4 Best Grass Types for Columbus Lawns

Downtown Columbus, Ohio buildings lit up at dusk

Want your lawn to look as lush and green as Ohio Stadium or Goodale Park? Then you will want to plant one of these four best grass types for Columbus lawns: 

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

The Arch City is known for its cold winters and wide seasonal fluctuations in temperature, so winter-hardy cool season grasses are your best bet as they can survive the ice and snow. All four of the best grass types for Columbus lawns are cool-season turfs.

1. Fine fescues

Ranging from medium to blue-green in color, fine fescues have a soft appearance and feel. These thin-bladed grasses are popular due to their relatively low maintenance needs. Fine fescues grow well in acidic soil and don’t need constant watering.  

Fine fescues also thrive in the shade. We recommend this turf type to anyone whose yard is covered by large trees or in the shadow of buildings. 

No grass is perfect. Fine fescue can’t tolerate heavy foot traffic. If you regularly enjoy letting dogs or small children tear up your lawn, you should choose another grass type.  

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type
  • Shade Tolerance: High 
  • Drought Tolerance: High 
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: Low
  • Maintenance Needs: Low
  • Mowing Height: 1-3 inches
  • Potential for Disease: Higher 

Other Notes: Fine fescue is often mixed with other grasses to increase shade tolerance. You can always consider a blend of grasses for your lawn. 

2. Kentucky bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is one of the most popular lawn grasses in the northern United States. This turf regrows quickly when torn up and is a favorite for athletic fields. Contrary to its name, the Kentucky bluegrass is actually a deep emerald green. If you allow it to grow to its natural height (2 to 3 feet), it produces blue flower heads. 

Kentucky bluegrass can be slow to establish itself. If you decide to plant Kentucky bluegrass seed, be prepared to battle some weeds. Crabgrass can be highly competitive with Kentucky bluegrass when it’s just getting started. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type
  • Shade Tolerance: Moderate
  • Drought Tolerance: Moderate
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: Excellent
  • Maintenance Needs: High 
  • Mowing Height: 2.5-3 inches
  • Potential for Disease: Moderate; common Kentucky bluegrass lawn diseases include dollar spot, stripe smut, and necrotic ring. 

Other Notes: We recommend you use Kentucky bluegrass sod for new lawns. This turf stays strong once established, but getting there can be a project. 

3. Perennial ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass is another turf popular for its high tolerance to foot traffic. This grass establishes itself very quickly, making it ideal for overseeding

This dark green grass prefers nutrient-rich soil with regular fertilization. Perennial ryegrass grows best with frequent watering and in well-draining soil. Perennial ryegrass can be a little more high maintenance, so we recommend it to people who don’t mind yard work or are willing to hire a lawn care pro

Perennial ryegrass is susceptible to common grass diseases: brown patch, pythium, red thread, dollar spot, and rust. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type
  • Shade Tolerance: Low
  • Drought Tolerance: Moderate
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: High 
  • Maintenance Needs: High
  • Mowing Height: 1.5-2.5 inches
  • Potential for Disease: Moderate

Other Notes: Perennial ryegrass can be vulnerable to ice cover injuries.

4. Tall fescue

Looking for a low-maintenance lawn? Tall fescue might be your turf. This grass grows well in low-nutrient soil and can thrive without constant watering. 

Tall fescue was originally bred from grasses for foraging livestock. It has a coarse texture and is dark to medium green. Tall fescue does best in direct sunlight. Since tall fescue can be slow to repair itself, we don’t recommend it for high-traffic lawns. Tall fescue can sometimes develop bald patches and may need overseeding. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type
  • Shade Tolerance: Moderate
  • Drought Tolerance: High
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: Low
  • Maintenance Needs: Low 
  • Mowing Height: 3.5-4 inches 
  • Potential for Disease: Moderate

Other Notes: Make sure to plant a “turf type” tall fescue. Other breeds aren’t intended for lawns. 

How to choose the best grass type for your Columbus lawn

Few people have a lawn maintenance crew the size of Ohio State University’s or the city’s park system to keep their lawn green. If constant mowing and watering is more of a chore than a hobby, you may opt for a lower maintenance grass type.

Here are four key considerations to keep in mind when picking out the right grass for your lawn. 

  • What’s your soil type?
    • Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass thrive in fertile soil. For sandier, low nutrient soil, consider tall fescue.  
  • How much sunlight does your yard typically receive?
    • Fine fescue does well in the shade. Kentucky bluegrass or perennial ryegrass do best in sunny lawns.  
  • How much yard work are you ready to take on?  
    • If you don’t mind yard work, then Kentucky bluegrass would be perfect. If you want grass that will thrive without much effort, consider tall fescue. 
  • How much do you use your lawn? 
    • If your backyard doubles as a playground, athletic field, or dog park, you’ll need something sturdy like Kentucky bluegrass. If your yard won’t get much foot traffic (or paw traffic), you can try fine or tall fescue.

Still uncomfortable choosing a best grass type for your yard? Unsure how you’ll make time to keep your lawn green and healthy? Hire a lawn care pro near you to help choose your grass type and then mow and care for your Columbus yard. 

Main Photo Credit: Steven Miller | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

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