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Lawn Care

The Dangers of Lawn Chemicals
Grass Types in Your Lawn
Watering Your Lawn.
Grass Mowing Done Correctly
Lawn Fertilizing
Perennial Weeds in Your Lawn
Broad Leaf Weeds in Lawns
Annual Weeds such as Crabgrass
Other Problems With Lawns
A New Lawn

Types of Grasses

Before considering the type of grass you will plant, determine for what purpose you are planting that lawn. Do you want a durable grass over which your children can ride their bikes or you can practice your golf or croquet swing? Or are you looking for a more ornamental lawn whose specialty blades will complement the rest of your well-manicured garden? Grasses, which have a low wearability such as Dichondra or Red Fescue, might not be an option if you plan on hosting that garden birthday party for your child and all her young friends.

Not all grasses grow well in all types of climates. Grasses are typically divided into cool and warm season grasses. Cool season grasses grow best in northern climates with short warm seasons. Cool seasons grasses grow actively during the cooler seasons of spring and fall, and will stay green year round with proper irrigation. Warm season grasses grow best in warmer climates, particularly the southern United States. These grasses only grow actively during the warm season but go dormant and turn brown if cool weather sets in.

A final point to keep in mind before planting your next lawn is the amount of time you wish to spend on its maintenance. If you want a no-maintenance lawn you might want to reconsider having a lawn at all. Although all grasses require some sort of maintenance from applying fertilizer to mowing, some require more than others and low-maintenance types do exist if you don't care to spend every weekend behind the lawn mower.

With that in mind, now it is time to choose the type of grass for your new lawn. There is a myriad of grasses to chose from, not to mention the multitude of cultivars of each grass type. We have listed only cool-season grasses. Other types do not do well in this locale.

High Maintenance:

Durable cool season grasses that are high maintenance include Creeping Bentgrass (Agrostis palustris) and Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis). Well tended Bentgrass lawns with their fine textured, shiny, even turf, capture the ideal carpet of green so desired in a lawn. To obtain such a lawn requires an enormous amount of time in terms of feeding, watering and mowing. Bentgrass is most often used on golf courses and putting greens where full-time professional landscapers can prevent disease or thatch build up. Bentgrasses are fairly durable and hold up to the average wear and tear of most households. Certain strains of Bentgrass such as 'Pencross' and 'Emerald' are particularly tolerant of high-traffic areas.

Another rather durable cool season grass is Kentucky Bluegrass and is one of the best known grasses in terms of producing a rich, deep emerald green cover. Its legendary color is not easy to maintain, however. Kentucky Bluegrass requires large amounts of fertilizer and frequent dethatching. The grass easily succumbs to diseases such as leaf spot and summer patch. In general, Bluegrass holds up to average wear, with some strains more durable than others. Some bluegrass strains include 'Columbia', 'Glade' and 'Nugget'.

Low Maintenance

If you live in this cool season area, but prefer a low maintenance lawn, some of your choices include Hard Fescue (Festuca ovina), Tall Fescue (Festuca arundinacea), Annual Rye (Lolium multiflorum) and Turf Type Perennial (Lolium perenne). These four grass types are highly durable and ideal for lawns that will be exposed to a lot of foot traffic. Although slow to establish, Hard Fescue makes a nice solid lawn that is remarkably drought resistant. Hard Fescue requires low amounts of fertilizer and works well in shady spots. Tall Fescue is the ideal play lawn and is a popular grass for athletic fields. This grass produces coarse, broad-leaf blades that have a tendency to clump. Tall Fescue strains include 'Alta', 'Bonanza', 'Mustang' and 'Olympic'. Annual Ryegrass has low fertilizer needs, but requires a good amount of water to maintain its color. Ryegrass only lasts for one year, so it is not recommended as a permanent lawn. Ryegrass is ideal as a seasonal grass to replace those that go dormant during the winter. Ryegrass does quickly germinate and spread, but tends to form clumps rather than a seamless carpet of green. Various Ryegrass strains such as 'Derby' provide more density, while 'Premier' has a finer texture. Turf-type Perennial grass holds many of the same characteristics as Ryegrass, but lasts a bit longer and produces a more even covering.

Rough Bluegrass (Poa trivialis), Chewings Fescue (Festuca rubra), and Red Fescue (Festuca rubra rubra) are also cool season, low maintenance grasses, but none takes well to extreme wear. Rough Bluegrass is a broad leaf grass that thrives in shady, moist conditions. Feeding requirements for Rough Bluegrass are minimal, but significant irrigation is essential. This creeping grass with its shallow roots and purple tinged leaves will not survive any sort of heavy foot traffic. Chewings Fescue and Red Fescue both frequently show up in Bluegrass blends. Both Fescues require little fertilization and do not have high water needs and the Red Fescue is particularly drought resistant. The Chewings Fescue tolerates low mowing, while the Red Fescue if left unmowed creates a meadow-like look. Neither of these Fescues holds up under intense trampling.

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