When we take a look at our lawns, what are we actually looking at? There are many varieties of grasses out there, but only some are suited for our environment and variable weather.
Which Grass is Greener?
Typically, in our region, Kentucky Bluegrass is the dominant species and by far the most popularly used variety of turf. It is probably the best type of grass (especially when mixed with some perennial rye and fescue) for our diverse climate, with our distinct seasons, however, it is not without a few drawbacks as well.
Perennial rye is a common grass in Ontario. It germinates quickly (7 days), is disease-resistant, and is a deep green colour. All across the world, it can be found on lawns, sports fields, and golf courses.
While bluegrass thrives in cool weather and will tolerate very cold winters, it is not very drought resistant and doesn’t grow well in the shade. In other words, it must be watered regularly in hot, dry weather or it will go dormant and is slow to recover (“green-up”) after moisture returns. Overall, the best garden turf will be a blend of Kentucky Bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescue grasses in Ontario, but what are the other options out there?
Types of Grass
Fine Fescue is an excellent cool season grass, with rapid germination and vigorous growth of the finest blades. It tolerates hot and cold temperatures, and can be used in areas with wild fluctuations of temperature. Fine Fescue has very good drought tolerance, and will quickly “green-up” again when moisture returns after drought dormancy. This variety requires less water than bluegrass, but doesn’t handle the wear & tear of summer activity as well.
Ryegrass is another variety of turf that is adapted to both cool and warm temperatures, but will go dormant easier in hot, dry weather. It’s tolerance to shade and slow growth makes it a better choice for some areas, but needs more watering than most turf grasses to thrive.
Tall Fescue has a deeper root system than the other varieties and therefore is much more drought-tolerant and requires less watering. It is good for “transitional” zones that have moderately cold winters and warm summers, and also has some resistance to shade, but is somewhat less dense than Kentucky Bluegrass.
Creeping Bentgrass is the most common choice for golf greens around the world, but is being introduced more and more on residential properties each year. Who wouldn’t want this bright green colour and golf green texture for their own lawn! This type of grass thrives in cool, wet weather (think Vancouver), but can struggle in the heat & humidity without increased maintenance. That beautiful carpet of green requires more frequent and much lower mowing, along with specialized equipment, but many feel it is worth the extra effort.
Before seeding or sodding your lawn, you should think about what the best options may be for your specific location. The amount of shade, access to water, and the expected wear & tear it may encounter are all considerations, and must be weighed carefully to select the best type of turfgrass for your needs. For more information on creating your new lawn, click here to check out Landscape Ontario’s recommendations.