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Grass Types

Bluegrass / Rye / Fescue:


The majority of northern lawns are a combination of Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass and fescues. Kentucky bluegrass will form the nicest lawn, but it has a very low shade tolerance. Ryegrass can tolerate heavy foot traffic, but does not tolerate extreme cold or drought conditions. Fescues (both tall and fine) are often found in mixes due to their tolerance of shade, foot traffic, cold and drought. When combined correctly, these grasses will form a dense turf that is acceptable for most northern lawns in the U.S.

  • Feel: soft, with some coarse grass possibly mixed in (tall fescue)

  • Growth: underground roots called rhizomes

  • Additional: NOTE: Most northern lawns are a combination of Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass and fescue(s). For more information, see the details for each individual grass type.










Kentucky Bluegrass:

Kentucky Bluegrass is one of the most popular grasses in the North. It has a deep, green color and excellent texture. It grows well from seed, and is a popular choice for sod farms in the North. It grows from a very extensive system of rhizomes, underground stems that produce new plants. However, it does not grow well in deep shade.

  • Width: 1/8" wide

  • Tip/blade: V-shaped blade with a canoe pointed tip

  • Color: darker green than any other grass; same color on both sides

  • Feel: soft

  • Growth: aggressively through rhizomes

  • Additional: mows cleanly and won't "crush" easily; goes dormant during drought


Fine Fescue:

The name fine fescue is actually a "coverall" for the various species of grasses in this group: red, chewings, hard, and sheep. Like the name implies, they are very fine textured with needle-like blades. Fine fescues are popular because of their shade tolerance. However, they do not tolerate heat and dry conditions.

  • Width: 1/16" or less

  • Tip/blade: blade is "hair-like" with a fine tip

  • Color: dull, or gray-green color

  • Feel: very soft feel

  • Growth: grows fast

  • Additional: red or purplish colored base; crushes easily; does not tolerate drought












Ryegrass is easy to spot in a lawn due to its shine. Also, it leaves a "whitish" cast when mowed. It is a bunchgrass, which germinates quickly and is often found in grass seed mixtures with Kentucky bluegrass. It is primarily found in cool-season areas of the north, but may not survive as far north as Minnesota, Wisconsin or Canada.

  • Width: 1/8" wide

  • Tip/blade: pointed tip

  • Color: dark green, but lighter than bluegrass, and shiny on one side of the blade

  • Feel: soft

  • Growth: grows quickly from seed; a bunch-type grass that won't fill in naturally like bluegrass

  • Additional: has visible veins on the blade; shreds when mowed with a dull blade; broad collar; sheaths below ground are reddish in color










Bent grass:


Bentgrass can be found on most golf courses in the northern U.S. It can be mowed as low as 1/10" and makes an ideal surface for putting greens and fairways. Even when mowed very low, it forms a dense turf with a very fine-textured feel. The costs to maintain a home lawn of Bentgrass can be very costly due to its needs for fungicides, insecticides, fertilizer and expensive equipment needed to mow it. It also requires frequent watering - almost daily. Unlike other northern grasses, it grows by an extensive production of stolons.


  • Tip/blade: blades are narrow and flat

  • Feel: soft

  • Growth: low-mowing grass, often as low as 1/10"

  • Additional: Used on golf courses throughout the North.




















Zoysiagrass forms a lawn that feels like a thick, prickly carpet. Zoysia is found mostly in and from the middle part of the U.S. and east toward the Carolinas. It can be found in the north, but will turn brown once the weather turns cold. It is a very slow-growing grass, and it can take more than a year to establish a lawn of zoysiagrass. It has stiff leaf blades and will produce numerous seed heads if it isn't mowed.

  • Tip/blade: narrow, needle-like tip

  • Feel: prickly, stiff blades

  • Growth: slow growth

  • Additional: prickly feel when walked on barefoot; stolons are often covered with tan-colored "husks"



















Grass Recycling Tips 

Leave it on the Lawn
Grass Recycling
Lawn Care Waste Reduction Tips
How do you dispose of grass clippings after mowing the lawn? Do you...
Put them in the garbage?
Put them on the curb for collection?
Compost them?

Why not try to "Leave It On The Lawn!" It will:
Benefit the environment.
Improve your lawn.
Save time.
Save landfill space.
Why You Should "Leave It On The Lawn."

How do you dispose of grass
clippings after mowing the lawn?

Benefits the environment by reducing the amount and frequency of fertilizer application. Grass clippings are 80% water and contain 2- 4% nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients. This is also good for you (lower fertilizer costs).

Improves your lawn. Leaving grass clippings on the lawn returns nutrients to the soil resulting in healthier turf.

Saves time. Since the grass is no longer bagged, fewer stops are required.

Reduces the amount of garbage you throw out. Grass clippings can account for as much as 10% of the garbage we produce.

How To "Leave It On The Lawn"

Allow your grass to grow to three inches and then cut no more than one inch off the top. This is the "one-third" rule. This helps develop a deeper root system which is a natural defense against weeds, disease and drought.

During fast growing periods you may have to cut the grass every four to seven days

Common Questions

1. Do grass clippings cause thatch?

No. Thatch is an accumulation of the "woody" parts of the grass plant: stems, roots and stolons, not the clippings. Thatch is most often caused by over-watering and over-fertilizing.

2. Isn't it more work to mow the lawn often enough to keep the clippings short?

No. Cutting grass before it is overgrown is easier and faster. Eliminating the time and effort it takes to bag clippings further shortens the mowing time.

3. What if my lawn grows too high between mowings to leave the clippings?

You have several options. You may mow over the clippings to further shred and scatter them. You may raise the mower height so only the top third of the grass blade is removed and then gradually lower the mower height over the span of several mowings.

4. Do I need a mulching mower?

No. Mulching blades and adaptor kits are available for many types of lawn mowers. When it is time to replace your mower, consider purchasing an electric mulching mower.

Other Useful Lawn Information

Watering your lawn is best done in the early morning. An inch of water per week is sufficient for good root growth.

Fertilizing varies with soil types and growing conditions. The rule of thumb is 2 to 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn per year.

Test the soil to determine your fertilizer need and remember to adjust the pH of the soil to between 6.5 and 7.2. This will improve the efficiency of the nutrients.

Studies have shown that grass recycling reduces the need for fertilizer by 25%.

For Your Information

1/4 acre of lawn produces more than 1½ tons of clippings during the growing season!

The overall time spent on lawn care decreases with the elimination of bagging, even when mowing increases to once every four to seven days!

Do You Compost Yard Debris?

If you don't want to leave grass clippings on your lawn, try backyard composting. Composting your organic wastes in the backyard is simple and beneficial. There are many methods to backyard composting ranging from a simple pile to a purchased composting bin.

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