The best grass seed choice for most Iowa lawns are cool season grasses. Cool season grasses do well in the spring and fall when temperatures are moderate. Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue and tall fescue are the four cool season grasses usually used in Iowa.
Kentucky bluegrass is the grass found in most Iowa lawns. It is well adapted for Iowa conditions. It tolerates full sun and partial shade allowing it to form a dense turf under varying conditions. It tolerates medium to high traffic and the underground rhizomes give it the ability to self-repair worn or damaged areas. It competes well with weeds and has good tolerance of diseases and cold winter temperatures.
Perennial ryegrass can withstand high traffic, but has poor tolerance for diseases and cold temperatures. Use caution in using it in Northern Iowa. Perennial ryegrass is a bunch grass (lacking any solons or rhizomes) and is slow to recover from damage.
Fine leaf fescues
Fine fescues are known for their low water and fertility needs and for their ability to tolerate shady areas. They are often mixed with Kentucky bluegrass and/or perennial ryegrass in areas that receive both sun and shade. They have poor ability to handle heat, wet soils, or traffic.
Turf Type Tall Fescue
Turf type tall fescues are new improved varieties that are finer in texture and more aesthetically pleasing. It is known for its ability to handle heavy traffic, hot temperatures and drought. It can also tolerate partial shade. It is a bunch grass (lacking stolons or rhizomes) so damaged areas are slow to recover and may need to be reseeded.
Varieties to use under varying conditions
Lawns receiving minimum shade
Use a 100 percent mixture of improved varieties of Kentucky bluegrass for lawns that receive full sun. Because Kentucky bluegrass is slow to establish from seed, it is often sold in a mixture that includes 10 to 20 percent perennial ryegrass to help speed establishment.
Lawns receiving sun and shade
Use a mixture of Kentucky bluegrass (80 per cent) and perennial ryegrass (10 percent), and fine fescue (10 percent). Kentucky bluegrass will dominate in full sun areas, perennial ryegrass will provide quick cover and will grow in both sun and shade, and the fine fescues will thrive in the shaded portions of the lawn.
Difficult shade areas where other grasses have failed
Use 100 percent fine fescue. If fine fescue fails to grow, substitute shrub, ground covers, or mulch.
Repairing damaged areas
Use 100 percent perennial ryegrass or overseed using a mixture of grasses that will tolerate the site characteristics. Areas of the lawn that have less than 60 percent grass cover can be renovated by overseeding.
Heat and drought areas
Use a mixture of turf type tall fescue (95 percent) and Kentucky bluegrass (5 percent). Turf type tall fescue can tolerate poor growing conditions while the Kentucky bluegrass will help provide a uniform lawn cover.
So, if you don’t have the time to care for your lawn, the best thing for you to do is to hire lawn care experts who can maintain the beauty and health of your lawn. For questions you can call our hotline at 1-800-365-8873.