Regional impact on grass growth
Where you are geographically in the U.S. affects what grass will grow best. While there is no area in the U.S. where temperatures are perfectly consistent, grass is generally categorized into cool-season grass and warm-season grass.
Cool-season grass (or creeping grass) spreads out from the crown of the plant and the shoots develop nodes underground (called rhizomes).
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Warm-season grass (or brush grass) spreads from the crown of the plant. Homeowners should mow the lawn at a higher level to protect this crown. Because warm-season grass turns brown in the winter, you can overseed with ryegrass in the winter, and it will die off in the summer.
If you live in the Northern, Northeastern, or Pacific Northwest regions (or where the climate fluctuates), you’ll want to consider cool-season grass. Cool-season grass grows best within the 60°F to 75°F range, and includes:
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- Kentucky bluegrass (KBG)—The most popular and common cool-season grass, KBG establishes its roots quicker than most types of grasses under the right conditions. You’ll likely see sprouts soon after planting the seeds. KBG has a short germination time (about 14-30 days), and grows aggressively from the seed stage, which makes it resilient if your lawn is damaged. Its growth slows down if it’s warm or hot, and it will need more watering in higher temperatures. Since it can handle foot traffic, you’ll often find KBG used in golf courses and athletic fields. KBG can be mixed with perennial ryegrass.
- Fine fescue—A fairly low-maintenance grass, fine fescue is shade tolerant, heat and drought resistant, and eco-friendly because it does not require as much moisture and fertilizer as other types of grasses. Seeds of fine fescue germinate faster than KBG (about 7-14 days), establish quickly, and grow in bunches. They are often characterized as having the finest blades.
- Tall fescue—Like its sibling, fine fescue, tall fescue germinates quickly (about 4-14 days) and establishes easily. Tall fescue grows in bunches, grows well in the shade, and is resistant to heat and drought.
- Red fescue—Often used on turfs or in public places such as parks and fields, this grass does well in shaded areas, but also thrives in the sun when watered correctly. Low to moderate foot traffic is best for this type. Fescue seeds can take 10-14 days to grow.
- Perennial ryegrass—While not as aggressive a grower as KBG, perennial ryegrass germinates quickly (about 5-10 days) and establishes well, but it spreads slower. It grows in bunches, with growth peaking in cool and moderate months, and needs water and fertilizer maintenance in order to keep its color.
- Annual ryegrass—Annual ryegrass is often used to overseed warm-season grasses to provide cover to lawns during the winter. This grass is often a temporary solution and is not normally used as turf.
- Bentgrass—Known more as a specialty grass that is difficult to maintain, bentgrass is not often used for home lawns. Creeping bentgrass is a popular variation, but because it grows aggressively, it competes with the nutrients more desirable kinds of grass need. Creeping bentgrass is sometimes considered a weed.