4 Best Grass Types for Fort Wayne

A family plays croquet in the front lawn of a Fort Wayne, Indiana, home

Fort Wayne has a four-season climate, meaning your yard needs grass that tolerates hot, muggy summers, cold winters, and plenty of rain and snow. Our guide will help you find the best grass type for your Fort Wayne lawn.

Here are the 4 best grass types for Fort Wayne lawns:

We’ve also included below some tips to help you choose the best grass type for your Summit City lawn.

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass
Kentucky Bluegrass
Photo Credit: Ethan2039 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Kentucky bluegrass, one of the most popular grasses in the U.S., has also been called one of the best grass types for Indiana lawns.

Here’s why: This dense, blue-green lawn will come back year after year and will hold up well in a high-traffic yard. Kentucky bluegrass also grows best during spring and fall and has the best cold tolerance of the cool-season grasses, making it a good choice for Fort Wayne, where temperatures can dip into the 20s, and even below zero.

However, if your yard has a lot of shade, Kentucky bluegrass (KBG) is not for you, as it prefers full sun. It also germinates slowly, so it is often blended with seeds from faster-growing grasses such as perennial ryegrass, which germinates in as quickly as four to seven days.

And while KBG has a moderate drought tolerance, it needs more water in the summer than other grasses. 

Classification: Cool-season grass

Spreads by: Rhizomes

Shade tolerance: Low

Drought tolerance: Moderate

Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate

Maintenance needs: Moderate mowing frequency and high fertilization needs. 

Mowing height: Set mowing height between 2.5 and 3.5 inches. 

Potential for disease: Moderate to high; prone to several diseases, such as dollar spot, leaf spot, necrotic ring spot, summer patch, and stripe smut. 

Soil pH: 6-7.5

Soil type: Performs best in well-drained, heavy soils with high fertility. 

Other notes: Plant in late summer or early fall for best results.

Grass Seed Options:

Jonathan Green (11970) Blue Panther Kentucky Bluegrass Grass Seed (3 lbs.)
SeedRanch Midnight Kentucky Bluegrass Seed (5 lbs.)

Fine Fescues

Close up image of fescue grass with a hand on it
Fine Fescue
Photo Credit: Aaron J. Patton, Ph.D. / Turfgrass Extension Specialist at Purdue University

Fine fescues actually are a group of five turf grasses, and each has its own characteristics:

  • Strong creeping red fescue
  • Slender creeping red fescue
  • Chewings fescue
  • Sheep fescue
  • Hard fescue 

In northern Indiana, Purdue University suggests a blend of fescue grasses — usually hard, sheep, and the creeping reds — for lawns. Since most of the fine fescues have good shade tolerance, mixing them with sun-loving Kentucky bluegrass provides good coverage if your yard has a mix of shade and sun.

As bunch-type fescues don’t have runners to produce new plants, it’s best to overseed in the fall should the grass need repairs. 

Classification: Cool-season grass

Spreads by: Strong creeping red fescue spreads by rhizomes (as does slender creeping red fescue, though to a lesser degree), while the other three fine fescues are bunch-type grasses (chewings, hard, and sheep fescues). 

Shade tolerance: Moderate to high, depending on species

Drought tolerance: Moderate to high, depending on species

Foot traffic tolerance: Low to moderate, depending on species

Maintenance needs: Low fertilizer and mowing needs.  

Mowing height: Set mowing height between 2.5 and 4 inches, depending on species. 

Potential for disease: Moderate. Common diseases include red thread, leaf spot, dollar spot, summer patch, and powdery mildew. 

Soil pH: 6-6.5

Soil type: Will not perform well in wet soil conditions. Prefers drier soils and tolerates a wide range of soil types and fertility. 

Other notes: Overseed about 45 days before the first frost in your area. And make sure your lawn has less than a quarter-inch of thatch so that the seed can properly germinate.

Grass Seed Options:
Outsidepride Legacy Fine Fescue Grass Seed (5 lbs.)
Eretz Creeping Red Fine Fescue Seed (choose your size)
Outsidepride Creeping Red Fine Fescue Grass Seed (25 lbs.)
Outsidepride Hard Fine Fescue Grass Seed (10 lbs.)

Perennial Ryegrass

 Perennial Ryegrass
Perennial Ryegrass
Photo Credit: Dr Mary Gillham Archive Project / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Perennial ryegrass is a good choice if your lawn gets a lot of use because this grass type is characterized by dense growth, a robust root system, and the ability to recover from damage.

Perennial ryegrass grows quickly, and is often blended with slower-germinating grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass.

However, perennial ryegrass has its downsides: It goes dormant in the summer and can be stressed by temperatures in the high 80s. Perennial ryegrass also is less cold-tolerant than other grasses.

Note: If your yard is shady, one of the fescues would be a better choice, as perennial ryegrass prefers full sun. 

Classification: Cool-season grass

Spreads by: Has a bunch-type growth habit

Shade tolerance: Low

Drought tolerance: Low

Foot traffic tolerance: High

Maintenance needs: Moderate mowing and fertilization requirements. Thatch is not significant. 

Mowing height: Set mowing height to 1.5 to 2.5 inches

Potential for disease: High. Common diseases include gray leaf spot, red thread, and leaf spot/melting-out. 

Soil pH: Can grow in soils with a pH between 5 and 8, but prefers between 6 and 7. 

Soil type: Prefers good drainage and fertility, but can tolerate some poor drainage. 

Other notes: Like most cool-season grasses, seed perennial ryegrass in late summer and early fall. However, in far-northern areas, an early spring seeding is possible.

Grass Seed Options:

Outsidepride Perennial Ryegrass Seed (5 lbs.)
Eretz ProTurf Perennial Ryegrass Fine Lawn Seed (choose your size)

Tall Fescue

tall fescue
Tall Fescue
Photo Credit: Aaron J. Patton, Ph.D. / Turfgrass Extension Specialist at Purdue University

Tall fescue is a popular choice if you want a low-maintenance lawn that can take just about anything that Fort Wayne’s weather can dish out. Tall fescue greens up in midspring and maintains its color through the fall. It can tolerate heat, drought, and foot traffic, though it has moderate cold and shade tolerance.

Best of all, tall fescue grows best in the clay soil found in the Fort Wayne area.

However, tall fescue is a bunch-type grass, meaning that your yard could look uneven if you mix it with other cool-season grasses. Choose one of the improved types, which grows more densely and has a finer texture.

Note: While tall fescue is low-maintenance, it grows quickly, so be prepared to mow once a week. 

Classification: Cool-season grass

Spreads by: Produces short rhizomes but has a bunch-type growth habit

Shade tolerance: Moderate

Drought tolerance: Moderate to High

Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate

Maintenance needs: Frequent mowing. Does not produce significant thatch. 

Mowing height: Set mowing height to 2 inches when grass reaches 3 inches tall.  

Potential for disease: Tolerant of most diseases when properly maintained. 

Soil pH: 5.5-6.5

Soil type: Adapted to a wide range of soil conditions, but prefers fertile clay soils with good drainage. 

Other notes:  If overseeding in the fall, do so 45 days before the first frost in your area. 

Grass Seed Options:
Triple-Play Tall Fescue Grass Seed Blend (5000 sq ft)
Eretz Kentucky 31 K31 Tall Fescue Grass Seed (choose your size)
Pennington The Rebels Tall Fescue Grass Seed Mix (7 lb.)

How to Choose the Best Grass Type for Your Fort Wayne Lawn

So, what’s the best type of grass for your particular lawn?  Compare some of these grass characteristics to get an idea of what will work for you:

High-, Moderate-, or Low-Maintenance Grasses

Homeowners know that the work doesn’t stop once the grass seed goes down. Are you willing to handle fertilizing, irrigation, and frequent mowing? Then a high- or moderate-maintenance grass is best for you.

Want something a bit less hands-on?  Try a low-maintenance grass.

Moderate-maintenance grasses: Perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass. However, Kentucky bluegrass must be fertilized and watered more often.

Low-maintenance grasses: Either fine fescue or tall fescue. However, tall fescue needs frequent mowing. 

High-Traffic Tolerance

Do you have kids and pets? Do you host the weekly soccer game on your lawn?  Or do you only walk on the lawn to mow it?  Picking the right grass for your level of use will save you time and money in lawn repairs. 

High traffic tolerance: Perennial ryegrass

Moderate traffic tolerance: Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue

Low traffic tolerance: Fine fescues, depending on the variety

Shade Tolerance

Is your yard in full sun?  Or do you have several trees or a house that casts a large shadow across your front yard or backyard?  Choosing the right grass can make the difference between a sparse or a lush yard.

High shade tolerance: Fine fescues, depending on the variety

Moderate shade tolerance: Tall fescue

Low shade tolerance: Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass

When to Hire a Lawn Care Pro

If you’re still not sure about the type of grass to use for your Fort Wayne lawn, or you’d rather that someone else handle the maintenance work, then it’s time to hire a local LawnStarter lawn care pro. A lawn care pro can help choose the best grass for your needs and keep it in shape all season.

Main Image Credit: A family plays croquet on a Fort Wayne lawn / Bart Everson / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

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Linda Wolfla-Thomas

Linda Wolfla-Thomas

Linda Wolfla-Thomas is a writer based in the Midwest. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and reading, and is still looking for the secret to growing bell peppers.