3 Best Grass Types for St. Louis

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aerial view of St. Louis, MO skyline, including The Gateway Arch and waterfront

Every homeowner wants that standout lawn, but it’s easy to forget that the first step to growing beautiful grass is choosing the right type from the very beginning. It’s important to do your research so you select the best grass seed or sod for your St. Louis yard so you can have a healthy, lush lawn year-round.

The University of Missouri recommends three cool-season grass types for the St. Louis area. Their researchers determined these grass types to be the best based on the area’s climate and soil conditions.

1. Tall fescue

The University of Missouri considers tall fescue to be the best grass species for St. Louis homeowners. Even though tall fescue is a cool-season grass, it can tolerate hot, drought-like conditions better than other varieties. Tall fescue is a pretty versatile grass. It can grow in well-shaded areas, making it a good fit for properties with a lot of tree cover. It’s also very disease-resistant and wear tolerant. And, it remains green for eight to nine months out of the year.

If you are interested in a seed mix, you can pair tall fescue with hard, sheep, creeping red, or Chewings fescue. Unfortunately, these mixtures require more maintenance than pure tall fescue solutions.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunches, occasionally rhizomes
  • Shade tolerance: Moderate
  • Drought tolerance: High
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High
  • Maintenance needs: Low 
  • Mowing height: 2-3 inches
  • Potential for disease: Low

2. Kentucky bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is a great general-purpose turf that forms a dense cover. It’s a very popular cool-season turfgrass throughout the northern parts of the country due to its winter hardiness. Kentucky bluegrass is known for its bluish-green, medium texture that is great to walk on barefoot. Its leaf blades have a boat-shaped tip. 

Kentucky bluegrass is often mixed with other grasses, like perennial ryegrass, to provide a more disease-resistant turf that keeps good color year-round. Because it spreads by rhizomes, it spreads quickly and can fill in damaged or bare spots in your lawn.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Rhizomes (underground stems)
  • Shade tolerance: Low (prefers sunlight)
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate
  • Maintenance needs: Medium to high
  • Mowing height: 1.5-3 inches
  • Potential for disease: Moderate

3. Perennial ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass is a fine-bladed, dark green grass that will give your yard temporary winter color. It is fast germinating and will establish quickly, which helps with weed suppression. Perennial ryegrass has the highest wear tolerance of all cool-season grasses. This is why it is often found in parks and golf courses with high foot traffic. Perennial ryegrass is less tolerant of heat and droughts than the other species.

Perennial ryegrass is considered a nurse grass because it is often included in grass seed blends to help provide shade and protection to other grasses like Kentucky bluegrass.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunches
  • Shade tolerance: Low
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High
  • Maintenance needs: High
  • Mowing height: 1.5-2.5 inches
  • Potential for disease: Very high, including brown patch, red thread, and rust

How to select the best grass type for your St. Louis lawn

Now that you know about the three best grass types for St. Louis, think about your lawn:

Does your yard struggle with summertime heat? 

All three cool-season grasses are not the best in heat, but perennial ryegrass has the least heat tolerance. Tall fescue can hold up well to heat as long as it is not exposed to too many days above 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Are you always having company over for backyard get-togethers?

If you like to entertain, or you have kids and pets who love to run around the yard, perennial ryegrass and tall fescue stand up best to heavy foot traffic. 

Does your lawn experience periods of drought?

If you are worried about watering your yard during times of drought, then you should consider tall fescue.

How much time do you put into lawn upkeep and maintenance?

Tall fescue requires the least maintenance of the three St. Louis cool-season grasses. 

If you need help getting that dream lawn, get in touch with a St. Louis lawn specialist today for your installation and maintenance needs. 

Main Photo Credit: Sam valadi | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

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