Missouri Regional Grasses
Having a lush, green lawn can be a challenge here in the Midwest. Knowing the best types of grass seed to use can play a major role in achieving this goal. Lawns can be quite energy consuming depending upon the amount of fertilizer, seed, water, mowing, and pest control they need. Ultimately, we want to take away the guesswork spent in all your efforts to keep your lawn growing strong and healthy.
There are two types of grasses used in different regions: cool grasses and warm grass. Amongst the cool season grasses, the most common are bluegrass, fescue, bentgrass and ryegrass. The warm season grasses include zoysia, bermudagrass, St. Augustine, centipedegrass and buffalograss:
Bluegrass is a very common grass planted widely in the northern sections of the U.S. where the summers are cool. It is adapted to a wide range of climate conditions and performs best in open, sunny areas while receiving medium to high fertilization amounts in the spring and fall.
Fescue – including tall, chewing, red and hard fescue. Tall fescue is a coarse textured grass, tolerant to a wide variation of environmental conditions. It has a bunch-type growth habit that causes it to appear clumped and upright. It does best in regions with mild winters and warm summers and is the preferred cool season grass for the transition-zone area. An extensive, deep root system makes tall fescue a good choice for drought-prone sites.
Bentgrass is more commonly used for golf greens and tees. Bentgrass can be used for residential lawns in cool, northern regions however, is not recommended because of its high-maintenance requirement.
Ryegrass is more commonly used in warm climates as a winter cover when warm season grasses go dormant. Because it germinates rapidly, annual ryegrass is often used where a fast cover is needed. Some areas include slopes or moist areas where other grasses are not quick to develop. Perennial ryegrass is a darker green color compared to annual ryegrass and has the best wear tolerance of all cool season grasses. It is intolerant to heat, cold, and drought, and does best in cool climates.
Bermudagrass is a warm season grass with a high growth rate. It is fairly drought tolerant, but will do better if watered in mid-summer. Bermudagrass can spread aggressively through rhizomes to fill in bare spots. Frequent watering will insure establishment and rooting from the stolons.
St. Augustine grass is very coarse-textured, but fast growing. St. Augustine grass is the most shade tolerant of the warm season grasses and is adapted to moist, areas with mild winters. It can spread quickly by stolons and requires frequent watering. St. Augustine grass keeps its green color at lower temperatures but will become off-color when cooler temperatures occur.
Zoysia grass is a commonly planted as a warm season grass or in hot areas of the US. It can withstand extreme heat and shaded areas. Its dense growth habit is created by an underground network of rhizomes and stolons. Zoysia can be very aggressive in full sun situations and can overtake cool season grasses. It is considered to be a low maintenance grass.
Because St. Louis has cold winters and hot, humid summers, this puts us in the “transition zone”. This mixture of climate extremes allows us to use either cool season or warm season grasses. The most common are tall fescues and zoysia grasses. Tall fescues green-up early in spring and stay green well into fall. They are tolerant of the cold while going dormant during the summer. Zoysia, on the other hand, thrives in the summer heat and humidity and goes dormant during winter. Overall, it’s a winning combination for green, healthy looking grass throughout the season.