With the arrival of spring, we’ll be able to ditch the insulated down jackets for lightweight sweaters and get back to enjoying the beautiful outdoors. Now’s the time to consider your lawn improvement projects for the year. A common choice for gardeners is putting down grass seed. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve broken down the common types of grass seed that are ideally suited for Michigan’s climate.
Different Types Of Grass Seed
Grass falls into two categories: cool-season grass and warm-season grass. Warm-season grasses include varieties like: St. Augustine grass, centipede grass, Bermudagrass, and Zoysiagrass. They tend to be thicker and popular for their lushness. However, since we live in Michigan, we are firmly in the cool-season zone. Therefore, certain mixes will germinate faster and perform better than others. Cool-season grass varietals prefer temperatures between 60 and 75°F and include creeping bentgrass, fine fescue, tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, annual ryegrass, and perennial ryegrass. We’ll focus on these varietals, as they are more likely to establish in lawns successfully. One thing to note: whichever grass seed you choose, it’s highly recommended that you get a blend of grass seed. When you put only one variety in the lawn, it makes the lawn vulnerable to disease and pests. By incorporating biodiversity, the health of your lawn improves.
Kentucky bluegrass is a good choice if you need to patch bare spots. It grows quickly and is good at recovering from damage. Unfortunately, while it can tolerate foot traffic well, it is more susceptible to lawn diseases and pests. It will tolerate light shade or full sun and prefers well-drained soil. Many varietals perform well in Michigan, which is probably why Kentucky bluegrass is the most widely grown grass in Michigan.
Fine fescues are an excellent seed to use in yards that are challenging. If your yard has an abundance of shade or struggles with moisture retention or poor soil, fine fescues are what you should choose. It’s tougher than other grasses and doesn’t require the same diligence to watering and fertilization schedules.
Tall fescue is suitable for lawns that have frequent foot traffic like pets and children. It’s also not particularly vulnerable to pests, so if you’ve experienced insect troubles in the past, tall fescue may be in order. They’re also a great natural weed controller, as they are very competitive and won’t allow as much sunlight to reach weeds lurking in the lawn. Tall fescues are extremely drought tolerant, so you don’t need to feel bad if you forget to water. The downside: their fast growth may require more mowing – something to keep in mind if you’ve got a larger yard or don’t have as much time to care for your lawn. Or you can hire a lawn maintenance company to take care of things for you!
Like fescue, ryegrass is a hardy drought-resistant varietal. They also share fescue’s competitiveness and will quickly establish lawns and block out potential weed growth. This grass comes in annual and perennial seeds. Annual ryegrass is a good way to quickly repair and restore thinning lawns acting as a “nurse crop.” Ryegrass is commonly mixed with Kentucky bluegrass since its rapid growth provides partial shade to the bluegrass until it becomes established in the lawn. Essentially, the ryegrass acts as a sun umbrella for varieties that may not tolerate or prefer direct sunlight.
Pro Tip: Perform Core Aeration
Whichever variety of grass seeds you choose, it’s highly recommended to have a core aeration done before putting down seed. This process will gently break up the soil to reduce compaction and allow sunlight, air, water, and nutrients to reach beneath the earth. This will aid established grass and create tiny pockets for new grass seeds to nestle into the soil as they germinate.
Leave Lawn Fertilization To the Pros
The Alpine Tree and Lawn Care experts deliver the highest quality lawn care services to Macomb County and parts of Oakland County, Michigan. Our lawn care program covers all the bases from herbicide to fertilization, so your grass looks like a postcard. Get your lawn care off on the right foot this spring – call 586-884-7799 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. Don’t forget to check out our monthly blog and Facebook page for advice on other lawn care and pest control topics!