The lawn can be likened to the canvas on which an artist paints a picture. An attractive lawn adds much to the enjoyment of home ownership and outdoor living. Having an attractive lawn requires careful preparation of the soil before planting plus regular maintenance.
Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) is the most commonly planted and one of the best lawn grasses. A number of cultivars have been developed, most of which are improvements over the species. 'Park' and 'Newport', two cultivars used in lawn grass mixtures, are good for the average lawn. 'Park' was developed by the Agronomy Department of the University of Minnesota and exhibits especially good seedling vigor. It also turns green early in the spring. 'Newport' has a darker green color and broader leaves than common bluegrass. Other cultivars of Kentucky bluegrass that are being used in seed mixtures include 'Aquila', 'South Dakota Certified', 'Birka', 'Sydsport', 'Nugget', 'America', and 'Arboretum'. Each of the above cultivars have certain characteristics of disease resistance or drought tolerance that make them superior to the common Kentucky bluegrass.
For a really fine lawn that can be mowed to a height of %-l inch, a number of elite types of bluegrass have been developed: 'Merion', 'Glade', 'Adelphi', 'Parade', 'Baron', 'Fylking', 'Bristol', 'Touch down', 'Bonnieblue', and 'Majestic'. For best results, these elite types require extra care. They must be watered, mowed, and fertilized at regular intervals. Unless you have the time, it is best to plant a seed mixture containing one or more cultivars recommended for an average lawn.
Creeping red fescue (Festuca rubra) is more shade and drought tolerant than Kentucky bluegrass. Improved cultivars include: 'II-lahee', 'Ensylva', 'Koket', 'Highlight', 'Ruby', and 'Pennlawn'. These vigorous selections have performed well in our area. Most commercial seed mixtures contain one or more of the above selections in combination with selections of Kentucky bluegrass.
Bentgrasses are of several types belonging to the genus Agrostis. Creeping bent (A. palustris) is used on golf greens. It should not be planted for the home lawn unless one has unlimited time and interest in giving it special care. Colonial bent (A. tenuis) is seed propagated. It makes a good lawn but requires more care than the bluegrasses and fescues. Bentgrasses do not blend well with other grasses. Redtop (A. alba) is often used as a nurse crop. It germinates quickly to produce a green lawn. It is relatively short-lived and gradually gives way to the more desirable grasses.
Ryegrasses belong to the genus Lolium. The perennial ryegrass (L. perenne) is relatively short-lived. It is often used as a nurse crop or where a temporary lawn is desired. New cultivars are being developed that have greater hardiness; they are being recommended for use in mixtures with Kentucky bluegrasses for athletic fields and home lawns. 'NK-200' appears to be the hardiest, followed by 'Eton', 'Manhattan', and 'Pennfine'.
Zoysia (Z. japonica) is a warm-season grass that is widely advertised. It is slow to turn green in the spring and turns brown early in the fall. It has been slow to become established and has not been too winter hardy, especially in open winters with little or no snow. Lawn experts do not recommend it in our area.
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