5 Best Grass Types for Cincinnati Lawns

Cincinnati skyline at night

What’s the best grass type for your Cincinnati lawn? With cold, snowy winters and hot, rainy summers, “The Queen City” needs turf types that can stand up to the climate. 

Cool-season grasses are best adapted to the freezing temperatures and wide fluctuations between seasons. These grasses grow most actively in the spring and fall when the weather is cooler. 

Five cool-season grass types work best for Cincinnati yards. 

  • Perennial ryegrass 
  • Tall fescue
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Fine fescue
  • Bentgrass

All these grasses thrive in Ohio’s climate. However, some might be more suited to your yard and lifestyle than others. Read on to find which grass is the best for your next big outdoor cookout. 

1. Perennial ryegrass

This turf distinguishes itself with rapid germination and fast early growth. Its quick establishment makes perennial ryegrass ideal for overseeding. This grass type also stands up well to high foot traffic. 

Dark green in color, perennial ryegrass grows best in well-draining soil. It prefers high nutrient conditions and regular watering. While generally disease resistant, this grass can catch turf ailments like dollar spot, red thread, and rust. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type
  • Shade Tolerance: Low – this grass type likes a lot of sun. 
  • Drought Tolerance: Moderate – this grass likes water, but can revive itself quickly after a dry spell. 
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: High
  • Maintenance Needs: Moderate – this grass prefers nutrient-rich soil. 
  • Mowing Height: 1.5 to 2.5 inches
  • Potential for Disease: Moderate – vulnerable to dollar spot, red thread, and rust
  • Other Notes: Perennial ryegrass can be susceptible to ice cover injuries, as well. 

Grass Seed Options:
Outsidepride Perennial Ryegrass Seed (5 lbs.)
Eretz ProTurf Perennial Ryegrass Fine Lawn Seed (choose your size)

2. Tall fescue

Tall fescue has a coarse texture and is medium to dark green. This grass type is ideal for anyone who hates yard work. This low-maintenance turf thrives in sandy, low-nutrient soil and needs little watering. 

Its high heat tolerance can come in handy during summer months. Tall fescue has some shade tolerance but prefers direct sunlight. 

The biggest drawback is foot traffic. Tall fescue typically struggles to repair itself and can develop bald patches. We don’t recommend this grass for anyone who has kids or pets. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type
  • Shade Tolerance: Moderate
  • Drought Tolerance: High
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: Low
  • Maintenance Needs: Low – this grass thrives in sandy soil without a lot of watering
  • Mowing Height: 3.5 to 4 inches 
  • Potential for Disease: Moderate – if over-watered or over-fertilized, this grass becomes more susceptible to blights and ailments
  • Other Notes: You can get a few different varieties of tall fescue. You’ll want to get a “turf type” tall fescue, which does better on lawns. 

Grass Seed Options:
Triple-Play Tall Fescue Grass Seed Blend (5000 sq ft)
Eretz Kentucky 31 K31 Tall Fescue Grass Seed (choose your size)
Pennington The Rebels Tall Fescue Grass Seed Mix (7 lb.)

3. Kentucky bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is one of the most popular turf varieties in Ohio. This grass repairs itself well in the face of foot traffic, making it the ideal choice for anyone with pets, kids, or regular outdoor parties. 

Kentucky bluegrass is emerald to dark green in color. This grass prefers to be frequently mowed, watered, and fertilized. We recommend this for someone who doesn’t mind spending time or money on their lawn. 

This turf also prefers direct sunlight. If your lawn doesn’t get a lot of daylight, you may want to consider something else. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type
  • Shade Tolerance: Moderate – prefers direct sunlight 
  • Drought Tolerance: Moderate – dead patches can regrow quickly, but this grass type needs irrigation. 
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: One of the highest
  • Maintenance Needs: High – this grass type needs to be fertilized  
  • Mowing Height: 2.5 to 3 inches
  • Potential for Disease: Moderate – this turf can catch several grass diseases, including dollar spot, stripe smut, and necrotic ring. 
  • Other Notes: Kentucky bluegrass seed can be slow going if you’re trying to start a new lawn. We recommend getting sod.  

Grass Seed Options:
Jonathan Green (11970) Blue Panther Kentucky Bluegrass Grass Seed (3 lbs.)
SeedRanch Midnight Kentucky Bluegrass Seed (5 lbs.)
– Jacklin Seed – Biltmore Blue Blend – 100% Kentucky Bluegrass (5 lbs.)

4. Fine fescue

Fine fescue is named for its thin grass blades, which create a fine appearance and soft feel. The color ranges from medium to blue-green. 

This grass type is ideal for anyone who has large trees or buildings shading their yard. Fine fescue does well with limited sun. This grass is relatively low maintenance and a good pick for anyone forgetful or indifferent to lawn care. 

As its name might suggest, fine fescues are delicate. These grasses break down easily and might struggle to regrow after heavy usage. If you plan on hosting a kickball league, you might want something more durable. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type
  • Shade Tolerance: High 
  • Drought Tolerance: High – these grasses can do well with little watering. 
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: Low to moderate
  • Maintenance Needs: Low – you’ll find fine fescues do well with minimal care.
  • Mowing Height: 1 to 3 inches
  • Potential for Disease: Higher – fine fescues are vulnerable to snow mold and other diseases.
  • Other Notes: Fine fescues come in several varieties: chewings, creeping red, hard fescue, and sheep. 

Grass Seed Options:
Outsidepride Legacy Fine Fescue Grass Seed (5 lbs.)
Eretz Creeping Red Fine Fescue Seed (choose your size)
Outsidepride Creeping Red Fine Fescue Grass Seed (25 lbs.)
Outsidepride Hard Fine Fescue Grass Seed (10 lbs.)

5. Bentgrass

This turf is typically used in golf courses, athletic fields, and other commercial properties. The extremely high maintenance needs are sometimes a bit much for homeowners and small yards. But if you’re willing to put in the work, this grass type will give you a beautiful lawn.

The biggest advantage to bentgrass is that it can withstand extremely short mowing heights. If you want to give your lawn a crew cut, this might be your grass. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons 
  • Shade Tolerance: Moderate
  • Drought Tolerance: Low
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: High
  • Maintenance Needs: Very high – you’ll need to be ready to regularly water, mow, fertilize, dethatch, and aerate. 
  • Mowing Height: 0.75 to 1.5 inches
  • Potential for Disease: Moderate – this grass is susceptible to fungal problems like fairy rings, fungal spots, and other blights. 
  • Other Notes: This turf type can form a thatch mat above the soil. Bentgrass does best with regular dethatching and aeration.  

How to choose the best grass type for your Cincinnati lawn

While any of these turf-types will survive in Cincinnati, there are several key factors in determining which would be best for your lawn:

  • Does your lawn get a lot of traffic?
    • If so, you’ll want something that regrows quickly such as Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass.
  • How sunny is your property?
    • Shady yard owners might want to go with a fine fescue. Sunnier lawns would do great with perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass. 
  • How much time and energy do you want to spend on your lawn?
    • Tall fescue is low maintenance, while bentgrass takes some work.
  • What are your soil conditions?
    • Fertile soil supports Kentucky bluegrass. If you have sandy, low-nutrient soil, consider a tall fescue. 

When should I plant grass seed in Cincinnati?

Cincinnati homeowners should plant grass in September, or by mid-October at the latest. Cool-season grasses like those on our list tend to germinate better when they can avoid the intense heat of the summer. 

We don’t recommend planting grass in the springtime. However, if you miss the fall planting season and need a new lawn by summer, consider planting grass in late winter or early spring. You might want to plant a grass with a higher hot-weather tolerance, like tall fescue. 

If you’d like someone to handle the hassle of yard work for you, Lawn Love will be more than happy to help. A Cincinnati lawn care pro can provide landscape design, installation, and maintenance for your yard.  

Main Photo Credit: Dave Morgan | Pexels

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Cory Ferrer

Cory Ferrer is a Lawn Love growth writer with a background in communication, creative writing, and education. He spends his free time exploring Denver, riding his mountain bike, and browsing used bookstores.