In Connecticut, we have to make the most of our scant summer months by planting cold-hardy, attractive grasses. These grasses must be both drought and moisture tolerant, due to unpredictable weather patterns and varying levels of precipitation. Grasses are divided into two categories: cool and warm season grasses. Cool season grasses can survive harsh winter weather, while warm-season grasses survive the cold months, but are only attractive during the hottest months of the year. Some types of grasses, such as bentgrasses, are favored by some gardeners but aren’t included in this list due to the difficulty in establishing them on lawns long-term. Here are seven common grass types for your lawn in Hartford, CT.

1. Kentucky Bluegrass

kentucky bluegrass grass type

Scientific name: Poa pratensis

Sunlight: Direct sunlight preferred, but can grow in partial shade

Moisture level: High levels of irrigation

Soil Requirements: Requires well-drained, moist soil

Appearance: Dark green color with medium texture and high density

Benefits: Extremely cold-tolerant and attractive

Disadvantages: Can be disease and insect-prone

Kentucky bluegrass is a high quality, sod-forming grass. It is shallow rooted, requiring great amounts of water, but is extremely cold tolerant. It spreads by rhizomes, allowing it to repair itself easily and recover rapidly from wear and compression.

2. Rough Bluegrass

Rough Stalk Bluegrass Grass Type
via Purdue Turf Tips

Scientific name: Poe trivialis

Sunlight: Shade

Moisture level: Wet

Soil Requirements: Damp soils

Appearance: Yellow-green in color with a fine texture

Benefits: Establishes rapidly and requires low amounts of fertilizer

Disadvantages: Unattractive coloring, poor drought tolerance

Rough Bluegrass is less popular for home lawn mixes, as it has poor wear tolerance and a less desirable color than Kentucky Bluegrass. It also doesn’t tolerate salt well, making it difficult to grow near areas where salt is frequently spread. However, it works well in areas not needing mowing.

3. Creeping Red Fescue

Creeping Red Fescue Grass Type
via The Dirty Gardener

Scientific name: Festuca rubra

Sunlight: Shade tolerant

Moisture level: Drought tolerant; does not tolerate wet soils

Soil Requirements: Hardy grass can live in dry, sandy, low pH and low-fertility soils

Appearance: Fine-bladed grass with a medium to dark green color, can be off-color in the summer heat

Benefits: High-density grass that has excellent shade tolerance

Disadvantages: Recuperates poorly after wear or injury

This delicate fescue has narrow, bristle-like blades with a fine texture. Although it has a luscious, verdant appearance for many months throughout the year, it is susceptible to the buildup of thatch and over-fertilization of nitrogen. Instead, it prefers infertile soils.

 

4. Tall Turf Fescue

tall fescue
via Purdue Turf Tips

Scientific name: Festuca arundinacae

Sunlight: Shade tolerant

Moisture level: Drought tolerant

Soil Requirements: Low to moderate fertility needs; needs space to grow as it is deep-rooted

Appearance: Dark green color with fine texture and thinner blades

Benefits: Excellent salt tolerance and color retention under hot conditions

Disadvantages: Susceptible to grey leaf spot disease

This fescue is a bunch-type grass that spreads easily and is highly drought tolerant. It has high wear tolerance and the ability to cover from both hot and cold weather. It manages to retain its verdant hues under the hottest conditions, but can be susceptible to injury under extremely cold conditions.

5. Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial Ryegrass

Scientific name: Lolium perenne

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade

Moisture level: Moderate moisture

Soil Requirements: Drought resistant

Appearance: Medium to dark green color with medium to fine-leaves

Benefits: Good heat and wear tolerance

Disadvantages: Can be disease-prone and does not tolerate freezing well if flooded or exposed to wind

This bunchgrass germinates quickly and establishes itself in much less time than similar grasses. It performs best in moderate weather, such as cool summers and mild winters. It is a fine performer on its own, with excellent mowing qualities and a vibrant bright green color, but tends to outcompete other grasses, making it less than ideal for a mixture.

6. Zoysia Grass

zoysia grass

Scientific name: Zoysia japonica

Sunlight: Full sun

Moisture level: Drought tolerant

Soil Requirements: Does not grow well in moist conditions or with other species

Appearance: Brown into the spring and during the fall with stiff hairs

Benefits: Excellent resistance to wear; salt-tolerant

Disadvantages: Can build up thatch and outcompete other grasses

Zoysia is the only warm-season grass that is readily grown on lawns in Connecticut. It is not a great option when grown in a mixture, as it is highly aggressive and has a brown appearance except for during the hottest months of the year. However, it is salt-tolerant and is one of the few kinds of grass that looks healthy during drought conditions.

For the most attractive and healthy-looking lawn, plant a mixture of grasses. While cool season grasses might go dormant during the hot months of summer, giving them a dead, brown appearance, heat tolerant species will thrive during these periods. In addition, pests that may attack one type of grass generally won’t go after another, allowing for optimal survival rates and a lawn that looks fresh and attractive throughout the year.

For more help with your grass types care, visit our Hartford lawn care page!

Feature image source: Oregan State University

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