We have had lots of questions about grass recently. It’s something that a lot of people take for granted, but if you are new to Northwest Arkansas growing and keeping your grass alive can be a challenge. A lot of homeowners have given up or don’t want the hassle of mowing and simply have gravel yards.
The Ozarks are a transitional band that is somewhere in between cool and warm weather grasses. So what grows best? What grows at all? Most importantly what kind of grass will help with my erosion?
Establishing and developing a green, thick, lush lawn takes time and more than one type of grass. Fescue and zoysia are often mixed together with great results.
The pre-mixed seed mixtures sold in stores have many combinations of seeds in them, and then these mixtures have been compounded with different seed strains. The possibilities of seed mixtures already mixed on the market are nearly endless. So reading the ingredients on the bag can be confusing if you don’t already have an idea of what will work best for your area and soil quality.
Tall turf type fescues forms a deep root system in sandy soil or the horrible clay that we have here in Northwest Arkansas.It also tolerates a wide range of soil pH and grows well in light shade and great in full sun. All of this a makes it one of the most drought tolerant cold weather grasses. Turf type fescues usually need to be mowed about once per week and should be kept 3 to 4 inches tall.
Zoysia grass is a beautiful dark green color and forms a dense lush cover. It tolerates a variety of temperatures as well as varying amounts of sunlight and water. As this grass matures it’s density forms a great barrier against weeds, which is why it works so well with fescue. Zoysia’s tough leaf texture stands up well to heavy traffic and makes it a great candidate not only for your lawn but golf courses too. Like fescue, zoysia can be mowed once a week, however if you like a shorter lawn zoysia can be mowed down to about 2 inches.
Kentucky Bluegrass is another cool weather grass but adapts well to open full sun locations in the spring and fall, but may need shade during the summer afternoon sun. It should be kept about 3 inches tall and mowed about once a week like the fescue and zoysia.
Perennial Ryegrass is a fast germinator and often used as a cover crop for seeding over other grasses while they establish or during the winter months, This grass is not very drought tolerant and requires frequent watering in our area. However it does stay green during the winter when other grasses are dormant. We have Perennial Rye in our yard and it does great in the shaded areas around our house. Perennial Rye should be kept about 2 to 3 inches tall.
Fine Leaf Fescue
Fine Leaf Fescue is another quick germinating grass that is also used for overseeding. This grass type is great in helping to prevent erosion. It grows best in dry shady areas and doesn’t mind slightly acidic soil.
Buffalo Grass may be the only turf grass that is native to North America. It is a very fine grass with a beautiful soft blueish green color. Buffalo Grass usually grows in climates with only a foot or two of rain per year, if it becomes extremely dry it will however become dormant. It thrives in neutral to alkaline clay soil. Buffalo grass does not have to mowed at all but can be kept between 2 and 4 inches tall.
We all want a perfectly manicured lush green yard. Unfortunately this causes a lot of Americans to over mow. Mowing creates wounds in our yard which leave it susceptible to fungus and disease. This is amplified if we mow the lawn too short, we should never remove more than one third of the leaf growth when trimming our yards. Mowing our yards to soon also prevents our grass from producing seed and re-seeding themselves. We always let our yard go to seed at least once in the spring and again in the fall. Our last tip is “Don’t Bag It”. Leave your grass clippings in your lawn, they act as natural compost by adding organic matter back into your soil. That’s also where your free seed will be.
We hope this helps clear up some of your grass questions. Different yards in Northwest Arkansas require different seed mixtures. One type of seed may work great in one area of your yard but not another. As well as adding a certain type of seed for a while that will later be over run when a longer lasting variety fully establishes itself. It is possible to have a vibrant lush green yard in the Ozarks although it may take time and a lot of patience.