If a beautiful lawn is important to you, it’s time to study up on what type of grasses thrive — and which don’t — in your region of the country. Much progress has been made developing grasses that are drought tolerant and resistant to diseases, but you still must choose according to your climate.
Consult a good gardening book or website to see a map of the United States divided into the different growing zones to help you fine tune your grass selection. Here’s a handy region-by-region breakdown.
Northeast. With brutal winters and moderate summers, the northeastern states from Ohio through New England do best with fescue or bluegrass varieties. These deep-rooted grasses are hardy through the bitter winters and hold up well in high-traffic areas.
Mid-Atlantic states. In states that have more moderate winters but challenging summer temps, Zoysia grass is a popular choice. Zoysia grows more slowly, requiring less mowing and is fairly drought tolerant. It will turn brown with the first frost of the fall.
Southeast. St. Augustine grass can provide a lush lawn with its wide blades. It requires a fairly substantial amount of water and does well in shady areas.
Southwest. In a region known for wilting hot summers and prolonged drought conditions, Bermuda is the grass that can handle these unforgiving conditions best. Bermuda’s fine bladed runners spread rapidly, but don’t do well in shade.
Plains states and Northern Rockies. When massive herds of buffalo roamed the Great Plains, a prolific grass thriving over that vast land sustained those grazing animals. Thousands of years of conditioning made the appropriately named Buffalo Grass drought and cold tolerant, but it doesn’t do well in shade. Fescues and bluegrasses also do well in this region.
Northwest. Any of the cool season grasses, such as fescue and bluegrass, will do well in the chillier climes of the Northwest.
Regardless of grass type, a professionally designed and installed irrigation system is a smart investment. It is the best way to ensure even watering and management of water usage. Each irrigation zone will direct water strategically so that the whole lawn is covered. The length of time per zone can be regulated. You’ll know the lawn has received enough water when you hear the turf squish slightly when you step on it. Too much watering can cause fungal infestation and too little will cause shallow roots.