How to Care for Cool Season Grasses

BY
Livvy
/
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in
Gardening

Cool-season grasses mainly grow in the northern and northeastern parts of the United States. They can produce cooler temperatures and are less tolerant of hot and dry conditions. The most common types of cool-season grasses are, 

1. Kentucky bluegrass,

2. Perennial ryegrass, 

3. Fine fescue,

4. Tall fescue.

How to care cool season turf grasses

Growing cool-season grass requires diligent planning to fortify a green healthy lawn. Here are a few steps you need to follow,

 

  • Pick out the correct grass breed for your garden
  • Prepare  to sow at the precise time of the year
  • Analyze your soil
  • Prepare the soil
  • Choose the adequate gardening tools
  • Plant your grass seed
  • Dethatching and core aeration
  • Apply fertilizer
  • Irrigation
  • First mow by automatic lawnmower
  • Overseeding

 

The correct grass breed for your garden

There are some grass types of cool-season that you can use for your lawn if you live in the northern U.S. They vary in appearance, cold hardiness drought, shade, and heat tolerance. You have to choose the right grass for your specific climatic conditions,

Kentucky bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is one of the most beautiful lawn grasses. It has wide, boat-shaped grass blades that grow in blue-green. It grows very densely and spreads quickly to your yard. However, this type of grass isn’t drought-tolerant and will require more watering than other varieties. It is not shade-tolerant and will need at least six hours of sun a day. This grass requires a relatively high level of maintenance to look its best, but the results can be worth it. Its seed sprouts best when the soil temperature is between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Perennial ryegrass 

Perennial ryegrass is a fast-growing grass with high foot traffic tolerance. It has a shallow root system, the majority of the grass’s roots sit in the first six inches of the soil. Despite this, it manages to form a very dense sod that germinates quickly.

Fine fescue

Fine Fescues are unique among lawn grasses. It has many different varieties, they are very fine, thin, and greyish. They have the finest leave and the lowest fertiliser and moisture requirements of all varieties. They grow quickly and have a high shade tolerance but low foot-traffic tolerance.

Tall fescue

Tall fescue is a popular choice for yards and lawns for its thick appearance and uniform growth habit. It has dark-green leaf blades that can adapt to a wide variety of soil types and is disease-resistant. Varieties of tall fescue are distinguished by a taller and tougher stalk than fine fescue. It grows fast, so it needs frequent mowing.

Plant at the right time of the year

The ideal time to seed grass in northern climates is in the fall. Because the ground is still warm but not too hot, the air temperature is just right for growth, and there’s plenty of rain and moisture in the soil. 

Planting in fall or spring one or both of these time frames gives new grass enough time to sprout and become established before the intense weather extremes of winter. The exact time would be late August and early September for the seeding.

Analyze your soil

Testing your soil isn’t required for planting grass, but it’s a good idea if you want your seeds to grow into a healthy lawn. When nutrients, soil pH, and salt levels are imbalanced, your grass will have difficulty flourishing. A soil test helps you determine a successful fertilizer treatment that targets your lawn’s specific nutrient. A Sign of healthy Soil is, rich in organic matter tends to be darker and crumbles off of the roots of plants when you pull up. A healthy, spread-out root system is also a sign of good soil. You can test your soil at home or you can get it done by the local laboratory as well.

Prepare your soil

Before planting your grass seed, you’ll need to loosen up the soil because hard soil has a difficult time absorbing water. You need to remove any kind of rocks, scrap or unwanted weeds from the yard to compose the ground for seeding. By choosing the correct gardening tools your work will become much easier to accomplish.

If your soil test revealed any pH or nutrient problem then adding some lime or sulphur to the soil can regulate the pH issues. And for lacking nutrients, there are certain fertilizers to help.

Choose the adequate gardening tools

The correct gardening tools will help you to execute the task effortlessly and also saves you time and energy. The basic need for gardening tools is to perform some tasks such as digging the soil, planting the seeds, watering, harvesting and removing rocks or unwanted weeds etc.

Plant your grass seed

Once your soil is ready, it’s time to spread cool-season grass seeds over the yard which you have chosen.  Spreading the grass seed in all directions there are two ways to ensure you cover the entire area.

You can spread the seeds by hand or you can use a spreader, it will make the job go by a little faster, especially when seeding over large areas. It also ensures you spread the seed evenly and don’t miss any spots. 

Dethatching and core aeration

Dethatching

Dethatching is an efficient method of removing excess thatch like dead grass, scraps and other organic matter that lies on the soil's surface from your lawn so that oxygen, nutrients and water can reach the soil. It helps to circulate air deep down into the roots and stimulate.

A small amount of thatch helps conserve water in the soil by blocking evaporation, but heavy thatch build-up (more than 1 or 2 inches) keeps air and water from ever reaching the soil. If there's too much thatch on your lawn you can use rake it up. 

Rake is a useful tool for removing thatch or any weeds, debriefs or clogs from the ground before planting.

Lime helps to improve lawn colour and density, helps to control thatch, and increases root development.

For cool-season grasses, the best time to dethatch your lawn is early spring or early fall.

Core-aeration

If you think your lawn has heavy foot traffic, vehicles come and go on the grass or compacted soil then aerating your lawn will be a benefit for you.

Aeration is a process of poking holes into the soil so that your lawn and your soil can breathe. It helps oxygen, water and nutrients spread into the ground through the holes so your grass can grow strong and healthy.

Two main aerating tools are a spike aerator and a plug aerator. You can also use a gardening fork as well. August is the best time to aerate the soil, right before planting new seeds.

Apply fertilizer

Fertilizer is very much needed for a healthy green lawn. Because it adds nutrients to the soil so that soil can provide nutrients to the grass. If you mow regularly, your grass will grow very quickly, which means it needs more nutrients than an average plant. 

You can use granular or dry fertiliser on the soil, it is a great option for situations that favour orthodox slow-release formulations. Most garden stores carry several different types of granular fertilizer, which are specially designed to address specific soil conditions.

Also, you can use Nitrogen (N) liquid fertilizer as well. Liquid fertilizer is likely the better option if you need to green up your lawn quickly. Because liquid fertilizer provides nutrients right away, it is absorbed by plants from the soil in prominent qualities.

Irrigation

Water your cool-season grass lawn less often and for a long period to promote a deep, healthy root system. Cool-season grasses need 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week.

The general rule is to water laboriously when the lawn needs it. If you water lightly, the water won't make it down into the soil so it won't do much good. Water your lawn twice a day for the first week.

Always water your lawn in the morning which allows your soil to soak up the water before the afternoon sun evaporates it. The evening might seem like a great time to water your lawn since the sun will be down, but the grass does need a few hours of sun to help it dry off. Water that remains on the grass for too long creates a moist environment attractive to pests and diseases. 

Watering recommendations vary between different soil types if your soil is sandy it may need to be watered every few days.

First mow by automatic lawnmower

Proper mowing is the foundation of good lawn care. HYgreen brings the eco-friendly automatic lawnmower, GOMOW. It provides professional Lawn care maintenance.

Mowing also encourages the grass plant to expand. When the blades cut down the leaves, the plant has to grow new leaves to absorb sunlight. This helps build a thicker, heavier lawn, which is more resistant to weeds and disease.

After your grass reaches 3 – 4 inches tall then you can start mowing. First, set your mower cutting height a little bit higher because you don’t have to remove any more than one-third of the blade per mow. For example, if your grass is 3 inches tall, don’t remove more than 1 inch. Otherwise, you’ll stress your turf. One common mowing mistake that most people do is cutting the grass too short. It's best to keep cool-season grasses at about 3 inches (7.5 cm) high or taller. 

It's best to mow frequently during the growing season. It depends on your grass growth rate. If the grass is growing too slowly and your mower is mowing too frequently, then it will harm the health of your grass. Then once a week will be adequate for mow. And if your grass growing rate is fast then the cutting schedule for the mower should be more frequent like twice a week.

Each grass type has a recommended mowing height. Check with your local Cooperative office for the best mowing heights for your area. 

Overseeding

It takes years for grasses to grow longer and denser, making it difficult to maintain a full lawn cover and allowing unwanted weeds to pop up. Overseeding can improve patchy dead spots in lawns and ensure a luxuriant surface.

Mainly overseeding is the process of spreading seeds on an existing lawn to make it thicker and greener. With the help of the broadcast spreader, you can spread grass seed over the thinning or dead spots, or yellowed lawn to bring it back to life. Overseeding works on most lawn types, including fine and tall fescue, annual and perennial ryegrass, and Kentucky bluegrass.

Before you start the process make sure you find out which grass seed is already existing in your lawn otherwise you will see two different grass species’ colours and appearances clashing in the lawn.