Select the appropriate variety of grass

In choosing an appropriate turfgrass species, it’s important to consider the conditions where the turfgrass will grow.  Grasses should be selected based on their tolerances to the following: shade, drought, wet soil, low pH or acidic soil, low fertility, salt, and traffic.   The most common turfgrasses that are found in New Jersey are the cool season varieties.   Cool season grasses flourish in the spring and the fall and grow best with cool temperatures and adequate moisture.  In the summer months cool season grasses are under stress from the heat and will grow less and may go dormant or semi-dormant.  Some of these varieties include: Kentucky Bluegrasses, fine fescues, turf type tall fescue, and perennial ryegrasses.

Warm season grasses, on the other hand, flourish in the summer months and have a more limited growth during the cooler months.   Warm season grasses typically become dormant or brown out during the early spring or late fall. Zoysia is easy to identify because its leaves are covered with stiff hairs.  Zoysia is very invasive and is often a bone of contention between neighbors.  The most common warm season grass grown in New Jersey is Zoysia grass, however Bermuda grass can also be found.

For a more environmentally conscious approach to grass, homeowners should consider planting a low-maintenance grass such as tall fescue, which is a cool season grass. This variety is commonly used for lawns in New Jersey and in some other parts of the nation and performs well and requires less irrigation, fertilizers, and lime.  Another low-maintenance grass variety is a fine leaf fescue, another cool season grass.  This variety is perfect for shady spots, but it doesn’t tolerate wet soils and heavy foot, play, or animal traffic.


Cool season grass variety - tall fescue ~ www.dlf.com; Creeping Red Fescue ~ www.seedland.com

Here is what municipalities can do to help homeowners learn more about grass varieties:

  • Provide information to homeowners on appropriate varieties of grasses – flyers, web material, RCE Bulletin E327, etc.

  • Work with local retailers to distribute information on grass varieties.  Include information on the species, characteristics, maintenance, availability, and pictures. 

  • Ask the local Rutgers Cooperative Extension County office to provide programming on healthy lawns.


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