3 Best Grass Types for Baltimore

Baltimore, MD skyline and riverfront view

If you wish your lawn looked like Camden Yards, we’ve got three turf options that are perfect for Baltimore lawns:  

  • Turf-type tall fescue
  • Kentucky bluegrass 
  • Fine fescues

Here are a couple reasons why these are the best grass types for your lawn:

  1. These are cool-season grasses, which work well in the northern transition zone.
  2. These grasses have different growing needs and levels of maintenance, so you can choose the grass type that fits you and your lawn best.

Which grass is best for my Baltimore lawn?

We’ll consider three cool-season grass types that are best for Baltimore lawns:

1. Turf-type tall fescue

Turf-type tall fescue (TTTF) is suited for most lawns in Maryland. TTTF has a host of characteristics to make it thrive.  

  • Suited for full sun and some shade 
  • Can be planted via seed or sod 
  • Seed germinates within 1-2 weeks 
  • It’s more disease- and insect-resistant compared to other turfgrasses in the state 

This grass prefers well-drained soil and is very tolerant of foot traffic. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: These are bunching grasses, but a few varieties have rhizomes
  • Shade tolerance: Moderate
  • Drought tolerance: High
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High
  • Maintenance needs: Low to moderate; plan on 2-4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. per year
  • Recommended mowing height: 2-3 inches or taller in summer

2. Kentucky bluegrass

If you’re a baseball fan, you’re familiar with Kentucky bluegrass turf. This turf will look a little different on a home lawn than in Camden Yards, but it can still have that “classic lawn” look. Kentucky bluegrass is famous for its fine-to-medium leaf width and medium-dark color. 

A beautiful sports turf (or lawn) comes at a price. Kentucky bluegrass is a high-maintenance turf. It has a high possibility of disease and insect issues and prefers well-drained soil. This grass prefers full sun and requires regular fertilization and dethatching every few years.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Rhizomes
  • Shade tolerance: Low
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate to high*
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate
  • Maintenance needs: *Kentucky bluegrass does go dormant quickly during summer droughts, but its rhizomes allow for a quick recovery as soon as regular watering resumes. It prefers 3-4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year. This helps prevent common diseases and fungi. 
  • Recommended mowing height: 1.5-2.5 inches

3. Fine fescues

Fine fescues are often included in grass mixes for lawns with part shade. The fine fescues can handle some shade but do not stand up well to foot traffic. Plant fine fescues in well-drained soil, and don’t worry about mowing them when the lawn is stressed due to heat or drought. Fine fescue seeds take 1-2 weeks to germinate and may require dethatching every few years.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Fine fescues are bunching grasses except for creeping red fescue. This variety has short rhizomes.
  • Shade tolerance: Moderate
  • Drought tolerance: High
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low
  • Maintenance needs: 1-2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year
  • Recommended mowing height: 1.5-2.5 inches or taller

How to select the best grass type for your Baltimore lawn

Before you buy new sod or grass seed, consider the conditions in your lawn:

  • How much traffic will your lawn receive?
    • If your lawn gets as much use as Camden Yards, turf-type tall fescue is your best bet. Fine fescues prefer little to no traffic.
  • Does your lawn get full sun, or do you have areas with partial shade?
    • Turf-type tall fescue and fine fescues tolerate some shade. Kentucky bluegrass needs full sun.
  • How much maintenance do you want to do? 
    • Keep in mind: Camden Yards has a crew of workers who maintain its Kentucky bluegrass turf. Kentucky bluegrass needs the highest level of care while turf-type tall fescue and fine fescues need relatively little in comparison.
  • Is your area subject to watering restrictions? 
    • All three of these grass types have good or very good drought tolerance.

If you want a lawn that Baltimore’s Sultan of Swat would crow over, hire one of our Baltimore lawn care professionals to plant, mow, and make your lawn look like it belongs in the big leagues. 

Main Photo Credit: Julen Iturbe-Ormaetxe | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

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.