- Top Five Grass Seeds for the Winter Months
- Winter Grass
- Zone 6 Grass Seed – What’s The Best Grass Seed For Zone 6 Landscapes
- Selecting Zone 6 Grass Seed
- Combat Extreme™ Southern Zone Grass Seed – Fescue & Hybrid Bluegrass Mix
- Characteristics of Combat Extreme™
- Seeding Rate & Planting Time
- Ultimate Guide to Cool Season Grasses
- What are Cool Season Grasses?
- When Should Cool Season Grasses be Used?
- What is the Transition Zone?
- Planting Cool Season Grasses
- Watering Cool Season Grass
- Types of Cool Season Grasses
- The Best Options for Australian Cool Season Grasses
- 9 questions to ask before planting grass in the spring:
- Growing Grass in the Spring
- 5 Spring Lawn Care Tips
Top Five Grass Seeds for the Winter Months
Kentucky bluegrass is one of the nicest looking lawns going around. It’s that deep green, almost blue (hence the name), soft, squishy lawn that you just want to run your hand over.
When it comes to a cool season grass for a backyard, it doesn’t get much better than this. It’s hard-wearing and traffic tolerant, which means that when you, the kids, and the pets can’t resist running around on it, it doesn’t mind at all.
Kentucky bluegrass tolerates really cold climates, like that of Tasmania and Victoria. It has no problem with shade or frost, battling through the hardest of winters. It’s also not bothered by drought, so if you’re in an area of Australia which will faces bitterly cold yet dry winters, Kentucky bluegrass will still work for you.
RTF Tall Fescue
Tall fescue grasses have always been a staple lawn variety for cooler climes. Now, clever scientists have engineered a new variety – RTF Tall Fescue – which self-repairs. Not only does this address a lot of the drawbacks of original tall fescues, but now in the right conditions it can also be a year-round lawn.
RTF Tall Fescue is resistant to frost, drought, and traffic. Over winter it will absolutely shine, giving you a beautiful lawn. If your yard provides shade over the summer months, you may find that your RTF Tall Fescue lawn stays healthy and vibrant. Too much direct sunlight, however, will not be tolerated and you may need a companion grass to keep your lawn up to standard over the hotter parts of the year.
Now, for the blends. Blends of seeds are often a sure-fire path to a thriving lawn. Each of the seeds contributes its own benefits, and where one seed might fail, the others will push through.
For cooler climates, a ryegrass blend of perennial and annual ryegrass (with a bit of fescue thrown in for good measure) will provide a great cover for your backyard or for a public space.
This blend will germinate quickly and is cheap as chips. It’s the best way to create a green space on limited time and money.
Ryegrass needs a lot of water though, so this is one for cold and wet winters.
The Parks Blend is the ultimate mix of Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue. Any lawn which will be put to the test with bitter winters and high traffic (whether that be pets, feet, or active children) will benefit from the Parks Blend.
This low-maintenance grass will withstand the harshest of winter conditions and still provide a lush, green, soft lawn for your family.
Elite Backyard Blend
The Elite Backyard Blend mixes ryegrasses and fescues to create a soft, hardy lawn which will, in most yards, stay vibrant all year round.
Any yards in the temperate areas of Australia will benefit from this blend, with its three seed types dealing with any condition it’s exposed to.
Buying a blend of seeds, such as the Elite Backyard Blend, means that you don’t have to go through the planting and establishing process for each season. It’s the ultimate for any gardening amateurs.
Plant once, and the seeds will work it out. The cool season ones will do their thing in winter, the warm season ones will come to the fore in summer, and you just get to sit back and enjoy your lawn year round without having to worry about what the weather will do to your lawn.
Grass seed can survive the winter, and planting during the winter season is known as dormant seeding. If you put down grass seed in November or December, the seed will just lay dormant until the soil starts to warm in spring. While this comes with risks, it can also be beneficial and save you time on seeding in spring.
Putting down grass seed in winter is done in much the same way as putting it down in fall or early spring. You should prepare the soil as best as possible and rake the seed into the soil. This technique works best if done at a time when snow will soon cover the ground and ideally before the ground is too frozen to work with. If snow covers the seed, it will protect the seed and keep it in a dormant state.
The risk to this method is if the weather warms up during the winter. If the weather warms enough to melt the snow it may also warm up enough for the seeds to sprout. Newly sprouted seeds are not strong enough to survive the frost. The dead seedlings will need to be cleared before new seeding can be attempted.
While dormant seeding can be risky, it can save you the process of seeding in the early spring and waiting for the ground to thaw. The seeds will start to sprout as soon as the ground warms up to a consistent 55 degrees and the soil will have all the nutrients needed to support seed growth.
Which Seed to Pick
As important as when you plant your seed is which seed you plant. At Jonathan Green we have been perfecting grass seed over 100 years. Since 1881, six generations of the Jonathan Green family have experimented with the best varietals of cool season grass to create a seed blend that is unmatched. Black Beauty grass seeds are specially formulated to be disease and drought resistant.
Black Beauty grass seed grows grass that has four-foot deep roots, much deeper than other brands. Black Beauty grass also has a waxy coating that protects each blade of grass from drought and disease. It is favored by sod growers across the U.S. for its superior color and quality.
How to Care for Your Lawn
Once the lawn has germinated, proper care is necessary to keep the grass lush and growing year-round. Jonathan Green has a proven method of lawn treatment that not only prevents weeds and feeds the grass but helps prevent disease. Our New American Lawn Care Guide has simple to follow steps to keep your grass looking fantastic.
Early Spring is the when you want to stop crabgrass before it starts and feed the grass to prepare for the spring growing season. Treat your grass with Green Up with Crabgrass Preventer. This product not only prevents new crabgrass but it will treat existing crabgrass as well.
Late Spring is the perfect time to apply Green Up Weed and Feed. This will address any weeds that may be encroaching on the lawn and give the grass the nutrients it needs through the summer growing season.
Summer is when the pH of the soil needs to be refreshed to ensure it is the right level for growing grass. For pH that is too low or too high, there is MAG-I-CAL. This special formula rapidly adjusts the pH of the soil to the correct level between 6.2. and 7.
Fall is the time for the final treatment, Winter Survival. This will feed your grass and help it fend off any disease through a hard winter.
For more tips on how to help your grass seed survive the winter and how to care for your lawn, visit Jonathan Green online or your local retailer.
News article for November 6, 2017
Lawn grasses are slowing their growth greatly. The days are getting shorter, with less sunlight and the temperatures are trying to cool down. All of this makes for slower growth on all plants and that includes our warm season lawn grasses.
Many people are interested in keeping a green lawn all year. They may have had green grass into the winter with different grass species in other regions of the country. Our warm season perennial grasses such as St. Augustine, centipede, Bermuda, carpet and zoysia will frost out and turn brown during the winter.
The desire for winter grass may be because you are just completing a construction project and need to plant grass this time of year to hold your soil in place during the winter.
The only way you can have green grass during the winter here is to plant cool season grass species such as ryegrass. There are two different types, annual and perennial. Annual ryegrass is the same type that we plant for livestock whereas perennial is what most athletic fields and golf courses use. Annual ryegrass is typically wider bladed, grows taller and is less expensive. Perennial is not perennial here and will not come back next year unless you plant it again. It is a finer texture and grows shorter and usually is considerably higher in cost. Both grasses need to be cut during winter so height is really not a huge difference.
Late October and early November are normal times for overseeding ryegrass. You want to wait for the warm season grasses to slow down and hope that a frost is getting close. (If you got up early enough you might have seen frost on the last Sunday in October, all the way to the ground around me.)
If you will be seeding over existing sod, mow the grass just before spreading seed and maybe just a little lower than normal, but do not scalp the lawn. After mowing, broadcast seed at a rate of 5-10 pounds of ryegrass seed per 1000 ft². This is a higher rate than we use for livestock pastures, but this rate will give you a denser sod that will look smooth after mowing.
Apply half of your seed going back and forth in one direction, say east and west. Then come back and apply the other half going north and south. This will give you a more even seed distribution. If you just go in one direction, any misses will be apparent and you will have to look at them all winter long, and yes your neighbors will comment.
Once you are finished broadcasting seed, it would be a help to pull a drag over the lawn to shake the seed down to the soil. You could use a riding lawnmower or ATV to pull a piece of chain link fence or a landscape timber over the lawn. You could also use a rake or lawn broom. Next, apply water for fast germination.
If all goes well, you should see small ryegrass plants that look like green hairs emerging in about a week. That will be the time to fertilize the lawn to get the ryegrass growing. Broadcast 6 pounds of 13-13-13 fertilizer or 12 pounds of 8-8-8 fertilizer per 1000 ft².
In about 6 weeks your ryegrass will start to run out of nitrogen and will start to turn yellow in color. This will be your clue to apply more fertilizer but now you only need nitrogen, not a complete fertilizer. Apply 3 pounds of the urea/ammonium sulfate blend that has the analysis of 33-0-0-12 or 2 pounds of Urea (46-0-0) per 1000 ft².
Be sure to mow your ryegrass lawn, particularly when you get to spring, so the warm season grasses can emerge normally. Ryegrass will usually fade away in the heat of May.
For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at www.lsuagcenter.com/livingston.
Zone 6 Grass Seed – What’s The Best Grass Seed For Zone 6 Landscapes
A sea of perfect green grass is often a homeowner’s dream; however, success depends upon the type of grass you choose for your landscape. Not every grass seed is adapted to the soil, lighting, drainage and fertility of individual sites. Your USDA zone also plays a role in choosing which grass will perform best. In zone 6, temperatures are mild to warm, but in winter some freezing can occur. Zone 6 grass seed has to be a variety that tolerates all this as well as your individual conditions.
Selecting Zone 6 Grass Seed
Seeding grass is a bit more work than simply purchasing sod rolls, but it is economical and almost anyone can accomplish the task. The tricks are preparing the seed bed correctly and choosing a grass variety that will thrive in your zone. The best grass seed for zone 6 will depend upon your needs. There are some better suited for shady areas, while others need full sun. Timing of sowing is another important consideration for planting grass seed in zone 6.
Zone 6 is considered a cool season grass zone even though it can have very hot summers. That means the best choice for a grass will be in the cool season group which indicates the preferred climate conditions of the plant. Cool season grasses like cold, rainy weather and are not offended by occasional freezes. They go dormant in winter and come back quickly in spring. Cold hardy grass seed in zone 6 might include:
- Buffalo Grass
- Creeping Red Fescue
- Tall Fescue
Ryegrass may either be an annual or a perennial. The others are all perennial and tolerant of zone 6 weather conditions. Some are even native, such as Buffalograss, which gives them years of adaptability to their native regions and makes them low maintenance and easy to establish.
Just because you know a grass is suitable for your zone doesn’t mean it will perform the way in which you want. Some gardeners want drought tolerant grass, as they are stingy on watering, while others want grass that can stand up to the rough and tumble of children and animals. Other stresses may be put upon the lawn such as excess heat or even salt exposure in coastal regions.
It is important to evaluate your needs and your site restrictions before selecting a cold hardy grass seed. Color, texture, density and maintenance levels are also considerations that should be vetted before opting for a certain grass seed. Other considerations are pest and disease issues. Selecting a grass seed that is resistant to certain prevalent pests or disease in your area can minimize the amount of effort expended to keep the grass healthy.
Often, the best option is a mixed seed product. For instance, Kentucky bluegrass may take some time in spring to green up but if mixed with ryegrass, the lawn turns green faster. It also germinates quickly and wears well. Mixing grass seed can also increase a lawn’s tolerance to shade, enhance texture and minimize pest and weed issues.
Hybrids are another way to harness different species’ attributes. A blend of Texas bluegrass with Kentucky bluegrass increases heat tolerance in summer while still retaining the lovely blue green color. A very common cool season grass mixture is Kentucky blue, perennial ryegrass, and fine fescue. The combination develops into a perfect lawn with tolerances to many stresses and lighting conditions.
Combat Extreme™ Southern Zone Grass Seed – Fescue & Hybrid Bluegrass Mix
Combat Extreme™ Southern Zone – is a 3-way mixture of turf type fescue and Hybrid Bluegrass which is heat and drought tolerant enough to be used in USDA Zones 8 – 10 (partial shade recommend for USDA Zone 9 and 10). This mixture is approximately 90% turf type fescue grass seed and 10% hybrid bluegrass seed by weight. By seed count, this makes almost a 50/50 blend of fescue and hybrid drought tolerant bluegrass.
The bluegrass hybrid that is in Combat Extreme™ grass seed mix is SPF 30. It is a cross between Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) and Texas bluegrass (Poa arachnifera), and it is well suited for bluegrass turf applications for improved heat and drought tolerance. SPF 30 features a low-growing, moderately dense growth habit with a medium, bright green color and a medium-fine leaf texture and offers improved shade tolerance. SPF 30 mixes well with most other cool-season grasses such fine fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrasses, and tall fescue. Because of its Texas bluegrass component, SPF 30 is well suited for areas with temperate to hot summers and more temperate winters. It is well suited to mixes with turf-type tall fescues, affording improved density and recovery from damage. SPF 30 has exhibited the following characteristics:
- Excellent heat tolerance. This grass, in fact, seems to grow better the warmer it gets in the summer. The growth and vigor of most Kentucky bluegrass varieties will generally decline under high heat (upper 80s-100s), which can reduce its traffic and wear tolerance during the hottest times of the growing season. The Texas hybrid blue grass appears to maintain more active summer growth, which translates into better traffic tolerance and ability to recover from traffic injury.
- Deep and extensive root production. These hybrids produce an extensive root system, which enhances heat and drought resistance. A dense root system will also improve traffic tolerance, ability to recover from wear, and will improve footing (traction) in a sports turf application.
- Extensive and aggressive rhizome formation. These grasses form large, extensive and aggressive rhizomes (underground stems). Different from roots, rhizomes contain growing points that produce new grass plants. Grasses that produce rhizomes are better able to tolerate traffic and will recover more quickly from traffic-induced wear – often without the need to re-seed the worn areas. An aggressive rhizome system also means better traction in a sports turf situation.
- Low mowing height tolerance. Its excellent heat tolerance and aggressive root and rhizome formation characteristics allow this grass, when necessary, to be mowed at lower heights than many Kentucky blue grasses – especially during the heat of summer. This can be important for “showcase” sports turf applications.
- Potential to require less irrigation. There is a good anecdotal field evidence to suggest that the hybrid blue grasses require less irrigation than some of the Kentucky blue grasses, and perhaps less than the turf-type tall fescues. This ability to sustain growth and vigor with less irrigation is likely due to its ability to form deeper roots than most other blue grasses, and its excellent heat tolerance.
Three Combat Blends To Optimize Varieties:
- Combat Extreme™ Northern Zone – USDA Zones 4 – 5
- Combat Extreme™ Transition Zone – USDA Zones 6 – 7
- Combat Extreme™ Southern Zone – USDA Zones 8 – 10
Each Combat Extreme™ mixture will perform well outside of the given zone. For example, there is no reason you could not use Combat Extreme™ Transition Zone in USDA Zone 8 or Combat Extreme™ Northern Zone in USDA 6. These USDA Zones are given as optimal guidelines, but not as fixed rules.
The turf type fescue varieties selected for this blend have fine to medium leaf blades which allow it to form a dense turf. SPF 30 is a very fine bladed grass and it blends in exceptionally well with our selected turf type fescues. These varieties were specifically selected for the warmer portions of the United States due to their characteristics and are grown in USDA Zones 8 – 10 (partial shade recommend for Zone 9 – 10).
Your blend will contain two fescue cultivars that are drought tolerant turf type fescues for the hot regions of the United States. Combat Extreme™ Southern Zone grass seed has improved germination which allows it to establish more quickly than other varieties and its lower growth habit significantly reduces the amount of top growth. It does extremely well in full sun or partial shade in USDA Zones 8 – 10. Combat Extreme™ grass seed has superior heat and drought tolerance and makes and excellent choice for a shade tolerant grass for the south which is something that warm season grasses can not provide. Combat Extreme™ Southern Zone grass seed an excellent choice for professional or home use. Some examples of fescues we often use are:
Rhizing Moon or Bloodhound – These are new and improved, heat and disease resistant tall fescue varieties developed for superior turf quality across a wide area of adaptation. They are both dark green, moderately fine textured varieties that exhibit excellent wear tolerance, improved turf density and resistance to Brown Patch. They quickly forms a strong dense turf because of their rhizomatous root system. They are endophyte enhanced for added disease resistance.
Rhizing Moon and or Bloodhound are recommended for permanent turf in full or partial shade on golf course roughs and low maintenance sites. it is an excellent choice for sod growers. They can be utilized in poly-species grass seed mixtures maintained at a moderate height of cut.
Chanelle – A turf type fescue grass was developed for areas with high traffic requiring low maintenance. Chanelle will maintain its superior turf quality under less than optimum conditions. It has exceptional resistance to Brown Patch disease. It is widely adapted to varying climatic conditions. Chanelle is a top choice for home lawns, parks and playing fields. Chanelle is recommended for permanent turf in full or partial shade on golf course roughs, out-of-bounds areas and low maintenance sites. It can be used in poly-specie grass seed mixtures maintained at a moderate height of cut. Can be used in dry temperate regions in addition to hot and humid regions with excellent results.
Bingo – A new and improved, heat and disease resistant, tall fescue variety developed for superior turf quality across a wide area of adaptation. Bingo is a special blue-green, moderately fine textured tall fescue with excellent wear tolerance. It exhibits a unique combination of traits including improved turf density and resistance to Brown Patch. Bingo is endophyte enhanced for added disease resistance. It is recommended for permanent turf in full or partial shade on golf course roughs, out of bounds areas, and low maintenance sites. It can be utilized in poly-specie grass seed mixtures maintained at a moderate height of cut. It can also be mixed with Ming for cool and warm season turf in transitional climates around the globe.
Roman – It is a rugged variety that performs well in a wide variety of soil types and management regimes without sacrificing turf quality. It has excellent drought performance. Roman is durable for high traffic and has good shade and cold tolerance as well.
Starfire II – This tall fescue has fine texture, vigorous growth and dark green color. It has great drought tolerance and exceptional adaptation to shade and heat. Use in lawns, playgrounds, parks or cemeteries. Drought tolerant, wear tolerant, salt tolerant.
Characteristics of Combat Extreme™
- Fills in open areas in the lawn by means of tillering
- Knits the lawn grass together
- Quickly fills in damaged or open spots with new shoots of grass
- Ability to draw its moisture from a deep profile
- Excellent drought and heat tolerant with less irrigation
- Excellent in the transition zone climate
- Ability to repair itself through tillering– repairs open areas within a lawn
- Withstands stressful weather conditions
- Holds its rich green color, even through winter’s low temperatures
- Quickly establishing grass seed
- Early spring green-up – have a greener lawn earlier in the spring then other grass varieties
- Ordinary a tall fescue grass lawn requires maintenance from over-seeding, weed problems, and clumps. Combat Extreme™ grass seed results in less over-seeding, fewer weed problems and no “wide-leafed ugly clumps” of tall fescue plants in open areas.
Blending fescue grass seed varieties together that have top performance on some of the desired characteristics allows the lawn to adapt itself to various conditions. In the shady areas, the grass seed varieties with good shade tolerance will prevail, in the high traffic areas the best wear tolerant grass seed varieties will prevail, etc. The result is a beautiful lawn grass everywhere, from the same grass seed mix. This is especially true when combined with Thermal Blue hybrid bluegrass. Thermal Blue is is extremely heat and drought tolerant as well as shade tolerant.
Combat Extreme™ fescue grass seed sets a new standard for home lawns. Not only is the Combat Extreme™ grass seed a blend of top performing seed varieties, now it has the ability to repair itself through outstanding tillering characteristics as well as requiring less water and fertilizer. That is why Combat Extreme™ grass seed is the only seed you’ll ever need! In our opinion, this is the best grass that we carry (for durability and hardiness) and the best tall fescue and bluegrass mix on the market today!
Seeding Rate & Planting Time
- New turf: Sow 6 – 8 pounds turf seed per 1,000 square feet or 240 – 320 lbs/acre for broadcast seeding
- Over-seeding: Sow 3 – 4 pounds lawn seed per 1,000 square feet or 120 – 160 lbs per acre for broadcast over-seeding
- Plant Combat Extreme™ grass seed when soil temperature reaches 55 degrees in spring up until a minimum of 6 weeks before frost in fall
Ultimate Guide to Cool Season Grasses
By Marty Ross
Wondering how you can maintain a beautiful green yard all year long? Need a grass that tolerates a bit of shade? Looking for a grass you can let go dormant in the summer to save on water usage? Cool sea-son grass may just be your perfect solution.
What are Cool Season Grasses?
Cool season grasses are grass types that grow exceptionally well in the cool weather of fall and spring. Frigid cold winters and moderate summers are no problem for these versatile grass types. These special-ized grasses provide a lush, green lawn no matter how chilly it gets.
The perfect temperature for cool season grass growth is between 65 and 80°F. When the thermometer hovers between these temperatures, cool weather grass experiences the best growth. If you live in the northern half of the United States, this is the lawn seed for you.
When Should Cool Season Grasses be Used?
Cool season grasses can be used by all gardeners who live in cool climates. The most popular types of cool season grasses are Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, fine fescue and perennial ryegrass. These grass-es are used for new lawns, overseeding troubled spots in yards and for livestock forage areas.
Even though cool season grass seed grows well during the fall and spring months, don’t plant your lawn during the spring. Planting in the fall gives the seed time to establish before the stress of the summer heat and will typically result in an overall healthier lawn with little reseeding necessary. The ideal time for cool season grass seed germination is when the soil temperature is around 55°F.
Do you live a little further south? Don’t worry. You can still find a cool weather grass for your area – es-pecially if you live in the “transition zone.”
What is the Transition Zone?
Lawn-care professionals divide the continental United States into three turf-grass regions:
- Cool Season Zone: The top half of the United States makes up this zone. Cool season grasses thrive in this area.
- Transition Zone: This zone stretches across the middle section of the country, and cool season grasses do well here, too.
- Warm Season Zone: The extreme south and southeast are known as the warm season zone. This area is suitable for warm season grasses that can better tolerate extreme heat and drought con-ditions.
If you live in the transition zone, there are options. Both cool season and warm season grasses perform well in this area. You may even find that planting a mix of cool and warm season grass seed creates that dream lawn that stays nice and green all year long.
Planting Cool Season Grasses
When you’re ready to plant, start by clearing your calendar. If you’re nurturing a new lawn, now is not a good time to take a vacation. Grass seeds must be watered daily until they germinate and the tiny plants are well established. Use a sprinkler every day to make sure your investment in seeds grows into a healthy, well-established lawn.
Spread the seed using the instructions on the bag. A simple, hand-held rotary seed spreader works well, or, if seeding large areas, a walk-behind spreader is a great investment. To use either, just fill the hopper and walk back and forth across the lawn while evenly spreading the seed. Then walk the area again per-pendicular to your first pass to create a grid across your lawn. This will provide seed coverage and help ensure the lawn grows in thick, full and lush. Don’t worry about walking on the seeded areas. Doing so will actually help establish contact with the soil for germination.
Watering Cool Season Grass
Your newly seeded area will desperately need water. Gilmour’s Adjustable Length Wind-resistant Rectangular Sprinkler provides the necessary gentle “rain” that’s perfect for your newly-growing lawn. The sprin-kler’s 20 jets cover up to 3,800 square feet, and it resists wind draft while eliminating evaporation. You won’t waste a single drop of water with this sprinkler!
The easiest way to water new cold weather grass seed is to use a timer. Set it for eight minutes – no longer. Remember, you’re not trying to water deeply at this point; you only want to moisten the seeds. Flooding them with too much water can wash the seed into clumps and create bare spots.
Water daily to provide young grass plants with consistent moisture. Sun and wind can quickly suck the moisture right out of the soil – and away from the grass. If you allow immature cool season grass to dry out or wilt, it may not recover.
Once the grass reaches a height of 3 inches, it’s time to mow. After mowing three times, you can pat yourself on the back and consider your grass established. At this point, water less frequently, but for longer amounts of time. This “deep watering” encourages roots to grow deep into the soil and creates a healthier lawn.
During the peak of the summer, cool season grass may struggle a bit with rising temperatures and dry weather conditions. To keep your grass green, establish a regular watering schedule of 1 inch of water per week, including rainfall, to maintain a gorgeous green lawn. Not sure if how much water your grass is getting? Each watering should provide moisture to a depth of 6 to 8 inches.
You may choose to conserve water and allow your cool season grass to go dormant. Dormant grass turns brown, but maintains living roots. Continue to mow your grass as needed during this time. While you’re reducing water usage, don’t completely eliminate watering. Dormant grass often needs supple-mental moisture during drought conditions. Most cool season grasses require between ½ to 1 inch of water each week to remain healthy.
Types of Cool Season Grasses
Nurseries often sell grass seed year-round, which might make it a little more difficult to decide what kind of seed is appropriate for your lawn needs. It’s a good idea to check with the local university exten-sion experts for recommendations about your specific area. Many experts recommend planting a blend of different cool season grasses for the best lawn results. Some blends are designed for specific loca-tions, such as in the shade or for high traffic areas.
Some cool season grass seeds to consider are:
- Kentucky bluegrass
- Rough bluegrass
- Fine fescue
- Tall fescue
- Creeping fescue
- Annual ryegrass
- Perennial ryegrass
It can take a bit of work to establish new grass. But with just a little investment of seed, water and time, you can have the lush, green lawn of your dreams – all year round.
The Best Options for Australian Cool Season Grasses
In Australian gardening, cold weather resistance isn’t something that many have to worry about in their plant choices. Snow is almost non-existent, and the top half of Australia only knows about frost from children’s books.
For those down south though, the ability to resist the cold is a super important feature of a good plant choice. For Tasmanians, as well as some Victorians and South Australians, ensuring your selections can last through a stiff frost is a non-negotiable.
Like the rest of your plants, your ideal grass choice will depend on the climate that you find yourself in. For simplicity’s sake, there are two main categories that you can separate grass varieties into – warm season and cool season.
While warm season are best suited to areas with temperatures around 27-30C in full sun, cool season grasses prefer temperatures nearer 16-24C, and are far more partial to shade.
Being that much of the developed world finds itself in the cool season zone of the Northern Hemisphere, there is no shortage of options for a cool season grass. So if you are in an area that experiences hard winters and are looking for types of grass that will hold up to the conditions, here are a few options that may suit.
Fine Leaf Fescue
Fine leaf fescue has the ability to thrive in shade, so if you are in an area that experiences particularly overcast conditions the growth of your lawn shouldn’t be overly affected. Along with its ability to deal with frost and snow, fine leaf fescue also has great drought and disease resistance.
A favourite of North America, in Kentucky Bluegrass you have an extremely hardy lawn that will tolerate the cold magnificently. It is a fine textured grass that grows vigorously, so be prepared to regularly mow, and to keep it in check if it starts to spread into unwanted plots. It does have a preference for full sun though, and for beachside home owners, you will have trouble growing it if you live in the salt loaded air of the ocean.
Perennial ryegrass is a medium textured grass with great cold weather tolerance. A favourite of dairy farmers, it establishes very quickly and is a particularly hardy variety. These facts means it is also a favourite of sports clubs throughout Southern Australia.
Another fescue option, this variety still has the ability to thrive in cold and shade, but provides a coarser, hardier blade that does better in areas of high traffic when compared to fine leaf. It retains fescue’s drought tolerance. The Jaguar 3 and Arid varieties are terrific options if you’re after a tough, good looking lawn.
A good tactic for ensuring success with your new turf is to choose two or even three varieties to seed with, and if one fails you will still be left with a healthy looking patch. The qualities of Perennial Ryegrass are particularly suited to this function, even if its sole use is to act as a filler grass in patches where your preferred variety is struggling.
If you’re in a cooler part of Australia, don’t fret about lack of choice when it comes to grass. While most of the continent is heaven for warm season varieties, the team at McKays have a wide range of cool season varieties, and are always on hand to provide friendly advice on the best fit for you situation.
Contact your nearest dealer to get your next lawn project rolling!
Spring is the time for lawn renewal, gardens and landscape beds. It is the time of year for visits to your local nursery or gardening store to gather new annual and perennial flowers, vegetables, shrubs and maybe even a tree or two. You also might just want to add some color back into your outdoor space after the boring and washed out colors of winter.
It is only natural that many people want to revitalize their lawn by adding new seed to help increase the density of their turf. Cool season grasses take a beating during the winter, often looking worse when they first start greening up than they do after a particular hot and dry summer. Those first few warm days that seem to cause buds to swell and the first signs of green to poke through make us anxious for the warmth of spring and summer. We want our lawns to look great again, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen – yet.
Cool-season grasses, bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue and tall fescue, take time to begin growing in the spring. Soil temperatures have to reach the 45 to 55-degree mark before growth starts to pick-up. It is also the minimum temperature for cool season grass seed to germinate. The soils take a good deal longer to warm than air temperature. In some cases, these soil temperatures may be delayed until late April or even mid-May. If seed is applied now, it could become water-logged and rot before it ever has a chance to germinate.
In order to have success planting grass in the spring, you have to be able to answer “yes” to all of these questions.
9 questions to ask before planting grass in the spring:
- Have both annual grasses and broadleaf weeds been controlled in the past and are not a current problem in your lawn?
- Have common insect and disease activity been reduced during the past year?
- Has the lawn been core aerated or other soil preparation activities taken place?
- Does the lawn have a sprinkler system that has been activated for the current year?
- If not, do you have sprinklers that can be turned on for two to three weeks, or even longer and may need to be turned on two or three times a day to ensure the seedlings will survive?
- Do you understand that the lawn will need more water throughout the summer?
- Do you understand that you cannot apply a crabgrass preventer to the area for this year?
- Do you understand that you cannot apply any broadleaf weed control to the area until after the seed has germinated and been mowed at least three times?
- Are you set to fertilize the new seed to help it grow and prosper?
If you can answer yes to all of these questions, than you can go ahead and seed this spring. If not, it is better to wait until fall to seed your lawn.
Be sure to contact your local neighborhood lawn care team at Spring-Green for all your lawn care needs.
Growing Grass in the Spring
Growing Grass in the Spring
Q: My lawn is mostly weeds. I recently removed a large bed of English Ivy that surrounded two dogwood trees and bordered the driveway. I want to plant grass seed this spring but am not sure which type. Can you give me some advice?
—Patty in Elkton, Maryland
A: Well, no one wants to hear this, but Spring is not the best time to sow the seed of a cool-season grass (the kind that stays green over the winter). Two big reasons: 1) Spring soils typically stay too cool for too long; and 2) Summer heat comes on much too fast after they finally do warm up.
It’s like going to the beach (what we in the Philadelphia area call ‘down a shore’) in July; you get broiled by the daytime sun, but the ocean can still be uncomfortably cold for swimming. (Conversely, the air temp may be a bit chilly in early September, but the ocean water is always deliciously warm.)
The seed of the cool-season grasses that people normally want to grow in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast—like bluegrass and fescue—don’t germinate until the soil temperature gets to be around 65 to 70 degrees F. (as measured four inches deep). But because Nature doesn’t like you, crabgrass and other weed seeds germinate at around 55 degrees. So by the time bluegrass or fescue gets growing, the weeds have had a month long head start.
And most of those weeds loooove hot summer weather, but bluegrass and fescue…
Not so much. The cool-season grasses we use for lawns come from parts of Europe—mainly the UK—where the weather is generally on the cool side. American summer heat can stress these grasses greatly—especially when they’re only a month or so old when it hits. So typically by the time you can get cool season seed to germinate in the North, summer heat burns it up.
But if you instead wait until the recommended timeframe to sow cool season grass seed—around mid-August through mid-September in most Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions—the seed will sprout immediately in the deliciously warm soil. Then the young grass will have a chance to ‘grow up’ in the cool above-ground conditions it loves.
Again—Northern soils are just like the ocean at the Jersey/Delaware/Maryland/New York shore; it takes a long time for them to warm up, but then they hold their heat a long time after the air temperature has begun to steadily cool. (Fun Fact: Soil and water are so closely related in fact, that people in the Chesapeake Bay region can judge their soil temperature by the temperature of the water in the nearest part of the Bay—which is easily found online.)
Back to late- August sown cool-season seed: The hours of daylight are getting rapidly shorter, the nights are getting reliably cooler, and the baby grass is growing up in perfect conditions. These grasses don’t mind winter; and then Spring is just as wonderful for them as fall. So by the time they have to face their first real summer, the grass will be almost a year old and well-established.
Cool-season lawns sown in late summer are always going to be heathier and much more sustainable than ones sown in Spring.
But you can lay cool-season sod in the Spring. Sod is much more expensive than seed, but it’s a great choice for small ‘postage-stamp’-sized areas or if you have a lawn that needs to look really good really fast—like when you’re prepping a home for sale. And Spring is when you’ll generally find the best quality sod for sale. But installation of sod is brutally hard work.
You need to remove a good amount of your existing soil to make sure that the sod level will match your existing walkways. Then you need to rough up what’s left underneath so there’s something for the roots to grow into. Then you need to level that area in preparation. Plus sod is heavy, especially in bulk. And it’s perishable—it should be installed the same day it’s delivered. So if you choose this route, I strongly suggest you pay for professional installation. (Click here for a full article on the perils and pleasures of sod.)
And we’ll take note here that Patty in Elkton also mentions that the area in question has trees. Their shade may have been the reason the lawn was poor and the ivy was there. (We’d say she may end up missing that ivy, but ivy is very hard to eradicate, and the smart money says that at least some of it is going to grow back.)
Then, when it does, she can spend the next few months really getting rid of it, and then have the surface properly prepared for seeding at the correct time of year. Although we don’t want to think about it, August isn’t really all that far away. And most people don’t budget nearly enough time for preparation. The best, long-term, sustainable lawns were carefully planned and planted.
I’d advise her to try and really finish off the ivy over the Spring, and then have some premium topsoil or compost delivered and spread to act as a seedbed. The roots of the new grass are going to need at least a little bit of decent soil to grow in before they start bouncing off tree roots.
But she also needs to be realistic about those trees; even the most shade-tolerant grass needs about four hours of sun a day. And if the area is densely shaded, she might want to consider moss instead; or a shade-loving ground cover…
Sorry. That was mean.
Okay; let’s review the options for her and the thousands of others in this situation.
First, if you live in a warm climate, you’re in luck, because warm-season grasses like Bermuda and St. Augustine should be installed in the spring—as should Buffalo grass, a warm season native grass that’s a great choice in some areas in the central plains states.
And people anywhere can install zoysia grass plugs in the Spring. Zoysia—the warm-season grass that can survive the coldest winters—makes a great lawn. You just have to be okay with it going tan and dormant from late fall to early spring.
If you can’t deal with a lawn that isn’t green most of the time, we repeat that the best quality sod is available in the Spring. But what about people who have a terrible looking lawn but can’t afford sod…?
Our resident turf grass expert Dr. Nick Christians says to just cut whatever you have at three inches high and start planning to do a really good job of installing a new lawn in August.
Research what kind of grasses best fit your situation instead of making an impulse buy at a big box store that will haunt you for years to come. Find a good source of compost and topsoil to give the seed something decent to grow in, and then start preparing the surface. For instance, repeated tilling during the dry season—typically June and July—will get rid of most of your weeds. (Just be sure and do the tilling BEFORE you spread any new soil or compost; as tilling also depletes soil nutrients.)
Then you’ll need to level the area, spread the compost and topsoil on the surface and level that out before seeding.
Do it right and this should take until August!
5 Spring Lawn Care Tips
Once you’ve cleaned and repaired your lawn, you may need to reseed parts of it that are particularly bare or brown. This can dramatically improve the appearance of your grass, but there are a few simple steps you should follow to ensure that it won’t look worse after you plant than it did before.
First try to address the soil conditions that prevented grass from growing in the past. Call your local Cooperative Extension office to find out where you can get a soil test; this will tell you what nutrients your lawn is lacking. Once you’ve corrected your soil composition, aerate the ground to avoid any problems with soil compaction.
Now you’re ready to buy seed and spread it on your lawn. Before choosing a seed, determine which varieties will work best in your region of the country and with the amount of sunlight in your yard. Then roughly estimate the size of the area where you plan to plant, as seed coverage is recommended in pounds per square foot. If you’re spreading the seed over a large area, it is best to use a broadcast spreader, but smaller areas can be seeded by hand.
Don’t ignore the grass once you’ve planted it. Water regularly to maintain soil moisture and fertilize with a slow-release, low-nitrogen product. Mow when the grass reaches 3 or 4 inches (7.6 to 10 centimeters) in height, but try not to trim off more than a half-inch (1-centimeter) as doing so could stress the plant.