A Guide to Sod Grass by Region
For many home-owners, having a healthy, lush and green lawn is part of the pride of ownership. Whether it be the front or backyard, the appearance and quality of your lawn adds to the beauty of the home and serves to invite happy memories for you and your family. WIth this in mind, choosing the right type of sod for your area and climate is as important as continued maintenance.
Here we will give you a guide to different types of grass including where and how they grow best.
Types of Sod Grass
When it comes to growing plants including grasses, there are three main climate zones to be considered within the United States: Northern, Southern and Transition zone.
Northern Zone (Cool Season)
The Northern parts of the United States are marked by mild summers and fairly cold winters. The best time to plant cool season sod types is during the fall when the weather compliments the natural growing pattern of the plant. Your main choices for this zone are Perennial Ryegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Fine Leaf Fescue, and Tall Fescue. Below is a breakdown of specific qualities of each of these types of sod:
Perennial ryegrass is a slow spreading bunch forming grass which is the least cold tolerant of the cool season grasses. At the same time, this type of grass handles wet soils better than the rest. Because of this, it thrives best in areas with moderate climates and is well suited to coastal regions. In the Pacific Northwest with its cool but humid climate, perennial ryegrass is one of the most popular choices for permanent lawn sod.
This dark green, fine pointed grass is commonly used in sod mixes. It is frequently seeded over existing warm season grasses to keep lawns green during the colder months in Southern areas.
Unlike perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass grows via a system of rhizomes and has the greatest cold tolerance of all the cool season grass varieties. However, due to its shallow roots, this type of grass has a lower tolerance for heat and drought. Even so, Kentucky bluegrass is considered one of the most desirable types of grass for a permanent lawn. For many, this is because, true to its name, Kentucky bluegrass has a beautiful rich, deep emerald green color and a lush texture.
More fertilizer will be needed for this type of sod due to its need for the extra minerals to keep the color. Kentucky bluegrass is frequently blended with perennial ryegrass to keep lawns full and without bare spots.
Fine Leaf Fescue
Fine Leaf Fescue describes a group of about five subtypes including Hard Fescue, Red Creeping Fescue, Chewings Fescue and Sheep Fescue. Sod is usually sold as a blend of several or all of the subtypes. Most of the fine leaf species are clump forming with the exception of the red creeping variety which spreads by rhizomes. By appearance these fescues are medium green to blue green in color with a fine delicate texture. The thin leaves and ability to tolerate shade are what distinguishes this type of Fescue from Tall Fescue.
Tall Fescue is a bunch-growing grass like perennial ryegrass, but it is much hardier due to its extensive root system which can extend up to 3 feet deep. This grass can withstand both heat and drought better than the other two varieties of cool season grasses and also does better in heavier shaded areas. Though some people find its coarser texture to be less attractive, it is a great choice for many areas and has more cross-over into the other climate zones than a lot of sod types.
Also known for being pest and disease resistant, some of the only drawbacks to Tall Fescue for Northern zone states are its less appealing appearance and the fact that it doesn’t spread well. Otherwise this sod grass will generally require less upkeep than perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass.
Southern Zone (Warm Season)
The Southern zone or warm season states tend to have warmer springs and hotter summers than the Northern zone. The types of sod grass that do best in this section of the U.S. grow well with lots of sun and tend to be less cold resistant. Though in places with very little summer rainfall, they will require additional watering and in the winter, will typically go dormant and turn brown.
For warm season areas you should choose among St. Augustine grass, Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass, Centipede grass and Buffalo grass. For sod grass in Lewisville Texas and all of Dallas and Carrollton, click on our homepage to the left.
Here is a look at these Southern zone grasses:
St. Augustine grass
St. Augustine is one of the easiest types of grass to care for of the Southern grasses and is the darkest green color. It has a relatively coarse texture with wide, flat blades. Though it may not be the softest on the feet, it’s texture and growing pattern lends itself to covering imperfections on a lawn. If you are not able to get out to pull weeds often, this is a great option. St. Augustine is also shade tolerant and does well except in areas that never get sun at all.
The two main drawbacks to St. Augustine is that it thrives best when allowed to grow taller than other varieties of grass and it is also susceptible to chinch bugs.
With the fastest growth rate of any Southern grass, Bermuda is ideal for heavy traffic lawns. This grass is considered very resilient and able to recuperate from damage quite easily, making it perfect for households with kids and pets. It is also tolerant of heat, drought and salt but tends to go dormant in winter like much of the warm season grasses.
Low points are that bermudagrass is intolerant of shade, prone to thatching, and due to its aggressive growth rate, may require twice a week mowing during prime growing months.
Zoysia is another type of Southern grass with a dense, hardy disposition that lends itself to high traffic areas. This light to medium green grass is tolerant of heat and drought and more tolerant of cold than most warm season grasses. It grows via stolons and rhizomes and forms a deep root system. Zoysiagrass requires fairly low maintenance and less watering than other grasses.
A big positive to this type of grass is that it’s dense growing pattern serves to choke out weeds very effectively. It does tend to build up thatch though, so will need some dethatching which should be done in early spring to allow for sufficient recovery.
Centipedegrass spreads via creeping above ground stolons and forms a thick sod with a medium to light green color. It has a coarse texture with short stems and a slow growth pattern that lends itself to infrequent mowing.
This grass is by far the easiest to care for of all the warm season grasses, requiring less fertilization and general upkeep. However, it has a very specific region in which it thrives. Because this grass does best in sandy, acidic soils, it grows naturally in the Southeast area of the United States, from the Carolinas through the Southern Coastal Plains and down to the Texas Gulf Coast. Due to its inability to withstand drought, centipedegrass does not do well in other areas of the Southern zone.
Buffalograss is a blue green colored, low maintenance grass that is heat, cold and drought resistant. It forms a dense sod via branching stolons, occasional rhizomes and thin but numerous roots. Because it can survive on as little as 12 inches of rain per year, this grass is ideal for areas with water restrictions in place.
Though buffalograss is considered a warm season grass, its ability to withstand climatic extremes allows it to survive in most of the United States and parts of Canada. The main drawback to buffalograss is that it does not do well in areas of heavy traffic.
The transition zone is composed of the Northern South and the Southern North areas of the United States. The problem with establishing sod grass in these areas is that the weather patterns tend to be a mixture of the Northern and Southern climate zones, so keeping any grass stable can be a challenge. However there are certain types of sod grass that withstand extreme weather and take root in a variety of soils, including Tall Fescue and Zoysiagrass. These two types of grass are grown extensively in the transition zone and do quite well.
Another option for homeowners trying to keep a lawn in the transition zone is to opt for newer improved varieties of Bermudagrass including Yukon Bermudagrass and Riviera Bermudagrass which both tolerate cold better than plain warm climate bermudagrass.
This concludes our guide on sod grass. Hopefully this gives you some good tips on choosing the right grass for your region and climate. Remember all the types of grass mentioned will require additional attention depending on the positioning of the sun in relation to your yard, the amount of shade and the type of drainage available. Contact us for all your sod grass needs in Dallas. Happy planting!