by Tony Allen
As most homeowners know, planting grass seed is not entirely straightforward because not all grass seed is alike. There are ways to determine the best type of seed when planting grass seed for your particular lawn.
Once you’ve planted the best growing seed for your area and soil, you can then identify the best type of lawn tractor to suit your lawn’s specific needs.
Planting grass seed: what do you need to know?
When choosing the best-growing grass seedfor your area, there are several factors to consider:
- Determine your regional growth patterns and cycles, as well as your climate type. There are two basic categories of lawn grass, cool season grasses and warm season. Just as the name implies, cool season grass grows particularly well in cool temperature climates. Likewise, warm season grass thrives in warm and hot climates. Once you identify your regional climate type, you can select between these two types of grasses.
- Determine the level of maintenance you want to put into your lawn. It’s important to consider the pros and cons of each grass type. For instance, cool season grass often needs more water during warmer temperatures, so you’ll have to be out with the garden hose more often during the spring and summer. Likewise, warm season grass is not as tolerant of cold temperatures, and will generally turn brown and go dormant during cold spells.
- Try to find a happy medium. Horticulturalists use the term “transition zone” to indicate areas with hot summers and cold winters. In these regions, it’s a toss-up as to whether or not you want to go with a cool season grass or warm season grass. The best advice is to consider the longest season and go from there. In addition, keeping your lawn well-fed and watered, as well as sown and re-seeded from time to time, will help your grass thrive through less-than-optimum temperatures.
The different types of grasses
Certain types of lawn grass are considered to be either warm season or cool season.
Warm season grasses
Among warm season grasses, these are some of the most popular:
- Zoysia grass: Zoysia grass is a particularly durable grass that can be walked on without much damage. In addition, it thrives in a wide range of soil types. However, it does require some watering and draining so it doesn’t go dormant.
- Buffalo grass: This type is particularly popular with homeowners who don’t want to put a lot of time into lawn maintenance, because Buffalo grass doesn’t need to be watered as often as other types, even in drought conditions. However, it isn’t as durable when it comes to foot traffic. While it does well in several different soils, Buffalo grass particularly thrives in sand and clay.
- Bermuda grass: This is a popular type of grass because it doesn’t require much maintenance and watering, and it thrives in a wide variety of soils. However, it doesn’t tolerate cold temperatures very well, and it does need to have a great deal of direct sunlight in order to grow and remain healthy.
Cool season grasses
Cool season grasses include the following:
- Perennial ryegrass: This is not only fast-growing, but also durable for foot traffic and can grow even in shady areas. However, it does need to be watered much during the spring and summer. Perennial ryegrass requires a rich type of soil.
- Tall fescue: This type of grass doesn’t need to be watered as often, and thrives even through drought conditions; it also tolerates shade. While it’s a slower-growing lawn alternative, it doesn’t require much maintenance and prefers sandy and clay soils.
- Fine fescue: Fine fescue is actually a term that includes different types of fescue grasses, including chewing, hard, red and sheep. These all thrive in shaded areas and don’t require much watering or maintenance. They are durable as well.
- Kentucky bluegrass: Kentucky bluegrass creates a particularly beautiful and durable lawn, provided it is planted in rich soil. This type of grass can thrive in shady areas as well. Kentucky bluegrass requires frequent watering during the summer or it will quickly go dormant.
Mowing your lawn
Once you choose the type of grass that best suits your soil and climate and finished the job of planting the grass seed, you can concentrate on finding the best lawn tractor or mower that will not only make your job as easier, it will also be the most efficient way of maintaining your lawn.
There are two basic types of lawn mowers: rotary mowers, which have blades spinning horizontally so that they’re parallel to the ground, and reel mowers, which have blades spinning vertically, or perpendicular, to the ground.
There are there are several factors you should consider when choosing the perfect mower or lawn tractor deck for your grass type:
- Match the blades to the grass length. Reel mowers are particularly good at cutting grass very short; that’s why this type of mower is generally used for golf courses. Some fast-growing grasses, such as Bermuda grass, should be cut very short. Using a seven-blade reel type lawn mower works particularly well with grasses such as Bermuda, because the horizontal blades can quickly cut these grasses to their optimum height of less than an inch.
- Determine the height your grass should be. Fescue grasses and Kentucky bluegrasses look their best at heights of two or three inches, so you can use a rotary mower or standard lawn tractor cutting deck to great effect on these grasses.
As a rule of thumb, it helps to remember that tall grasses respond well to rotary blades, while reel blades do better with short grasses, meaning those that are less than two inches high.
However, most models of lawn tractors are made to handle nearly any grass type, so unless you are looking for the golf or bowling green finish you should find that most lawn tractor mower decks will perform on your particular lawn.
- Read our piece on spring lawn care tips
- Choosing lawn grasses from Cornell University
- Return from this planting grass seed page to lawn tractor reviews – the home page
- return to the main lawn care tips page