Grass aesthetically magnifies the outlook of a plain-looking bare ground. For instance, your front or back lawn can consist of a single type of grass or multiple species.
On the other hand, commercial and some recreational areas, i.e., golf courses, fairways, sports fields, and ordinary lawns, have a grassy layout to provide a smooth finishing.
Grass species can be classified into warm-season or cool-season species. Cool-season grasses are typically planted during fall and early winter.
In this article, we shall look at the 10 best winter tolerant grass species.
How To Choose a Winter Grass Species For Your Lawn
Settling for a particular grass species is predetermined by a couple of factors. For your grass to sprout healthily and provide the desired outlook you have to consider two crucial factors;
When choosing grass species, the local climatic conditions must be taken into consideration. For example, bentgrasses have good tolerance to ice and other physical stresses but are vulnerable to snow molds.
On the other hand, the fine fescues are less resistant to suffocation, but will better resist winter diseases.
When coming up with specific types of winter grass species to venture into, consider your geographical location to make it easier to determine the appropriate selection.
Note that environmental and soil conditions differ all over the world. For instance, certain turfgrasses grow better in some locations than others. There are several turfgrass species and subspecies of each species from which a selection can be made.
Some turfgrasses can be planted across the whole region, while others perform best in specific geographical areas.
Geographic areas are usually entitled as zones in line with a temperature range.
Also See: Best No-Mow Grass Types
Species Of Grasses That Grow In Winter
The following are the best types of grasses that grow and do well in the cold season;
Bluegrass has been popular in America since colonial times. It is speculated that the species was first introduced into the country with the Europeans. After years of research and mix-breeding, Kentucky Bluegrass was born.
Kentucky bluegrass, also known as (Poa pratensis), is a smoothly textured, dark-green grass. This species flourishes in winter and is partially shade-tolerant and thrives well in the sun.
Even though Kentucky Bluegrass usually forms a sod that makes it suitable for all-year-round lawn purposes, the grass is often dominant during hot weather. The grass is customarily planted during fall from September to November, and in winter from December to February.
You can plant it on your lawn, sports field, golf course, and many other places.
Improved Tall Fescue
The Improved Tall Fescue (Festuca arundinacea) variety has delicate leaves compared to other old broad-leaved species. This particular species grows into a turf, making it ideal for lawns and children’s playgrounds. It is also less prone to pests and diseases, thus increasing its chances of survival.
Tall Fescue is naturally a cold season grass that was improved to withstand heat. The best time to plant this species is in fall just before winter. It helps you prepare your lawn for the cold season ahead.
Over the years, several Improved Tall Fescue varieties have been developed. However, the two best types of Improved Tall Fescue brands recommended by the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program include ‘2nd Millennium’ and ‘Cayenne.’
The species is suitable for Northern areas and transition zones.
Even though Perennial Ryegrass isn’t the number one grass species for winter, it serves well when planted just before winter comes to an end. In other words, it’s perfect for re-establishing greens after winter has passed.
The genetic variations in winter survival among the many varieties of ryegrass are relatively small. It will take some time to produce types that can be classified as winter tolerant and acceptable playing quality.
Tetraploid ryegrasses are more resistant to snow molds. They can be used on fairways, tees, and roughs.
Velvet Bentgrass (Agrostis Canina) has been tested severally on its winter hardiness. If you’ve ever been to a golf course, you came across and even stepped on this grass.
The species belongs to the perennial grass species mostly grown in Europe. This is because it has prostate growth patterns and is generally dense in nature.
Velvet bentgrass has been scientifically tested, and it emerged as one of the few species with high winter stress endurance. However, it may be sensitive to diseases like M.nivale when it’s growing.
On the bright side, it usually resists snow molds, notably better than other bentgrass, i.e., the creeping bentgrass when it adapts well.
Chewings Red Fescue
This is a fine leafed, tufted grass. It often remains dark green throughout most of the winter season. The difference it has from creeping red fescue is the lack of creeping rhizomes.
This subspecies of chewings red fescue is rated higher in enduring winter periods as compared to creeping bentgrass.
Its leading advantage is based on its high tolerance to snow molds.
Prostrate meadow has been tested a couple of times in the market. Surprisingly enough, it is classified as one of the highly winter tolerant species of grass.
Some of its distinctive characteristics include thin stems and blue-green leaves.
Creeping Bentgrass (Agrostis palustris) is classified among perennial cool-season bentgrasses. Just like other bentgrasses, it is commonly used in golf courses. This is because of its nature of forming a heavy mat-like smooth texture, making it suitable for golfing areas.
The grass is well known for its excellent winter survival rates. On the downside, most of its varieties are prone to snow molds. This means that fungicides have to be your best friend if you want to be on the safe side.
On the positive side, creeping bentgrass has excellent freezing tolerance. It can also withstand asphyxiation when covered with ice for a long time. However, its endurance does not beat that of Agrostis Canina(velvet grass).
Colonial bentgrass is straight, smoothly textured perennial turfgrass that has a mid-green leaf blade. Browntop bentgrass can endure a variety of cutting heights to suit a golf or bowling green. This species is commonly used in seed mixes to improve grass density when in temperate regions.
The Norwegian varieties, specifically the ‘Nor’ and ‘Leirin’ of Browntop bent, have an excellent tolerance for winter hardiness.
As the name suggests, colonial bentgrass was initiated in the colonial days. It was, however, launched as a pasture grass used in making hay. In the current day and age, Browntop is carefully cut to form a smooth textured turf that is popularly used in bowling and golf courses.
In other aspects, many brown top varieties available on the global market cannot withstand extremely low weather conditions. Also, they are prone to pink snow molds as compared to creeping bentgrass. However, they are highly tolerant of shade.
Rough Meadow Grass
Rough meadow grass is slightly tufted or single-stemmed grass from 20 to 60cm. It does not have rhizomes. Instead, it has leafy stolons. It has leaf sheaths of flowering stems that are very rough.
This type of grass is mostly seen from May to July.
The species has been used by Scandinavian greenkeepers to bring into existence extinct poa greens.
This grass species is indigenous and has continued to prove its essence as a weed of herbage seed crops and winter cereals.
The different types of rough meadow grass in the market were made for among other uses winter plays and overseeding.
Annual Meadow Grass
Annual meadow-grass (Poa annua) is a widespread species. The species fall under the yearly category. In some instances, it is classified as a biennial or even as perennial grass characterized by shallow roots.
The grass is commonly found in gardens, grasslands, trackways, lawns, etc. It is one of the oldest species in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom. This doesn’t mean it will not do well on American soil.
When it grows, the youngest lift sprouts in a cute folded shape. The bottom side of the leaf usually has a pale-green color.
Annual Meadows withers in acid soils or areas that have low phosphate. The grass can only withstand water logging during a specific time. To make the grass last better, improve its water holding capacity in the soil.
Since this species is highly sensitive to drought conditions, it is, therefore, shade-tolerant making it best for winter. If you have children, Annual Meadow Grass is ideal for your lawn since it can withstand a fair share of trampling.
Only a small portion of commercialized annual meadow grass species has been tried in winter countries. Nevertheless, this grass species has poor endurance due to suffocation by ice, pink snows, and winter stress.
The best species of annual meadow grass have a higher winter endurance than the best varieties of perennial ryegrass.
In conclusion, when selecting cool-season grass species, carefully research all the species adapted to your particular region. Identify your specific location to note particular growing conditions on the site. Finally, pair up your growing conditions and intended cool-season grass species.
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