What Is The Best Type Of Grass For My Pennsylvania Lawn?

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The Best Grass Types For Your Pennsylvania Lawn

In Pennsylvania and other Northeast Regions, almost all lawns will have a mix of cool season grasses. Our region in particular has harsh winters and hotter summers, so a grass seed that can withstand both is what you will need. Warm season grasses like Bermuda grass are very common in the South because they are heat tolerant, but in the Northeast, a grass type like this won’t survive the winter. When you go to buy grass seed, make sure the bag has a mix of the following: Tall Fescue, Ryegrass and Kentucky Bluegrass.

A mix is best for planting grass seed in Pennsylvania because of our sporadic weather conditions. Kentucky Bluegrass goes dormant during droughts and periods of extensive heat, while fescues and ryegrass tend to fair better. Kentucky Bluegrass is better during the colder months like April and October, while fescues and ryegrass tend to be dormant. Each grass type compliments one another. A lawn that has only one type of grass seed is more susceptible to weed takeovers during dormancy periods.

Preventing Dormancy

tall fescue, bluegrass and ryegrass in one pictureThe best way to prevent your lawn from going dormant (turning brown) is to water during times of drought, and to not cut your grass too low. Pennsylvania grasses could only be watered once a week during a drought, but make sure to really soak the ground. If the ground has become too solid and begun to crack, a deep watering is going to be needed or else the water won’t soak in properly.

Sometimes homeowners want their lawns cut below three inches in the summer, and do not realize the stress they’re putting on their lawn. Just like a shrub that has been pruned too deep, grass can be easily stressed and damaged.

Fertilizing with a nitrogen fertilizer in May is the best, but applying fertilizer during the summer is not ideal. A nitrogen based fertilizer is best reserved for May and around September. Avoid applying fertilizer to a brown patch in the summer, as the yellow spots on your lawn are most likely due to drought or disease. Fesuce, ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass all are susceptible to brown patches of dormancy, and a fungicide may need to be applied.

Kentucky bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass do not need excess fertilizer like we stated in a previous post. Applying fertilizer to a lawn with a fungus will only enable the fungus to spread.

Excessive Shade Areas

Fine fescue and tall fescue are your best options for shady areas. They have their limits though, and it’s hard to expect an area that gets less than four hours of sun will look as nice as the rest of your lawn. Plant a fescue blend in the fall after leaves have fallen off the trees around them, so they can get extra sunlight during their germination period. Water every day for at least 10 days and avoid foot traffic and mowing it.

Normal Sun (4+) Hours

close up image of zoysia grassRyegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass and Fescues are all great options for planting in sunny areas. In our opinion, avoid planting zoysia grass. The picture to the right is of zoysia. We dislike zoysia because of the early dormancy that it goes through in Pennsylvania. Around October the zoysia grass will become a light yellow/white color that makes the lawn look terrible. They are a creeping grass which allows them to overtake large amounts of the lawn with relative ease. Zoysia grass can not be striped, so if you like looking at the nice stripes on your lawn, plant a mix of Kentucky bluegrass, fescue and ryegrass.


When To Plant Grass Seed In Pennsylvania

Ideally, planting grass should be done at the end of August through the beginning of October. You may also be able to plant grass seed in the beginning of Spring, but Fall is the best time in our opinion. Have the lawn aerated before you overseed for the best results. Overseeding is when you double or triple the amount of seed that is recommended per square feet of your lawn. The best practice for overseeding in our opinion is applying the regular amount of grass seed recommended for your lawn vertically, and then applying the same amount horizontally, ensuring full coverage of the spreader. If the ground you are seeding is completely bare, make sure to pick any weeds, and to mix in some composted soil or peat moss to help the grass seed retain moisture.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us and we will gladly help!

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