4 Best Grass Types for Kansas City

Skyline of Kansas City, MO

What is the one essential element of a great Kansas City barbecue besides the pig? 

Grass. And in Kansas City, you have four best grass type options: 

  • Turf-type tall fescue
  • Kentucky bluegrass 
  • Fine leaf fescue
  • Zoysiagrass

Here are a few reasons why these are the best grass types for your lawn:

  1. Transition zone lawns, which live in between the northern and southern parts of the country, are tricky to manage. Having cool- and warm-season options helps you choose the best grass for your lawn. 
  2. These species have been chosen by local experts to help Missouri homeowners choose the grass that best fits their lawn.

Now that you’ve thought about these key points, let’s dive right in and take a more detailed look at your options.

1. Turf-type tall fescue

Turf-type tall fescue is a lower-maintenance alternative to a Kentucky bluegrass lawn and is a popular cool-season grass in the transition zone. Its deep roots mean it will stay green for longer during the summer months if properly watered. Also, it requires less watering overall due to its deep root system. If you’re concerned about shade, this grass performs moderately well in partial shade.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Most varieties are bunching; a few varieties have rhizomes
  • Shade tolerance: Full sun, partial shade
  • Drought tolerance: High
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High
  • Maintenance needs: Low to moderate; does not usually require summer watering to stay alive except in extreme conditions. It will go dormant, however. Expect to mow one to two times per week during its growing seasons.
  • Mowing height: 2-4 inches, depending on the season
  • Potential for disease: Low to moderate

Other Notes: Although turf-type tall fescue is not known for insect problems, consider endophyte-enhanced seed for greater protection against common insects. Choose a blend of several varieties to increase resistance to dollar spot, summer patch, and brown patch.

2. Kentucky bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is a classic choice for cool-season lawns. However, in a transition zone like Missouri, it doesn’t fare as well on its own. It is recommended to mix this grass with another grass, such as turf-type tall fescue. In Missouri, a 90/10 mix of turf-type tall fescue/Kentucky bluegrass works well. A mix will create a stronger stand of grass overall and lessen the chance of severe summer diseases infecting your lawn.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Rhizomes
  • Shade tolerance: Full sun in fall and spring; afternoon shade during the summer
  • Drought tolerance: High
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate, but has a strong ability to recover from stress due to its rhizomes
  • Maintenance needs: High
  • Mowing height: 1.5-3.5 inches depending on the season
  • Potential for disease: High

Other Notes: Very susceptible to summer diseases, so it is not recommended to use this grass on its own  

3. Fine-leaf fescue

Fine-leaf fescue is most often seeded with Kentucky bluegrass. It’s ideal for yards with partial shade because it is shade-tolerant. Its fast germination helps to cover the ground and slow weed growth while the Kentucky bluegrass is establishing itself.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Fine fescues are bunching grasses with the exception of creeping red fescue; this variety has short rhizomes
  • Shade tolerance: High
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low to moderate wear tolerance and low to moderate ability to recuperate after stress
  • Maintenance needs: Prefers a dry, shady environment; likes to be mowed tall and doesn’t require much water or fertilizer
  • Mowing height: 3-4 inches
  • Potential for disease: High in warm, humid environments

Other Notes: This grass does not thrive in warm, humid summer weather, as it is susceptible to brown patch, summer patch, dollar spot, red thread, and leaf spot in these conditions.

4. Zoysiagrass

Zoysiagrass is a good option if your Kansas City lawn is subject to hot summers. Unlike the other three options listed, zoysiagrass is a warm-season grass, meaning it thrives (and stays green) during the warm summer months and goes dormant (brown) in the winter.

Meyer zoysiagrass, in particular, is a popular choice for transition zone lawns. It has good heat tolerance, withstands heavy traffic, and once it is established, it provides a dense turf with few weeds. Zoysia earns additional points for its low nitrogen requirements.

A few downsides are that zoysia is a notoriously slow grower and is susceptible to winter injury in areas with poor drainage.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Rhizomes and stolons
  • Shade tolerance: Low; needs full sun
  • Drought tolerance: High
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High, but is slow to recover after high levels of traffic stress
  • Maintenance needs: Moderate
  • Mowing height: 1-2 inches; mow once or twice per week
  • Potential for disease: Moderate

Other Notes: The zoysia varieties Zenith and Companion are also popular in Missouri due to their good cold tolerance. Large patch disease is an issue during the spring and fall. Fungicides are not very successful against this fungus, but the grass usually recovers on its own during the summer. Thatch buildup also may be an issue with zoysia. 

How to select the best grass type for your lawn

The key to success when it comes to Missouri lawns is found in the motto, “Choose the right plant for the right place.” Know your lawn and what qualities you need in your grass to choose the right type for your lawn.

Here are the key characteristics you’ll need to consider:

How much shade/sun does your lawn receive?

Zoysiagrass does best in a full-sun lawn. Choose a mix with fine leaf fescue or turf-type tall fescue if your lawn has partial shade.

Is your area subject to droughts or watering restrictions?

Turf-type tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and zoysiagrass have a high drought tolerance. 

Do you prefer a green lawn all summer long, or do you prefer a green lawn throughout the winter?

As a warm-season grass, zoysia stays green throughout the summer. Turf-type tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and fine-leaf fescue are cool-season grasses, so they go dormant (brown) during the hot summer months.

Does your lawn receive high levels of foot traffic?

Turf-type tall fescue has the best wear tolerance of these four grass types, so it’s great for backyard barbecues or pets romping through the yard.

How much mowing and maintenance do you want to do?

Turf-type tall fescue and zoysiagrass have low maintenance needs but may need to be mowed frequently during the growing season.

No matter which of these four grass types you might choose, you’ll be ready for backyard barbecues with friends, family and/or neighbors.

If you prefer to spend your time refining your famous pork ribs, contact one of our Kansas City lawn care pros today. While you smoke your ‘que, they’ll mow, trim, edge, and plant, ensuring your lawn is ready all barbecue season long.

Main Photo Credit: Jake Heckey | Pixabay

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