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Choosing the right grasses

by The Dream Lawn (Mantis)

As you consider planting your lawn, take time to evaluate your yard, your climate, and your own lawn needs.

To start with, there are annual grasses and perennial grasses, grasses with fine blades or coarse blades, grasses for sun and grasses for shade, cool-season grasses, and warm-season grasses.

Cool-season grasses thrive in the higher elevations of the South, the cooler coastal areas of the West Coast, and nearly all over the Northern, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwestern states. They grow vigorously during spring and fall and grow slowly (or go dormant) in the summer. With adequate watering, they remain green all year and survive cold winters.

Warm-season grasses thrive where summers are hot and winters mild. They make active growth during the hot months and go dormant, often turning brown, in fall and winter. If you're not sure what kinds of grass grow best in your region, ask at a local garden center or call your County Extension Agent.

Within the two broad categories, several factors determine the variety of grass you'll need: whether the lawn is in sun or shade, how much rainfall you get during the growing season, and how much wear and tear the lawn will receive from family and pets. Does your yard get all-day sun in front but shade from trees in back? Do your children frequently play in the backyard while the front lawn sees very little foot traffic? Consider planting different grasses or mixtures appropriate to each area.

Most grasses require at least six hours of sunlight each day. Sun-loving grasses send roots deep down to reach and hold moisture, and they have blades capable of retaining water for longer periods. Grasses for partly shaded areas have the ability to fight off mold and moss. Grasses for dry areas thrive in climates with little rainfall and porous soils, while wet-area grasses can handle constant moisture or occasional flooding; they are resistant to mold and fungus.

Before you begin, take time to honestly evaluate your yard in terms of sun and shade, trees, drainage, and foot traffic. Once you determine your needs, you can proceeds to the next step: selecting the appropriate grass.

Copyright © 2008 LAF/C.R.S., Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission
from The Dream Lawn, © 1996 Mantis, 1028 Street Road, Southampton, PA 18966.

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