of other grasses, such as fine fescue, which grows well in shade, and perennial ryegrass, which tolerates foot traffic.
  • All are usually planted from seed.
  • Mow high, at about eight centimetres.

8. Buffalograss

Buffalograss is a North American native that is now available in improved strains. And because it is a native, it often thrives in conditions too extreme for other lawn grasses, notably where summers are hot and dry.

  • It tolerates cold, and alkaline soil.
  • Buffalograss has a fine texture, gray-green colour and rarely needs water once it is established. This same drought resistance makes buffalograss a misfit in climates with more than 75 centimetres of rainfall per year, since it can't compete well with weeds.
  • Buffalograss spreads by runners, but is a strong, upright grower.
  • A close cut can cause serious damage, so it must be mowed high, at 10 centimetres.
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