5 Best Grass Species for Ohio

A well-manicured lawn is the fundamental building block of curb appeal. High-quality lawns create a clean backdrop for colorful landscapes and lawn décor (and it may even increase the value of your home).

There are many factors that go into creating a lush, green lawn, but the first step is picking a grass species that thrives in the cooler climates of Ohio.

Ohio is evenly split between USDA zones 5 and 6, which makes it the ideal environment for cool-season grasses. Cool-season grasses have a bunching growth habit and have active growth periods during the spring and fall. The best grass species for Ohio are:

  • Tall Fescue
  • Fine Fescue
  • Perennial Rye
  • Kentucky Bluegrass
  • Bentgrass

So, which one is best for your lawn?
Let’s find out.

1. Tall Fescue

Tall fescue is a coarse, dense turf grass with long blades.
This species is tolerant of poor soil, poor drainage, drought, and light shade.
Tall Fescue: Basic Care

Tall fescue is a durable turf grass, but it still requires consistent maintenance:

  • Durability: Moderate-High
  • Mowing Height: 3.5”-4”
  • Irrigation Needs: 1”-1.25” per week
  • Fertilizer Needs: 3-5lbs of nitrogen per 1,000sq’
  • Common Pests/Diseases: billbug, fall armyworm, white grubs

Plant tall fescue in late summer through early fall so the roots have time to establish before winter.

2. Fine Fescue

Fine fescues are divided into three lawn-quality turf grasses:

  • Creeping Red Fescue
  • Chewings Fescue
  • Hard Fescue

These grasses are usually blended with tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass to form a shade-tolerant, cool-season turf mix.

Fine Fescue: Basic Care

Fine fescues have a soft texture and deep green color. They are the most shade-tolerant cool-season grasses, and they require less water and fertilizer than almost any other cool-season turf species.

  • Durability: Moderate-High
  • Mowing Height: 1”-3”
  • Irrigation Needs: .5”-1” per week
  • Fertilizer Needs: 3-5lbs of nitrogen per 1,000sq’
  • Common Pests/Diseases: billbug, fall armyworm, white grubs

Plant fine fescue in late summer through early fall so the roots have time to establish before winter.

3. Perennial Rye

Perennial rye germinates faster than other cool-season grasses, but it is slow to spread. The most common use for perennial rye is as part of a blend with more vigorous species, like Kentucky bluegrass.

Recent advances with perennial rye have made it more tolerant of drought and foot traffic. Perennial rye is more tolerant of alkaline soils than fescues or bluegrass, which makes it a popular choice for homeowners with high pH soils.

Perennial Rye: Basic Care

Perennial rye is generally part of a cool-season blend, but it can also be used as a stand-alone turf, although it can be high-maintenance and may go dormant without proper care.

  • Durability: Moderate-High
  • Mowing Height: 1.5”-2.5”
  • Irrigation Needs: 1.25”-1.5” per week
  • Fertilizer Needs: 2-4lbs of nitrogen per 1,000sq’
  • Common Pests/Diseases: thrips, grubs, sod webworms, brown patch, dollar spot

Plant perennial rye in early spring or early fall. Fall is best so the roots can become established before winter.

4. Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is one of the most popular turf grasses in Ohio.

Kentucky bluegrass has a deep blue-green color and a soft, sturdy texture. Although Kentucky bluegrass is a cool-season grass, it has a warm-season growth habit. Rhizomes spread underground to create a thick sod that fills in quickly and holds up to heavy foot traffic.

This grass is often mixed with perennial rye and fescue to give the turf more durability. However, Kentucky bluegrass is only slightly shade tolerant, and it takes three times longer to germinate than perennial rye. The roots are more shallow than other turf species, so it is more sensitive to drought and fertilizer deficiencies.

4. Kentucky Bluegrass: Basic Care

Kentucky bluegrass can be a high-maintenance turf, but the deep emerald color and soft carpet texture are worth the extra water.

  • Durability: Moderate-High
  • Mowing Height: 2.5”-3”
  • Irrigation Needs: 1.25”-2.5” per week
  • Fertilizer Needs: 3-6lbs of nitrogen per 1,000sq’
  • Common Pests/Diseases: grubs

Plant Kentucky bluegrass in early fall so the roots have time to establish before winter.

5. Bentgrass

Bentgrass is a specialty turf grass that is mostly used on golf courses.
This grass is an extremely low-growing, mat-forming turf that requires consistent maintenance. This discourages most homeowners from attempting to use it in their lawns. However, it creates a manicured, luxurious image, which makes it an attractive option in some areas.

For a more lawn-friendly bentgrass, try varieties bred for residential purposes. They are a little taller and require less maintenance.

Note: Bentgrass can become invasive in lawns and is a common weed in lawns with a fescue/bluegrass blend. Do not use bentgrass as a blend with other grasses.
Bentgrass: Basic Care

Bentgrass is the most high-maintenance grass on our list, but if you love lawn care, this may be the turf for you.

  • Durability: High
  • Mowing Height: .5”-.75”
  • Irrigation Needs: 1.25”-2” per week
  • Fertilizer Needs: 2-5lbs of nitrogen per 1,000sq’
  • Common Pests/Diseases: sod webworms, grubs, cutworms, dollar spot, brown patch

Plant bentgrass in early fall so the roots have time to establish before winter.

Want a show-stopping lawn, but not sure where to start? We offer year-round lawn and landscape maintenance. Contact us today for more information.

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