3 Best Grass Types in Omaha

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Downtown skyline of Omaha, NE

Omaha is a challenge when it comes to picking the right kind of grass for your home. The Gateway to the West lives in extremes when it comes to weather, and there aren’t many grass types that can handle Nebraska’s freezing winters and scorching hot summers. These difficult environmental conditions make it even more important for you to find the right grass type for your home and lifestyle. 

The 3 best types of grass for your Omaha landscape are:

  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Tall fescue
  • Buffalograss

Keeping in mind that water is a precious resource and Nebraska experiences frequent periods of drought, our list is made up of grass types that are durable and relatively drought-resistant. Read on to find out which type is the best fit for your lawn. 

1. Kentucky bluegrass

One of the most popular grass types across the United States, Kentucky bluegrass is a great option for Omaha homeowners. Ranging in color from blue to dark-green, this grass type is likely what you picture in your mind when you hear the term “turfgrass.” 

This is a quick-growing, dense, grass type with a fine texture. Kentucky bluegrass is very resilient and can survive Omaha’s brutal winters. The durability of this grass type does come at a price — Kentucky bluegrass is more high maintenance than other grass types, requiring more water and fertilization. If you’re up for the task, this is a wonderful choice for families with active kids and pets. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Rhizomes
  • Shade tolerance: Moderate; requires four to six hours of direct sunlight
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate; thrives with proper irrigation, and will become dormant during periods of drought. Recovers quickly from dormancy.
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High
  • Maintenance needs: High. Low fertility will delay growth and leads to stripe rust. Aim for a modest amount of nitrogen. 
  • Mowing height: Keep between 3 and 3.5 inches
  • Potential for disease: Moderate to high; increases at lower mowing heights

Other notes: Kentucky bluegrass can produce a lot of thatch, so plan to dethatch annually or every other year.

2. Tall fescue

Tall fescue is another durable cool-season grass that can thrive and survive the challenging weather conditions in Eastern Nebraska. It’s a versatile grass that can handle the heat better than other cool-season grasses and can withstand the cold better than most warm-season grasses. Unlike Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue is drought-resistant and doesn’t require as much fertilization. This grass type is also resistant to many kinds of pests and diseases.

Tall fescue is low-maintenance and tough, with the ability to withstand plenty of outdoor activity. It has a coarse texture and ranges in color from medium to dark green. Even though it’s low-maintenance, it’s important to take care of your lawn year-round. Over time, cold weather and a lack of nutrients can lead to thinning and reduced turf quality. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type
  • Shade tolerance: Moderate; prefers direct sunlight 
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate to high
  • Maintenance needs: Low; grows in soil with poor levels of nutrients 
  • Mowing height: Keep around 3-3.5 inches 
  • Potential for disease: Low; high tolerance against pests and disease

Other Notes: Unlike other cool-season grasses, tall fescue will stay green throughout hot summers. 

3. Buffalograss

Native to Nebraska, buffalograss is a great low-maintenance, environmentally-friendly option for your lawn. Being native to the area, buffalograss can naturally withstand the extreme Omaha weather. It can survive extended droughts and thrive in soil with low levels of nutrients. 

The one thing buffalograss does require is plenty of direct sunlight, so this won’t be a great option for yards with a lot of shade. Buffalograss should not be overwatered — this leads to increased levels of disease and invasive weeds. 

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons
  • Shade tolerance: Low; prefers direct sunlight
  • Drought tolerance: Very high; without irrigation, it will turn brown during the summer but recovers quickly 
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low
  • Maintenance needs: Very low 
  • Mowing height: Keep between 2.5-4 inches 
  • Potential for disease: Low

Other notes: Buffalograss thrives in clay soil. 

Choosing the best grass type for your Omaha home

Though Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, and buffalograss can all thrive in Omaha and Council Bluffs, there are a few things to keep in mind while deciding which is best for your home.

  • How much time can you spend on lawn care? 
    • If you don’t have a ton of free time to spend in the yard, look into planting tall fescue or buffalograss.
  • How much shade does your lawn receive?
    • If you have a shaded yard, opt for tall fescue.
  • Does your yard receive a lot of foot traffic?
    • Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue are great options for homeowners with active kids and pets.
  • Trying to reduce water usage?
    • If you’re trying to cut down on water usage, plant native buffalograss.

Use these questions to guide you on your search for the perfect grass for your Omaha yard.

Need a hand with your lawn care to-do list? Contact an Omaha lawn care professional to assist with all of your landscape maintenance, design, and installation needs. 

Main Photo Credit: Tony Webster | Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

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