Kentucky bluegrass is the most popular grass in Northern Utah because it is very soft and is relatively easy to grow and maintain. Bluegrass will tolerate low to moderate foot traffic and recovers reasonably quickly when damaged. Some of the drawbacks to Bluegrass are that when seeded, it is slow to get established and is not very shade tolerant. In general, however it is the best grass to grow in our area. Seed Bluegrass at a rate of three to four pounds per thousand square feet, it will take 14-21 days for the grass to emerge, so be patient with it. It is best to use a blend of several types of Bluegrass for improved disease control and insect resistance. Some popular bluegrass blends include Fast & Green, Magic Turf and Velvet Turf. Fertilize every six weeks and consult nursery personnel before using a broadleaf weed killer to eliminate weeds in the new lawn.
Perennial Rye grass is also a common grass planted in Utah. It looks very similar to Bluegrass and is used on golf courses and sports fields because of its durability. Ryegrass will tolerate more foot traffic than Bluegrass and is slightly more shade tolerant than Bluegrass. One disadvantage to Rye grass is when it is damaged and completely removed from the soil, it will not automatically recover. It is necessary to re-seed in these situations. Plant Ryegrass at a rate of three to four pounds per thousand square feet. It will take Ryegrass 7-14 days to germinate in average conditions. Again it is best to seed with a blend of Ryegrass varieties for the same reasons as Bluegrass. A very popular perennial ryegrass blend is Futura 3000. Fertilize every six-weeks so the lawn can establish more quickly.
In general, Fescue should only be used in special situations. It is a very good grass to use in the shade, and there are fescue blends that can be grown if a lower maintenance lawn is desired. The most common types used for the lawn are Chewing Red Fescue and Creeping Red Fescue. Both look very similar to each other, but they look different than Rye and Bluegrass. If the lawn is not growing well in a shady location, try planting Fescue in combination with either Ryegrass or Bluegrass to keep a consistent look for the entire lawn. If the mix with the Rye or Bluegrass does not work then go ahead and plant straight Chewing or Creeping Red Fescue.
Seed Fescue at a rate of three to four pounds per thousand square feet. It will take 14 to 21 day to see germination. Fertilize with a good starter fertilizer about every six weeks.
Over the last few years, drought tolerant turf species have become more important to home owners along the Wasatch Front. These drought tolerant grasses are generally not as ornamental and normally do not tolerate as much foot traffic as bluegrass, rye or fescue. Although they are still very acceptable to use as long as there limitations are known, we do not recommend planting these grasses in all situations. The most popular drought tolerant grass to use is Buffalo grass. Please contact J&J Nursery for further details about this or any other garden and yard related questions.