4 Best Grass Types in Pittsburgh

Skyline and waterfront with bridge, of Pittsburgh, PA

Turn the Steel City green with a healthy lawn. Finding the best type of grass for your Pittsburgh home can be a challenge — you need to find a turf that can last through the winter, but won’t dry out in the summer. 

These are our four top choices for Pittsburgh area lawns: tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue, and Kentucky bluegrass. 

All four are cool-season grasses perfect to withstand Pittsburgh’s four distinct seasons. Read on to learn more about these four best grass types for Steel City yards.

What are the best grass types for my Pittsburgh home?

1. Tall Fescue

Tall fescue is one of the most low-maintenance grasses available. Of turf grasses, this is also one of the most drought-resistant types. It can handle plenty of outdoor activity and pet waste. 

Tall fescue may need to be mowed frequently because of its rapid growth. This grass type is best for busy families and pet owners who don’t mind a coarser texture. 

  • 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. Can grow in soil with poor levels of nutrients. 
  • Mowing Height: Keep between 1.5-3 inches. Mow weekly. Do not cut more than one-third of its height. 
  • Potential for Disease: Low. It has a high tolerance against disease and insects.
  • Other Notes: Grows slower than perennial ryegrass. Will stay green through hot summers. 

Grass Seed Options:
Triple-Play Tall Fescue Grass Seed Blend (5000 sq ft)
Eretz Kentucky 31 K31 Tall Fescue Grass Seed (choose your size)
Pennington The Rebels Tall Fescue Grass Seed Mix (7 lb.)

2. Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass is a fast-growing turfgrass that peaks during the cooler months. 

Use perennial ryegrass if you’d like to thicken your lawn, or want to fill in dead patches. It works best when mixed in with other species, and is very compatible with Kentucky bluegrass. This grass type is best for sunny lawns and homeowners who love spending time outdoors. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type
  • Shade Tolerance: Low — prefers full sun
  • Drought Tolerance: High. Will become dormant during a drought, and can quickly revive when watered.
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: High
  • Maintenance Needs: Low. Responds well to a higher amount of nitrogen than other grass types.  
  • Mowing Height: Best kept between 1-2 inches.
  • Potential for Disease: Low. It has a natural resistance to disease and insects. Can develop grey leaf spot disease in summers with high levels of heat and humidity. 
  • Other Notes: Produces less thatch compared to other cool-season grasses. Avoid the “Lynn” variety. 

Grass Seed Options:
Outsidepride Perennial Ryegrass Seed (5 lbs.)
Eretz ProTurf Perennial Ryegrass Fine Lawn Seed (choose your size)

3. Fine Fescue

Fine fescue is a versatile grass with a fine texture. Its bright green color stays vibrant all year long.

Fine fescue is a relatively low-maintenance grass type — as long as you remember to water it consistently. This is the best grass type for busy homeowners with properties that don’t receive a lot of direct sunlight. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type 
  • Shade Tolerance: High — prefers less than four hours of sunlight per day.
  • Drought Tolerance: Low. Consistent watering is needed to prevent permanent damage. 
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: Moderate
  • Maintenance Needs: Low
  • Mowing Height: 2½-3½ inches; should be mowed weekly, but will be fine if left unmowed for much of the growing season
  • Potential for Disease: Higher chance of developing disease or snow mold
  • Other Notes: Low potential for thatch buildup

Grass Seed Options:
Outsidepride Legacy Fine Fescue Grass Seed (5 lbs.)
Eretz Creeping Red Fine Fescue Seed (choose your size)
Outsidepride Creeping Red Fine Fescue Grass Seed (25 lbs.)
Outsidepride Hard Fine Fescue Grass Seed (10 lbs.)

4. Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is very common in the United States — it’s what most people imagine when they think of turfgrass. 

It gets its name from being a lush, dark green that sometimes appears as a dark blue color. It is smooth, soft, and can handle plenty of outdoor activity. With the right amount of light and moderate levels of maintenance, Kentucky bluegrass can be the perfect grass for your home. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Rhizomes (underground shoots)
  • 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. 
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: High
  • Maintenance Needs: High. Needs to be fertilized, low fertility will delay growth and can cause stripe rust. Aim for a modest amount of nitrogen. 
  • Mowing Height: Keep between 2-3 inches
  • Potential for Disease: Moderate to high. Increases at lower mowing heights
  • Other Notes: Can produce heavy amounts of thatch. Dethatch annually or every other year.

Grass Seed Options:
Jonathan Green (11970) Blue Panther Kentucky Bluegrass Grass Seed (3 lbs.)
SeedRanch Midnight Kentucky Bluegrass Seed (5 lbs.)
– Jacklin Seed – Biltmore Blue Blend – 100% Kentucky Bluegrass (5 lbs.)

How to choose the best grass type for your lawn

The four grass types detailed above can all thrive in Pittsburgh, but you should consider a few things when deciding which one will best suit your lawn:

  • How much time and energy can you dedicate to maintenance?
    • Busy homeowners should look into tall fescue and perennial ryegrass.
  • How much shade does your lawn get?
    • Fine fescue and tall fescue can do well in yards that have abundant shade.
  • Conversely, how much direct sunlight does your lawn get?
    • Perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass prefer full sun.
  • How often do people or pets tread on your lawn? 
    • Perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass best suit Pittsburgh pet owners.

With these questions in mind, you should be able to select which one of the four best grass types is best for your Pittsburgh property. 

When to plant grass seed in Pittsburgh

In Pittsburgh, most grasses should be planted between August and October. Cool-season grass will thrive in Pittsburgh’s moderate fall weather, so these are more recommended than warm-season types. Seed your lawn by Labor Day for a lush yard come springtime. 

Cool-season grasses also require less frequent mowing in the summer, with their growth peaking in fall and spring. However, they may be more susceptible to heat-related damage, so it is important to take good care of your yard in the summer months. 

Need help taking care of your lawn? Contact a Pittsburgh lawn care pro to help with mowing and landscape design, installation, and maintenance. 

Main Photo Credit: User: Derek.cashman | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

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Sav Maive

Sav Maive is a writer and director based in San Antonio. Sav is a graduate from the University of Virginia and is a loving cat and plant mom.