5 Best Grass Types in Dayton

Skyline of Dayton, Ohio

We know the Wright Brothers ruled the skies in Dayton, but what about the ground? If you want ground control, picking the right grass for your Ohio landscape will set you up for a lush lawn your neighbors will envy.

The five best grass types for Dayton:

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

Dayton falls in USDA Hardiness Zone 6, and all of these grasses thrive in this climate. Read on to learn more about these four best grass types for Dayton yards.

1. Kentucky bluegrass

Do you love the feeling of cool grass beneath your feet? Kentucky bluegrass has a dense, fine to medium texture that’s perfect for pets and bare feet. The bluish-green color creates an attractive, thick turf that’s sure to impress. 

Although it has great cold tolerance, it can’t handle the heat or drought because of its shallow root system. Disease can be an issue with this grass, too. Keeping the mowing height high and making sure it receives adequate sunlight will help prevent common diseases like necrotic ringspot.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Rhizomes (below ground)
  • Shade tolerance: Moderate; needs four to six hours of direct sunlight
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High
  • Maintenance needs: High
  • Mowing height: 2.5-3.5 inches
  • Potential for disease: Moderate to high
  • Soil pH: 6.5-7.2

Other Notes: Can produce heavy thatch. Dethatching can be done with a rake or dethatcher and is best done in early fall or spring.

2. Buffalograss

Buffalograss is a great option for those looking to reduce their water and fertilizer usage. Unlike the other grass options for Dayton, buffalograss is native to North America, meaning it’s naturally adapted to the environment. As a result, it’s heat and drought tolerant and can make it through Ohio cold winters. This type has one of the best cold resistance of the warm-season grasses. Plus, its disease resistance means less maintenance.

This blue-green grass loves full sun. Because of its fine texture, it can be damaged by heavy foot traffic. This is a great grass if you’re looking for a hardy, low-maintenance option and know you won’t have too many feet tromping through your yard.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons (above ground shoots)
  • Shade tolerance: Low
  • Drought tolerance: High
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low
  • Maintenance needs: Low
  • Mowing height: 1-2 inches; mow weekly or biweekly
  • Potential for disease: Low
  • Soil pH: 6.0-8.0

Other notes: Overwatering can encourage invasive weeds. You can wait for the grass to wilt slightly before watering. 

3. Tall fescue

If you find yourself frequently forgetting to water your plants, tall fescue might be a good choice for you. It’s one of the most drought-resistant grasses. Not to mention, it can handle heat and the cold, too, making it adaptable to a variety of climates.

It grows in bunches, which means it needs more frequent mowing. Its coarse blades have a medium to dark green color.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type
  • Shade tolerance: High
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate to high
  • Maintenance needs: Low
  • Mowing height: 2.5-4 inches
  • Potential for disease: Low
  • Soil pH: 5.8-6.5

Other notes: With proper care, this grass stays green through hot summers. 

4. Fine fescue

With a fine texture and bright green color that stays vibrant all year, fine fescue can make a lovely lawn. It’s relatively easy to care for as long as it receives enough water. 

If you choose this grass, hold back on the fertilizer. It doesn’t need as much nitrogen as, say, Kentucky bluegrass, and too much can contribute to diseases like red thread. If you notice disease, don’t apply fertilizer and keep the mowing height above 3 inches.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type
  • Shade tolerance: High 
  • Drought tolerance: Low
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low to moderate
  • Maintenance needs: Low
  • Mowing height: 3-3.5 inches
  • Potential for disease: Moderate
  • Soil pH: 5.0-6.5

Other notes: Wilted, folded, or curled leaves mean it’s time to water. You should water until the soil is wet at a depth of 4-6 inches.

5. Perennial ryegrass

If you’re in a pinch and want to green up your yard quickly, perennial ryegrass is a great option. Perennial ryegrass is a dark green, cool-season grass that is often mixed with other grasses like Kentucky bluegrass. It’s often valued because it’s quick to establish — you can go from seed to a mowable lawn in as few as 21 days. 

This grass forms a dense turf, but it requires a decent amount of water — about 2.5 inches a week. It also needs regular fertilization (once every six weeks) to support its rapid growth. Look for newer cultivars like Calypso II and Paragon GLR that form deeper root systems for stronger drought and cold tolerance.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type
  • Shade tolerance: Moderate; it prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade
  • Drought tolerance: Low
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High
  • Maintenance needs: Moderate
  • Mowing height: Aim for 1-2 inches
  • Potential for disease: Low

Other notes: Ryegrass needs more nitrogen than other types to thrive. Monitor it closely, though, because too much nitrogen can cause excess growth and diseases like dollar spot. 

What to consider when choosing your grass

Every backyard is different. These are a few questions to think about when making your choice.

  • Do you have trees or shade structures in your yard?
    • Fine fescue can thrive in shady areas.
  • Is having green grass year-round important to you?
    • Tall fescue and fine fescue can keep their color through the warmer summer.
  • Do you want something low maintenance?
    • Buffalograss doesn’t require much upkeep.
  • Do you like a dense, classic-looking turf?
    • A mix of Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass can give you a five-star lawn. 

Caring for your lawn year-round

The best time to seed your cold-season grasses is late summer or early fall (Aug. 15 to Sept. 15). Consistent rainfall and warmer soil temperatures will help the seeds germinate and encourage deeper roots to prepare for winter. 

Once your grass is established, you can start applying pre-emergent herbicides in early spring to prevent weeds as well as nitrogen fertilizer. When it’s time to mow, make sure you’re never “scalping” your lawn — removing one-third of the leaf blade with each mow. 

These steps will set you up to have a healthy, successful lawn. 

If you need a hand getting started or maintaining your lawn, contact a professional landscaper in the Dayton area.

Main Photo Credit: Doug Kerr | 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.