During winter, most turf grasses go dormant – they turn in a straw-yellow or brown color. For this reason, homeowners decide to overseed their warm season grass lawns like Bermudagrass, zoysia, or St. Augustine with a cool season grass like ryegrass for color before the onset of cold winter.
Apart from overseeding for color, you can also plant winter grass in the fall to enjoy a green cover in your yard during the winter. You’ll need to choose a grass that stays green in winter and properly time your planting. Winter grass will also need proper care and maintenance to remain healthy throughout the season.
Grasses that stay green in winter
The following are the best grasses that grow in winter and stay green during the cold season:
1. Kentucky bluegrass
Kentucky bluegrass is a type of grass that is classified as cool seasoned grass and it does very well in winterized regions. Unlike other types of cool season grasses, KBG tends to germinate slowly but spreads faster on the field with the help of its rhizomes forming a thick turf that cannot be damaged easily.
KBG is usually dormant during summer due to its shallow roots hence cannot tolerate high heat and drought but it quickly recovers after irrigation. This grass requires a high level of maintenance for best results. Check how to make Kentucky bluegrass spread faster.
2. Ryegrass species
Ryegrass is a type of grass that has spread all over the United States and is classified as cool seasoned grass. Ryegrass usually germinates very fast during the fall and spring seasons. However, during summer it’s usually dormant. This grass can stay green in winter, the reason why it is commonly used for overseeding dormant warm-season grasses for winter color.
Both annual and perennial varieties of ryegrass have very shallow roots which limit its drought and heat perseverance as compared to warm-season grasses which have deep roots. The good news is that various turf research and breeding programs have upgraded perennial ryegrass to come up with varieties that can tolerate heat and drought conditions.
3. Velvet Bentgrass
Velvet Bent is a type of grass that is lighter in color and is known to be the oldest grass commonly used in golf fields because of its fine lawns. Velvet bent grass requires a lot of fertilizer and water intake and hence cannot tolerate warm or dry areas. It has been tested scientifically hence it’s one of the toughest grass that can persevere high winter season.
4. Improved Tall Fescue
Tall fescue is classified as cool seasoned grass. This type of grass can survive in various types of climates be it hot, cold, or even dry. Its ability to resist diseases provides gardeners with a very beautiful lawn. Tall fescue grass germinates faster forming long extensive roots as compared to other cool-season grasses hence can tolerate heat and drought.
During cool fall and spring, tall fescue is usually at its peak growth. Improved tall fescue has the ability to repair itself due to its clumps that spreads all over forming tillers which are very easy to maintain in case damage has occurred in the lawn. Check how to make tall fescue grass spread faster.
5. Chewing Red Grass
Chewing Red Grass is categorized as cool seasoned grass that is ever-green during the cold season. The grass can grow very well in infertile, acidic, or sandy soil. It can also be used for overseeding other lawn grasses. However, it germinates slowly in a span of 14 to 21 days.
6. Creeping Bentgrass
Creeping bentgrass is a fine textured grass that has very narrow leaves that are flat and is classified as cool seasoned grass that can tolerate winter conditions. This type of grass grows slowly forming very shallow roots that spread by means of a stolen forming a very beautiful thatch layer above the soil.
Creeping bentgrass requires a high level of maintenance and care hence water is needed frequently as well as fertilizer in big quantities.
7. Rough Meadow Grass
Rough Meadow is also known as Rough stalk Blue Grass or rough-stalked meadow grass and is classified as annual and perennial. Rough meadow grass has stolen leaves that are purplish in color and are very appealing to the eyes. It is adapted to both wet and dry soil and for it to produce flowers a period of cold winter is required.
8. Annual Meadow Grass
Annual meadow grass is categorized as both biennial and perennial grass that has shallow roots. It’s considered to be the oldest type of grass in some countries and tends to change color during dry conditions.
Due to its sensitivity during summer annual meadow grass is considered to be the best type of grass that can tolerate the cold conditions of winter.
Tips for planting Winter Grass
Similar to starting a new lawn, you need to prepare adequately when planting winter grass. Start by conducting a soil test to determine the level of PH and nutrients needed. Most winter grasses thrive in the pH range of 6.0 to 7.0 respectively.
Next, prepare the ground by removing rocks and large debris from the area and rake out the surface to be smooth. Apply fertilizer before or after planting based on soil test recommendations to give your grass a great head start.
Choose the right type of winter grass seed and use a spreader to cast them. Follow the recommended amounts for the seed you’re using. Cover the seed with 1/4 inch of topsoil to prevent them from drying up or blowing up. Finally, water to keep the planted seed moist until they germinate.
Just because it’s fall or winter doesn’t mean you stop caring for your winter lawn. Once the grass has been established, you need to mow, fertilize, and water accordingly. Note that, winter grass will go dormant when temperatures consistently fall below 50 degrees F or raise above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.