Visiting the grass-seed aisle of a well-stocked home and garden store can make anyone seriously consider the benefits of an asphalt lawn. Should you consider a cool-season seed or a warm-season one? Shade, partial shade, sun? Annual, perennial, low-mow, drought-proof, heat-proof, weed-proof? Too many decisions! Whether you’re starting a new lawn from scratch or trying to improve your existing one by over-seeding, you probably just want a soft, green, easy-to-maintain, vibrant lawn. Is that so much to ask?
Why You Should Use a Mix
There are a lot of reasons to love Philadelphia. We have the world-famous Philly cheesesteak, for instance, and who doesn’t love our sports teams? But unless you’re a glutton for punishment, our sometimes extreme weather is not usually one of them. In the summer it can feel as hot and muggy as the deep South, and in the winter, especially the last few years, we might as well live in Canada. So, unfortunately, there is not one grass seed that you can use for your Philadelphia landscaping adventures that will stand up to all conditions, all year round. However, when you plant a variety of different grasses together, some will be at their best while others might be struggling. That way, you can keep a nice green lawn no matter what Mother Nature throws at us.
Kentucky Bluegrass: The Classic
Because of our relatively cold winters, most warm-season grasses don’t work well here. The one exception, Zoysia grass, is best grown from plugs rather than seeds. Kentucky bluegrass should be the base seed for any mixture used here in Philly: it’s the ideal grass for in the Mid-Atlantic region. It’s a nice-looking, thick-growing grass that works well in a variety of conditions. It’s also ideal for backyards that experience a lot of use: it grows back well after damage. However, it’s not happy in the shade or in hot conditions. For this reason, you should choose a different grass if your lawn is entirely shady, or include other grasses in your bluegrass mix if your lawn has areas of shade and sun.
Fescues – and there are several varieties – are the work horses of lawn grass. Though fescue is not considered as attractive as bluegrass, it doesn’t mind some shade, or even complete shade. Some shady lawns are 100% fescue, though it makes sense to use a mix of different fescue varieties to combat diseases and pests. If your lawn has shady areas, include a larger percentage of fescue relative to your bluegrass.
Ryegrass: The LeSean McCoy of Grass
Most grass seed mixes contain some ryegrass, because, like our favorite Eagles running-back, ryegrass is fast. It’ll get started right away and make conditions ideal for the rest of your team of grass seeds. Ryegrass will shade slower growing grasses like bluegrass and put down roots quickly to keep everyone else from washing away in the rain. Ryegrass, however, doesn’t spread well and is not very drought resistant, so is less than ideal for a whole lawn.
Adding a Touch of Irish to Your Lawn
Some people like a perfectly smooth, consistently green lawn. But if that’s not important to you, adding some clover to your grass mix is not a bad idea. Clover is very high in nitrogen, so when it’s mowed the cuttings essentially fertilize your lawn. Moreover, it crowds out weeds. However, it’s also pretty invasive, and if you live in a neighborhood filled with closely set, manicured lawns, your neighbors may cry foul!
Remember, no matter what grass you choose, consistent, careful mowing and fertilizing are the keys to an enviable lawn. Philadelphia landscaping companies can help you with the hard work of establishing and maintaining your gorgeous carpet of green.