Best Grass Types for Allentown, PA

Laptop on a nice Allentown lawn

If you live in Allentown, you probably enjoy taking in the local minor leagues, amusement parks, and outdoor activities, but you’d probably enjoy them more if you knew you had a nice-looking lawn to come home to. Well, fret no more.

Here are four grass types that thrive in the Allentown area:
Tall Fescue
Tall fescue | Robert Gaskin | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

1. Turf-type tall fescue

If you have well-drained soils and at least partial sun, turf-type tall fescue is a grass to consider. This grass stays green longer than other species during droughts and works well as a single-species lawn, unlike most other cool-season species. 

Be sure you’re getting a turf-type variety and not an older variety, such as Kentucky-31. The improved turf-type cultivars have a darker color, are less coarse in texture, and most are enhanced with endophytes to reduce insect pressure.

Classification: Cool-season grass
Spreads by: Bunch-type grass
Shade tolerance: Partial shade
Drought tolerance: Moderate 
Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate, but low ability to recuperate from wear
Maintenance needs: Low to moderate
Mowing height: 2-4 inches
Potential for disease: Low to moderate
Other notes: Try to purchase a variety with endophytes. Endophytes help protect the grass from insect damage. For a low-maintenance fertilizer program, fertilize at 1-2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet annually.

Sheep Fescue - Fine Fescue
Sheep Fescue | Matt Lavin | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

2. Fine fescues

If you prefer a fine-leaved grass, consider the group of grasses known as the fine fescues. For home lawns, this group of grasses consists of chewings fescue, creeping red fescue, hard fescue, and sheep fescue. 

These grasses prefer well-drained, acidic soils and can tolerate infertile soils as well. Fine fescues work well in shady areas with low or no traffic and perform best in the cooler spring and fall seasons. You’ll often see fine fescues referred to as the “shade component” of sun/shade cool-season grass mixes.

Classification: Cool-season grass
Spreads by: Creeping red fescue forms short rhizomes. The others are bunch-type grasses.
Shade tolerance: Partial shade
Drought tolerance: Most have high drought tolerance, but it depends on the species.
Foot traffic tolerance: Low
Maintenance needs: Low to moderate 
Mowing height: 1.5-3 inches
Potential for disease: Low to moderate
Other notes: Choose endophyte-enhanced varieties. Endophytes are fungi that help guard against insect damage. Plan to dethatch fine fescues regularly, and know that these grasses may go semi-dormant during the summer months. Common diseases include leaf spot, dollar spot, and red thread. For a low-maintenance fertilizer program, fertilize at 1-2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet annually.

Kentucky Bluegrass Lawn
Lawnlove

3. Kentucky bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is a grass species prized for its beauty and ability to withstand cold temperatures. Its leaves are fine to medium in texture, and it produces a medium to dark green stand of grass as long as it is well fertilized.

Kentucky bluegrass is famous for its ability to recover from wear and thrives best in full sun. Buyer beware: This grass requires a high level of care to look its best, so this is not the grass for someone who wants a low-maintenance lawn. Kentucky bluegrass is often seeded in a mix with other cool-season grasses.

Classification: Cool-season grass
Spreads by: Rhizomes
Shade tolerance: Low
Drought tolerance: Moderate; will go dormant (brown) quickly during hot summers without irrigation; recovers quickly once cooler temps and watering resume
Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate, but its rhizomes (underground stems) give it an excellent ability to recover from wear
Maintenance needs: High
Mowing height: 2-3 inches
Potential for disease: Moderate to high; prone to several diseases, such as dollar spot, leaf spot, necrotic ring spot, summer patch, and stripe smut
Other notes: Kentucky bluegrass must have moist, fertile, well-drained soil and needs to be dethatched regularly. For a low-maintenance fertilizer program, fertilize at 2-3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet annually. Choose a cultivar that is disease-resistant to cut down on disease pressure.

Perennial Ryegrass
LawnLove

4. Perennial ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass is often included in grass mixes with Kentucky bluegrass and the fine fescues due to its lightning-fast germination rate (five to seven days). A fast cover for your lawn means fewer weeds and better erosion control while the other grasses germinate and establish themselves. Check the label, though. You’ll only want 20% or less as perennial ryegrass seed since it can become an aggressive force in your lawn.

Classification: Cool-season grass
Spreads by: Bunching-type grass
Shade tolerance: Low
Drought tolerance: Low    
Foot traffic tolerance: High, but won’t self-repair after wear; reseeding is necessary
Maintenance needs: Moderate to high
Mowing height: 2-3 inches
Potential for disease: High
Other notes: Choose endophyte-enhanced seeds to aid perennial ryegrass in resisting surface insects. Since gray leaf spot can be a significant issue, select cultivars that are resistant to this disease. For a low-maintenance fertilizer program, fertilize at 2-3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet annually.

Happy man waters his lawn
Gustavo Fring | Pexels

How to select the best grass type for your Allentown lawn

It’s important to know your lawn before you go out and grab a bag of seed. Here are a few questions to ask yourself: 

  • How much maintenance do you want to do (or hire out)?

Fine and turf-type tall fescues are lower maintenance while Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass will require more time and money.

  • What kind of sun/shade do you have on the lawn?

Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass thrive in the sun. If you have partial shade, consider turf-type tall fescue or find a mix that includes fine fescues.

  • Does your area suffer from drought, especially in the summer?

Turf-type tall fescues and fine fescues do well in drought, but Kentucky bluegrass gets top marks for being able to recover once temps drop and rains resume.

  • What level of foot traffic does your lawn have (people or pets)?

Perennial ryegrass and turf-type tall fescue get high marks for resisting wear, but once the damage is done, Kentucky bluegrass is the only grass on this list that will recover on its own.

If you’d rather spend the growing season cheering on Allentown’s minor leagues, contact one of our Allentown lawn care pros to get your lawn ready for the big leagues. 

Main photo credit: Picography | Pixabay

Sarah Bahr

Sarah is a writer who has previously worked in the lawn care industry. In her spare time, she likes to garden, raise chickens, and mow the grass with her battery-powered lawn mower.