Use these 3 care-free grasses for the perfect lawn

There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a grass, from climate and temperature to the alkalinity or acidity of your soil. We'll cover 3 of the most robust grasses around and explain their characteristics and benefits.

Use these 3 care-free grasses for the perfect lawn

1. Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea)

  • Tall fescue is a very hard-wearing, care-free grass, making it a good choice for gardens where young children will be playing.
  • It features unusually deep roots, so it tolerates summer heat and drought better than many other species.
  • This tuft-forming grass gets its coarse texture from thousands of individual plants growing side by side, which also means it withstands heavy traffic. It has a wide blade that accounts for its somewhat rough and coarse appearance close up.
  • It's a light feeder, so you can fertilize as usual in the fall and lightly or not at all in the spring.
  • Irrigating during droughts in summer will help keep it from browning too badly, but expect this grass to appear somewhat ragged in the hottest part of summer.
  • Look for newer tall fescue varieties such as 'Apache,' 'Falcon,' and 'Rebel II.'
  • Mow to a height of 10 centimetres (four inches), which helps increase the grass's tolerance to heat.
  • Tall fescues make good lawns in Zone 4 and warmer.

2. Blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis)

  • Blue grama grass is becoming more and more common, especially where summer droughts are frequent. Although it may go dormant during prolonged periods of drought, it recovers quickly. And since its roots can go down 2.5 metres (9 feet), it can withstand moderate periods of drought without going dormant at all.
  • It prefers neutral to alkaline soils and will also thrive on slightly saline ones where other grasses won't grow.
  • Hardy to Zone 3, it will grow on a wide range of soils, from sandy to moderately clayey, provided they aren't acidic.
  • In most climates, this grass is sod-forming. It fills in empty spots and forms a tight, well-rooted web. It also has a fine texture and needs watering only until established.
  • This grass grows 30 to 45 centimetres (12 to 18 inches) tall, but may reach only 15 centimetres (six inches) if rainfall is sparse.
  • Blue grama grass is a good candidate for a wildflower meadow where its attractive seed-heads add to the autumn scene. In the garden, once established, it can be cut to eight centimetres (three inches) and should be given a light feed in early summer.
  • This grass is best grown from seed sown while the soil is still warm in fall.

3. Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides)

  • Because it tolerates climate and soil extremes, Buffalo grass is a natural choice for western lawns.
  • A sod-forming grass with excellent tolerance to cold (Zone 3), buffalo grass excels in dry, neutral to alkaline soil where other lawn grasses fail. It has a fine texture, needs water only until it becomes established, and it grows slowly and remains short, requiring infrequent mowing. You can sometimes get by with mowing it only once or twice a season.
  • The species has prickly seed heads, but newer varieties produce few of these, which are easily controlled through routine mowing. In addition, improved varieties such as 'Prairie' creep a little after becoming mature clumps. These varieties can be grown from either sod or plugs planted from mid-spring to early summer.
  • Buffalo grass needs only one light feeding in early summer and should be cut to a height of six to eight centimetres (2.5 to three inches).

Use this guide to find the right grass for you and you'll end up with a lawn that's low maintenance but highly gorgeous.

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