Common Grass Types in Richmond, VA
Because Richmond, VA lies within the transition zone, both warm-season and cool-season grasses can be planted here. What the transition zone means to you and your lawn is that our cold winters and hot, dry summers don’t allow for the easiest choices in choosing a type of grass for your lawn in most of the state. However, Richmond’s location makes it the easiest in the state to accommodate for both warm-season and cool-season grass types.
Richmond, VA is located in the between Virginia’s coastal plains and the Piedmont. The open waters of Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the mountain barrier to the west are responsible for the region’s warm, humid summers and generally mild winters. The area gets a fairly uniform amount of precipitation throughout the year, dry spells being most common during the fall season.
Grass basically falls into two categories; warm-season and cool-season grasses. From there, they split into a few common types of grasses that then branch off into hundreds of different blends and cultivars. This post considers the strengths and weaknesses of the different common grass types in hopes that it helps you, the homeowner, into making an educated decision for your lawn.
Cool-season grasses thrive in temperatures between 60 – 75 degrees fahrenheit and the highest growth rates in the early spring to early summer, and in the late summer to early winter. Growth is typically stunted during the summer months because of climbing temperatures and possibilities of drought. These types of grasses do their best work in the hill and valley regions of the southwest, the Shenandoah Valley, and northern Virginia. Establishing cool-season grasses in the spring is possible, but the best time to establish your lawn is in the fall.
Tall fescue is the most common grass in all of the state but tends to struggle extreme summer temperatures in the southern Piedmont and Tidewater regions. But is still considered to be the hardiest and best adapted grass in the state. There are a myriad of different blends and cultivars that are selected for features like finer leaf density or higher plant density. Out of all the cool-season grasses tall fescue has the deepest root system, allowing it to dig deeper into the soil which helps its drought tolerance. Tall fescue performs best in full sun to moderate shade. Consider tall fescue if you are a homeowner looking for a low to moderate maintenance lawn.
Mowing height: 2 to 3 inches.
Kentucky bluegrass is known amongst lawn care professionals for providing some of the most beautiful lawns in the region due to its dark green color and fine to medium leaf blades. It needs to be in full sun in order to thrive and is fairly sensitive. Diseases that Kentucky bluegrass is commonly susceptible to includes dollar spot, red thread, and rust. This grass tends to grow aggressively and because its growth stems from rhizomes it can produce a substantial amount of thatch build up. There are plenty of new releases of Kentucky bluegrass that are hybrid grasses consisting of a blend of both Kentucky and Texas bluegrass that stand up to heat much better than traditional Kentucky bluegrass. Consider this type of grass if you are open to committing to a moderate to high maintenance lawn.
Mowing height: 1.5 to 2.5 inches.
Perennial ryegrass is a clustered grass that grows best in full sun to moderately shaded areas and higher elevations. Mature perennial ryegrass may have superb traffic tolerance but doesn’t fair well to heat and drought, and is typically at significant risk to disease in warmer climates. It’s one of the fasting germinating seeds out of cool-season grasses in the area and also establishes a dense canopy just as quick. Probably the most sought after feature of this grass type is its striping potential when it’s mowed. Consider this grass if you’re a homeowner on the western spectrum of Richmond.
Mowing height: 1 to 2.5 inches.
Warm-season grasses prefer temperatures between 80 – 95 degrees fahrenheit and have a winter dormancy period of 3 to 5 months depending on where you’re located in the state. In Richmond the number is typically closer to 3 months. Compared to cool-season grasses, warm-season grasses have fewer pest problems, better water efficiency rates, and are better suited to the summer season. The best time to establish a warm-season lawn around the state is mid-May through June.
Bermudagrass is considered by lawn care professionals to be both an awesome grass for lawns and one of the world’s most aggressive weeds. Bermudagrass grows so fast because its growth stems from both stolons and rhizomes. Meaning, that it propagates by both underground and above ground. It grows the healthiest when it’s in full-sun and has tremendously poor shade tolerance. This is a wildly popular grass in the South because of it’s growing habits, however it is a grass that will need to be mowed once a week.
Mowing height: 0.5 to 2.5 inches.
Zoysiagrass is the most cold-hardy out of the warm-season grasses and isn’t likely to be damaged by a severe winter. Compared to bermudagrass, zoysiagrass is an extremely slow grower. Though not as drought tolerant as bermudagrass, it has fewer pest problems and exceeds cool-season grasses in water efficiency rates. It’s shade tolerance is fairly average. Another thing to note is that zoysiagrass requires a very sharp blade to get a high quality, clean cut due to the density and texture. Consider this grass if you’re looking for a low maintenance lawn that also doesn’t need a whole lot of water.
Mowing height: 1 to 2.5 inches.
St. Augustinegrass growing habits are very fast paced and is really only well adapted to the Tidewater region in the state. So, it will do just fine in Richmond. It’s a high density turf that is rapid spreading, but compared to the other warm-season grasses is more subject to have problems with insects and disease. Most lawn care professionals agree that it also has the poorest cold tolerance out of this entire list, however there are plenty of homeowners that will testify that their St. Augustinegrass lawns haven’t been wiped out by a severe winter. Consider this grass if you’re looking for an easy to repair, low maintenance lawn that will require some special attention to insect and disease control.
Mowing height: 2 to 3 inches.
That wraps up our grass guide. Have questions about grass types or lawn care in Richmond, VA? Leave your questions in the comments below.