Some people would like to believe in the existence of a lawn grass that requires NO maintenance — no water, no mowing, no fertilizer. No such grass exists, despite come-on ads in magazines and Sunday newspaper supplements. A thick, green lawn in Colorado requires proper mowing and timely applications of water and fertilizer. A nice lawn doesn’t just “happen.”
Before starting a new lawn or renovating an old one, several factors should be considered. First, what will the lawn’s use be? Is it strictly for looks or will it be played on frequently by children and/or pets? What is the desired quality level? Will the lawn receive high or minimal levels of maintenance? Is good quality, inexpensive water available? Is the soil sandy or clay-like, and does it drain well? Is the lawn site sunny or shady? If sunny, will tree growth later make the area more shady? What is the elevation? For example, buffalograss is limited by altitude (6500 ft. or less). Is it important that the lawn remains green most of the year, or are extended periods of lawn dormancy and brown appearance acceptable? Is there any history of pest problems such as Necrotic ring spot? Is sod available or will the lawn need to be seeded? Your answers to these questions will help determine the most suitable lawn grass species for your situation.
Kentucky bluegrass is a good choice for many situations and uses. It’s the most widely used lawn grass in Colorado. Local growers produce high-quality bluegrass sod. If you want to seed a bluegrass lawn, it is best to sow a blend of two to five Kentucky bluegrass cultivars in late August to early September.
For other situations, different grasses may work better. Other grasses that generally work well for Colorado lawns are buffalo grass, blue grama, turf-type tall fescue, fine-bladed fescues such as hard, red, chewings or sheep, perennial ryegrass and crested wheatgrass.
No grass species is perfect for all situations and uses. Selecting the proper grass for the lawn’s intended use and for the site is the first step toward creating a quality lawn. The second step involves proper management and culture of the grass you choose.
For more information, see the following Colorado State Extension fact sheet(s).