4 Best Grass Types for Akron, Ohio

4 Best Grass Types for Akron, Ohio

Located on the northern end of the transition zone, Akron gets mild summers and very cold, snowy winters. As a result, its varied climate isn’t hospitable to every kind of plant and grass. This is why you should weigh your options when selecting the best grass type for Akron, Ohio. 

Questions to consider

What makes these grass species the best? For starters, all of these are cool-season grasses that work well for Akron’s cold winters and mild summers. There’s an excellent guide to cool-season grasses on Lawn Love. Secondly, you can reap more benefits from each grass type and minimize the weaknesses (with the right cultivars) as they’re planted in a seed or sod mix. 

Before you choose, however, it’s important to know what you want your lawn to look like and how you want it to function. Ask yourself these questions before making a decision:

  • How do you plan on using the lawn? If you host lots of parties, games, or get-togethers, you may want a turf that can take a beating. Or maybe your priority is visual appeal over functionality, and durability isn’t as important. 
  • How much time and money do you wish to spend? Some grass types require more care and maintenance than others, and neglecting a high-maintenance type would crush your lush, beautiful lawn dreams in no time. 

If you’re looking for something low-maintenance, drought resistant, and tough that can stand up to the brutal Akron cold, go for fescue grass. This grass type doesn’t need much sunlight or fertilization and does well in shady areas. 

  • What about foot traffic? Figuring out the amount of lawn traffic you’re going to get is important because many cool-season grasses don’t do well in high-traffic lawns. 

If your yard gets a lot of traffic, your best bet is perennial ryegrass as it’s durable enough to withstand moderate to high foot traffic. It’d be hard for a low-traffic tolerant grass type to recover from such damage. 

  • When do you wish to see your lawn the greenest? Cool-season grass types can go dormant in high temperatures, while warm-season grasses are the greenest at this time of the year. If you want a year-round green lawn, you can perhaps opt for a mixture of a few types.

4 best grass types for Akron, Ohio 

The Ohio State University recommends these four cool-season grass species for homeowners in Akron and its surrounding areas. 

1. Kentucky bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass
Wikimedia | CC-BY-SA-2.0

A great choice for a city located on the northern end of the transition zone, Kentucky bluegrass produces a blue-green lawn and a distinctive, classic look. It’s the most common cool-season grass type in the country and provides a visually appealing turf, one that makes every neighbor envious!

But this beauty comes at a price. Kentucky bluegrass requires a lot of maintenance. It needs to be fertilized regularly and needs consistent watering to stay in good shape. Its roots are more shallow than any other grass type which makes it less tolerant to drought and heat. Because of its sensitive nature, this grass type is often mixed with other cool-season grasses, like perennial ryegrass, to produce a stronger lawn that resists insects, foot traffic, and diseases better. 

  • Botanical name: Poa pratensis
  • Native to: Northern Asia and Europe
  • Classification: Cool-season perennial
  • Spreads by: Rhizomes (underground stems)
  • Maintenance needs: High 
  • Shade tolerance: Low
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate to low
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate to high*
  • Mowing height: 2-3 inches
  • Potential for disease: Susceptible to diseases such as dollar spot, leaf spot, and necrotic ring spot

*Kentucky bluegrass tends to go dormant quickly during drought but recovers even quicker with the help of its rhizomes once rainfall resumes. 

Pros

  • Grows a luscious, dense lawn year-round
  • Winter-hardy – withstands temperature and moisture extremes
  • Forms high-quality, fine-textured, long-lasting turf
  • Rapidly recuperates from injury with fast-growing rhizomes 

Cons

  • Vulnerable to high heat and drought
  • Very high-maintenance
  • Vulnerable to stress damage and weeds

2. Tall fescue

Tall Fescue
Matt Lavin | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Tall fescue is a low-maintenance grass that is traditionally used in areas where coarser grass textures aren’t objectionable. It produces broad, deep green leaves and remains green throughout the Akron summers, often without supplemental irrigation. 

Tall fescue is prized for its ability to adapt to a variety of growing environments, soil types, and extreme temperatures. This grass thrives in full sun but is capable of surviving well in shaded areas – making it a great choice for properties with trees. The coarse-textured blades form deep roots in the soil, which makes the grass drought and heat tolerant.

If your lawn has poor drainage, you can count on tall fescue to give you a healthy, green lawn regardless. And the best part? It requires just occasional watering and mowing to develop into a healthy lawn that stays green for eight to nine months of the year. You also don’t have to worry much about fertilization with tall fescue. Two pounds of nitrogen fertilizer annually will do the job. 

  • Botanical name: Festuca arundinacea
  • Native to: Europe
  • Classification: Cool-season perennial
  • Spreads by: Bunches, a few varieties spread by rhizomes
  • Maintenance needs: Low
  • Shade tolerance: Moderate to high
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High
  • Drought tolerance: High 
  • Mowing height: 2-3 inches
  • Potential for disease: Low, only susceptible to brown patches in hot and humid weather

Pros

  • High heat, wear, and drought tolerance
  • Disease- and pest-resistant
  • Easy to work with
  • Thrives in shaded areas and poor soil 

Cons

  • Might be susceptible to brown patch
  • Poor at self-repairing after injury
  • Seedlings don’t tolerate cold well

3. Fine fescue

Fine Fescue - Red Creeping Fescue
Matt Lavin | Flickr

The most fine-textured turfgrass available to homeowners in Akron is fine fescue. This grass creates a thick, narrow-leafed, elevated lawn that retains its rich green hue for most of the year. The grass blades typically appear coiled like springs instead of being flat.

Fine fescue is a tough grass type that exhibits excellent shade tolerance and thrives in poor soil conditions too. Fine fescue will do well in acidic, low-fertility, low-moisture, and low-nutrient soils. Even during a drought, fine fescue retains its vibrant green color. It requires minimal management because frequent irrigation and excess fertilization can lead to a decline in plant density and quality. 

Fine fescue is categorized further into four subspecies: hard fescue, creeping red fescue, Chewings fescue, and sheep fescue. It’s often mixed with other cool-season grasses to create strong sun/shade mixes. 

  • Botanical name: Festuca arundinacea
  • Native to: Europe
  • Classification: Cool-season perennial
  • Spreads by: Mostly bunches, except for creeping red fescue, which spreads by rhizomes
  • Maintenance needs: Low 
  • Shade tolerance: High
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low to moderate
  • Drought tolerance: High
  • Mowing height: 2-3 inches
  • Potential for disease: Moderate

Pros

  • Grows well in soils with unfavorable pH 
  • Thrives in shaded areas and dry weather
  • Low fertilization, mowing, and watering needs 
  • Fast germinating seeds

Cons

  • Doesn’t tolerate heat well
  • Recovers slowly from significant stress
  • Requires well-drained soil 

4. Perennial ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass flowers. Poaceae prennial grass.
iStock | undefined undefined

If you want a lawn that stays green during drought, go with perennial ryegrass. It is a hardy grass type that establishes quickly and thrives in both cold and warm conditions. Perennial ryegrass is known as a nurse grass due to its unique quality to grow quickly and act as a shelter for slow-growing plants around. 

This grass produces pale green leaves with a fine texture and is pretty easy to establish. With proper sun and water, perennial ryegrass takes root in less than four weeks and has the potential to develop into a high-quality lawn, just like Kentucky bluegrass. In fact, perennial ryegrass is often mixed with fine fescue and Kentucky bluegrass.

Perennial ryegrass needs well-drained soil to grow. Its maintenance and pH requirements are similar to improved Kentucky bluegrass, but it is more drought tolerant and holds up well under heavy foot traffic. For this reason, it’s a good choice for gardens, residential lawns, parks, golf courses, and sporting fields. 

  • Botanical name: Lolium perenne
  • Native to: Central Asia, Southern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa
  • Classification: Cool-season perennial
  • Spreads by: Bunch-forming
  • Maintenance needs: Moderate 
  • Shade tolerance: Low
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High 
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate
  • Mowing height: 2-2.5 inches
  • Potential for disease: Susceptible to diseases such as red thread, brown patch, and rust under unfavorable conditions

Pros

  • Rapid germination – making it a great choice for overseeding
  • Resistant to disease and insects
  • Produces ample amounts of seeds
  • Low-maintenance and easy to work with

Cons

  • Not tolerant of shady areas 
  • Might go dull or even die in severe winters
  • Vulnerable to occasional patchy spots and clumps

After you’ve learned about all the grass choices for your Akron lawn and have aligned them with your lawn goals, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to make the best decision. And once you’ve decided, our Lawn Love pros will lend you a hand with mowing, landscaping, and other lawn maintenance tasks.

Main photo credit: Wikimedia | CC-Zero

Farah Nauman

Farah Nauman is a freelance writer and an accountant based in Pakistan. She spends most of her time combating the South Asian heat and being a mom to her three fluffy cats and a dozen little Aloe Veras in her house.