4 Best Grass Types for Buffalo

house with nice front lawn in Buffalo, Ny

It’s hard to compete with the beauty of Niagara Falls or the Erie Basin Marina, but a healthy lawn is sure to make your Buffalo backyard stand out. In the City of Good Neighbors, you want your outdoor space to be a place where friends and family can gather. A great grass can turn your landscape into a paradise.

The best grass types to grow in Buffalo are:

Tall Fescue
Tall fescue | Ty Haller | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

1. Tall fescue

Are you the go-to house for backyard barbeques and birthday parties? Tall fescue is a hardy grass that tolerates wear and tear. It prefers direct sunlight, but can tolerate a range of sun conditions. 

This grass has moderate to coarse blades with a medium to dark green color. It forms in bunches that need frequent mowing, but be careful to never remove more than one-third of the plant. It doesn’t like a close cut.

Classification: Cool-season grass
Spreads by: Bunch-type grass
Shade tolerance: Moderate
Drought resistance: Moderate
Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate, but low ability to recuperate from wear
Maintenance needs: Fast rate of growth, so plan to mow often
Mowing height: 2-4 inches (Check your cultivar and state recommendations. Many tall fescue lawns grow best when they’re mowed on the tall side.)
Potential for disease: Low to moderate under proper management conditions
Soil pH: 5.5-6.5
Soil type: Fertile, good drainage, but will tolerate a wider range of soil conditions
Other notes: If you see brown patch, it’s important to closely monitor your nitrogen fertilization and watering schedule. Improving drainage and air movement (dethatching helps) is more effective than fungicide.

Perennial Ryegrass
Perennial ryegras | Lawn Love

2. Perennial ryegrass

Think of perennial ryegrass as your turf’s trusty sidekick. This pale green grass does best mixed in with other types like Kentucky bluegrass. Perennial ryegrass is often used for overseeding bare or sparse patches in your lawn because it germinates very quickly.

If you’re overseeding, fall is the best time (spring being the second best time). Be sure to give your lawn a good mow and rake the clippings before seeding. If you’ve got a lot of thatch buildup, you’ll need to dethatch with a rake or power rake. That way, seeds are sure to make contact with the ground.

Classification: Cool-season grass
Spreads by: Bunch-type grass
Shade tolerance: Low; prefers sunny areas
Drought tolerance: Low; it’s shallow root system makes it less tolerant of drought and heat
Foot traffic tolerance: High
Maintenance needs: Low
Mowing height: 2-3 inches>
Potential for disease: High, especially in areas with hot, humid summers
Soil pH: 5.5-7.5
Other notes: After seeding, you can expect a mowable lawn in as few as 21 days 

Kentucky Bluegrass Lawn
Kentucky bluegrass | Lawn Love

3. Kentucky bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is a star among turf grasses due to its attractive, durable lawn. It has a medium to fine texture with a lush, emerald to blue-green color. 

Be warned, though, beauty takes work. Kentucky bluegrass is winter hardy and tolerates drought, but it requires more water due to its shallow root system. In its first year, it needs up to 6 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. After that, 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet should be sufficient. 

Classification: Cool-season grass
Spreads by: Rhizomes
Shade tolerance: Moderate; prefers at least four hours of direct sunlight
Drought tolerance: Moderate
Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate
Maintenance needs: High; requires water and fertilization or growth will be stunted
Mowing height: 2-3 inches
Potential for disease: Moderate to high
Soil pH: Between 6.5 and 7.2
Other notes: Make sure not to mow too low to help prevent disease and weeds

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

4. Fine fescue

This grass sports a bright green color and has the finest texture of all cool-season grasses. It’s a great option for a low-maintenance lawn as long as you don’t get too much foot traffic.

Fine fescue is a group of five different fine fescue grasses: Chewings fescue, hard fescue, sheep fescue, slender creeping red fescue, and strong creeping red fescue.

Unlike Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue tolerates infertile soil and doesn’t need very much nitrogen. Heavy fertilization can actually cause more harm than good. Red thread and thatch can become an issue, so be sure to follow proper protocols for fertilization.

Classification: Cool-season grass
Spreads by: Bunch-type grasses with one exception: creeping red fescues possess rhizomes
Shade tolerance: Moderate to high
Drought resistance: Moderate to high
Foot traffic tolerance: Low to moderate
Maintenance needs: Low mowing frequency
Mowing height: 1.5-3 inches
Potential for disease: Moderate
Soil pH: 5.5-6.5
Soil type: Good drainage is a must; tolerates infertile soils; sandy soils generally work well
Other notes: This grass likes good drainage. You can top your soil with a layer of sand to ensure it doesn’t get too much water.

Man reads book as he lays with his back on the grass
Wokandapix | Pixabay

How to choose the best grass type for your Buffalo lawn

All of the grass types discussed can do well in your New York landscape, but thinking about your yard’s particular qualities will help narrow down your choice:

  • How much shade does your yard get?
    • Fine fescue will do just fine under trees and patios.
  • How much sun does your yard get?
    • Tall fescue and perennial ryegrass like direct sunlight.
  • Is a lush lawn important to you?
    • Kentucky bluegrass makes for a dense, richly colored yard.
  • Do you have less time for maintenance?
    • Fine fescue and tall fescue are lower-maintenance grasses.

When to plant grass seed in Buffalo

In New York, it’s best to plant grass seed in early fall around August to mid-September. Cool-season grasses should be planted when soil temperatures are between 50 and 65 degrees (which roughly equals 60 to 75 degree air temperatures). This gives them a chance to germinate and grow deeper roots before winter arrives. 

After winter, it’s a good idea to get a soil test to see what your pH and fertilizer needs are. You can make any amendments as well as apply pre-emergent herbicides to stop weeds at the source. 

Remember, your lawn will let you know when it needs some TLC. Proactive measures like proper mowing, herbicide and fertilizer application, and aeration are great, but paying close attention to changes in your grass is just as important for a healthy lawn.

Like the idea of a lush lawn but need a hand maintaining it? Contact a professional landscaper in the Buffalo area.

Main photo credit: Lori L. Stalteri | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Rachel Abrams

Born and raised in Gainesville, Florida, Rachel Abrams studied creative writing at the University of Virginia. She enjoys volunteering at her neighborhood community garden and growing herbs in her New York City apartment.