If you are a family with kids and pets you might know how difficult to can be to find the time to maintain your lawn. There are so many aspects to growing a healthy lawn, and in reality, the work you are currently putting into your lawn might be going to waste. Growing a healthy, durable and low maintenance lawn not only requires the proper methods, but it can also depend upon the type of grass you use. In this article I’ll share a list of low maintenance grass types that work for families with kids and pets.
Let’s get started with some tips to make your lawn (of any grass type) thrive with less maintenance.
Practices for a Low Maintenance Lawn
In order to have a strong and beautiful lawn that requires low maintenance, there are two main practices that can you can follow.
Following these lawn maintenance practices will help your lawn thrive with less maintenance, whether or not you have traditional low maintenance grass types as the foundation of your lawn.
- Mow your grass around 3-3.5 inches: This will reduce the possibility of weed seeds germinating. Letting your grass grow to this ideal height will also help to build a larger root mass that is more tolerant of drought. This allows you to water your lawn less frequently.
- Mulch your grass clippings: Mulching is the act of mowing your grass clippings back into your lawn. Instead of bagging and removing your lawn clippings, you allow them to stay on top of your lawn. This adds nitrogen and makes it so that your lawn requires less lawn fertilizer meaning less maintenance for you.
How to Choose the Best Low Maintenance Grass for Your Lawn
There are lots of options when it comes to choosing the right grass, and you need to take into account the following factors and considerations when selecting a type of grass that will thrive in your yard and require less maintenance.
These considerations include:
- Growing Zone: Should you choose cool season or warm season grass? Northern US homes should plant cool-season grass types, southern US homes should choose warm-season grasses.
- Light: How much sun or shade does your lot get? Some grasses only thrive in full shade, others in full sun. If you have a mix of light conditions on your lot you should probably use a grass seed blend.
- Soil Type: The type of soil you have in your yard (sand, clay, or something in between) plays a big role. Sandy soils drain quickly, and require grass types that are more drought tolerant. Clay soils require tough grasses that can grow large root seasons to help your yard dry out.
- Water Frequency: A lawn in the Pacific Northwest will get more rain than a lawn in Minnesota, even though both lawns require cool-season grasses. Take rainfall (and whether or not you have an irrigation system) into account when choosing the best low maintenance grass type for your yard.
My Favorite Low Maintenance Grass Types
Here’s a list of some of my favorite types of grass that require less maintenance than others.
Kentucky bluegrass lawns are known to be beautiful, but often require 2-4 pounds of fertilizer each year in order to maintain a good appearance. You’ll basically want to apply nitrogen up to five times each year for an ideal Kentucky blue lawn, which obviously isn’t what you’d define as “low maintenance” in the traditional sense.
With that said, the defining characteristic of Kentucky bluegrass is the fact that it holds up VERY well to use.
This makes it a popular choice for lawns, play areas, golf courses, and sports fields, and if you don’t mind spending 30 minutes 4-5 times per year spreading fertilizer, you’ll be rewarded with an incredible lawn if you go with Kentucky Blue.
Instead of using bluegrass, a better low maintenance grass for many homeowners is Tall Fescue grass.
Tall Fescue grass is a turf-type grass and requires less than one half of the nitrogen needed to grow Kentucky Bluegrass. Your Tall Fescue lawn will thrive with only one application annually, leading to a lot less work for you.
The advantages of Fescue is reiterated by Bob Bricault of the Michigan State University Extension: ” Turf-type tall fescue grasses have a larger root mass than other lawn grasses, improving their ability to handle tdrought and withstand grub damage. This grass needs less fertilizer and does well with one to three applications of nitrogen.”
In addition, the thick root mass mentioned by Bob make them more durable. I’ve enjoyed a turf-type tall fescue lawn for over 10 years now and can tell you with certainty that this type of lawn will hold up well to heavy foot traffic (kids, pets, etc.), a point emphasized by Mr. Bricault, who says “It has good tolerance to wear from foot traffic and does well under summer heat stress.”
Tall Fescue also grows quite well in those transition areas of the U.S that may be too hot for many cool-season grasses, but too cool for many warm-season grasses.
It’s a solid all-around grass that will work well for homes in the northern half of the United States.
Fine fescue grasses are actually a group of grasses that are often used in mixes with Kentucky bluegrass to add shade tolerance.
This type of grass is also great for those who are looking for a low maintenance seed because it only requires two applications of fertilizer per year and does not require a lot of water, meaning it does well under drought conditions.
Fine fescue generally requires very little lawn care. The one downside is that this grass is not quite as resilient as some of the other grasses on this list, so it may not hold up quite as well to heavy foot traffic and damage from pets and kids.
Still, it’s a nice low-maintenance grass that will work for many families.
Bahiagrass is a great choice if you have an area with infertile soil.
This type of grass grows very well in full sun and produces a coarse and thick covering that will stand up to abuse from pets, children and your neighborhood block party.
It doesn’t do as well in shady areas, or in clay soil, but if you have a sunny yard with sandy soil in a southern climate (particularly in the southeastern US), strongly consider this grass type for your low-care lawn.
UC Verde Buffalo grass
This grass withstand hot and dry weather, and amazingly it actually requires 75% less watering than traditional turf grasses.
The lawn of UC Verde grows as a flowing lawn if allowed to grow as a meadow, or a thick turf lawn when mowed once every 2-3 weeks.
This slow-growing, low-maintenance grass is great for running, playing, and it can handle as much foot traffic as your family can throw at it.
You should grow UC Verde in full sun, and in temperate zones that stay between 20-90 degrees. It’s a great grass for southern climates, and does particularly well in California.
Fleur de Lawn
This lawn is actually a mix of grass and a low-growing clover. The secret to this grass is that the clover takes nitrogen from the air and draws it into the soil, this fertilizes the grass without you lifting a finer, and helps to keep your yard green year-round.
The clover also crowds out weeds such as dandelions and crabgrass. This makes it a self-fertilizing grass that does not require any herbicide maintenance, lawn weed killer applications or a large amount of water.
You won’t have a golf course in your backyard, but the honeybees will love you, which makes it a nice eco-friendly alternative to grass.
A Zoysia grass lawn is one of the best options available to southern homeowners looking for a thick, uniform, low-maintenance lawn.
A warm-season grass usually used for golf courses or play areas, it has the ability to take on coarse or fine texture. This is a grass that stands up to drought and Zoysia has a slow growth rate so you won’t have to mow frequently.
After it grows it is extremely tolerant of foot traffic, and even dogs will have a hard time destroying a Zoysia grass lawn.
Choose the Right Grass for Your Lot
No matter where you live, if you’re looking for a tough lawn that won’t require as much maintenance as other grass types, any of these low maintenance options might be a fit for you.
Just pay attention to your lawn zone, light conditions on your property, soil type, and rainfall. Let these factors (and this list) guide you when choosing a low maintenance grass for your yard.
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