Grass Seeding this fall - Knowledgebase Question

Iowa City, Io
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Question by pmrocca
November 5, 2005
How do I know what grass seed(s) to use to

Answer from NGA
November 5, 2005
Turfgrasses best suited for Iowa are:

Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis)
Kentucky bluegrass is one of the best turfgrasses for Iowa. It forms a dense, medium textured, dark green turf. Kentucky bluegrass has extensive underground stems (rhizomes), giving it the ability to fill in and recover quickly from damage. When mowed at the proper height of 2.5 to 3.5 inches, this grass is very competitive with weeds. Kentucky bluegrass has poor shade tolerance. There are, however, some cultivars that are better suited for part-shade locations. Kentucky bluegrass also has a shallow root system and therefore a high demand for water, especially in summer. It does not tolerate high temperatures well and often goes dormant in summer. However, Kentucky bluegrass quickly recovers when provided adequate moisture and when temperatures cool in the fall.

Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne)
Perennial ryegrass is a dark green, medium textured grass. It germinates and establishes quickly and has excellent wear resistance. Perennial ryegrass is a bunch-type grass. It recovers slowly after damage because it has no stolons or rhizomes. Like Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass should be mowed 2.5 to 3.5 inches tall and performs best in full sun. It is best used in mixes with Kentucky bluegrass, especially in high traffic areas, because of its wear resistance. It also is not tolerant of low temperatures and therefore may suffer winter damage.

Fine Fescue (Festuca spp.)
Fine fescue is the name given to a group of fine-textured, medium to light green grasses that are well adapted to shade. Good species of fine fescue for Iowa include creeping red fescue (F. rubra), chewings fescue (F. rubra ssp. fallax), and hard fescue (F. brevipila). All spread by above and below ground stems and have fair drought tolerance. They do, however, lose their color during dry periods. Mow at 2.5 to 3.5 inches tall.

Tall Fescue (Festuca arundinacea)
Tall fescue is a coarse, dark green turf. It has excellent wear resistance, but like perennial ryegrass, is a bunch-type grass and therefore recovers slowly from damage. This grass has good drought and heat tolerance. Mow at a height of 3 to 4 inches. Sometimes considered a weed in Kentucky bluegrass lawns because of its coarse texture, new cultivars with finer texture have been developed. These turf-type tall fescues are preferred because of their finer texture and dense growth.

Choose any of the above, or a mixture of these grasses to overseed your present lawn.

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