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Choosing Turf Species - Image of Turf-type tall fescue, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights March 2017.
Turf-type tall fescue.

What grass should be in your lawn?  The answer to this question depends on how hard you want to work on it, and what you expect it to look like in spring, summer and fall.  If you like to putz in the yard, and don’t mind spending 3-4 hours a week tending your turf, then you should grow Kentucky bluegrass.  It is a premium quality turfgrass, deep green in color and fine in texture.  Many bluegrass cultivars are pest prone, so some form of pest control products will need to be applied, along with 3-4 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer per year.

If medium maintenance and a slightly coarser texture are more your speed, consider turf type tall fescue.  Recent improvements with this species have made it possible to have a nice looking, sturdy turf with less care as bluegrass.  Tall fescue lawns normally require 50 to 75% of the time that a bluegrass lawn takes to maintain.

If you are into low maintenance, and just want something green out front, think about buffalograss.  This is a native warm season species that requires only monthly mowing, once-a-year fertilization and monthly watering once it is established.   Of course, you don’t get something for nothing.  The down side to buffalograss is that it is light green in color, and is green from May to October, unlike the dark green and April to November of bluegrass.

Hey, that’s what America is all about.  Freedom to choose.  So, match your lifestyle with your grass species.  That way, you’ll be using your time and energy according to your free time and interest in lawn work.

John Fech
John Fech
Extension Educator - Horticulture
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.

Contact John at:
Douglas/Sarpy County Extension
8015 W Center Road
Omaha, NE 68124-3175
(402) 444-7804

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