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Grass Lands: Picking the Right Lawn for Your Location

by Kate McIntyre, All About Lawns Columnist

In the course of your home renovation, you've tackled some tough projects. You have refinished floors, repaired cracked plaster, and patched up outdated plumbing. Now you have a new challenge: your front yard. Lawns offer a clean, crisp backdrop for your home, and your yard should be just as beautiful as the rest of your house. You would never use spray paint to cover the interior walls of your home. Similarly, you should never plant zoysia grass in your yard if you live in Northern Michigan. To get your lawn started right, you need to pick the right grass for your climate.

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  • Eliminate patches
  • Less weeds
  • Make it thicker
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Warm or Cool Season Lawns?

Grass varieties can be divided into two main categories: warm season and cool season. Warm season lawns are much better at tolerating high temperatures, while cool season lawns can withstand colder temperatures in the winter.

Warm Season Lawn Varieties

Bermuda grass
Zoysia grass
St. Augustine grass
Buffalo grass
Centipede grass

Cool Season Lawn Varieties

Rye Grass

Find Your Lawn's Zone

To find out which type of grass is right for your lawn, you should consult the USDA's plant hardiness zone map. Each region of the country is put into a zone based on its annual minimum temperatures. The zones are numbered one through eleven, running roughly from north to south. Zone one, which includes Alaska and parts of Canada, has the coldest average minimum temperatures, and zone eleven, which includes Hawaii, has the highest. If you live in zones one through five, you should plan on a cool season lawn. Zones eight through eleven require warm season grass varieties.

Zones six and seven are tricky because they fall in between the ideal temperatures for warm and cool season grasses. If you live in these zones, you should consider planting a blend of warm and cool season grass. This mix provides a happy medium, so that even in this transitional area, you can grow a brilliant green lawn.

About the Author
Kate McIntyre is a writer in Portland, Oregon. She holds a B.A. from Harvard University and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Oregon State University.

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