Low maintenance lawn

Asked October 6, 2015, 10:18 PM EDT

I want a low maintenance lawn--little irrigation and little mowing. I won't be playing on it. I just want something that will look green most of the summer. (I bet I'm asking too much!) Is there such a grass? My soil is very dense--gumbo!

Goshen County Wyoming lawns and turf horticulture

1 Response

You have a few options when it comes to low maintenance lawn grasses. Keep in mind, no lawn is "no maintenance" and all lawns will require some maintenance to keep up appearances. You also need to plan on regular watering when establishing a new or renovated lawn. But, yes you can have low"er" maintenance lawns that will stay green with some care. Here are some options.

First choice, Fine Fescues: You typically find fall fescue seed blends containing several fine fescue varieties. Fine fescue is commonly sold at nurseries and garden centers. Some of the common varieties include Sheep's fescue, creeping red fescue, hard fescue, chewings fescue, and others. Fine fescue mixes grow well in shade, but can grow in sun as well. Fine fescue lawns, once established, require less water than many traditional lawn species such as Kentucky bluegrass. As an example, I have KY bluegrass in my backyard (full sun) and fine fescue in the front yard (mix of sun and shade). I watered the fine fescue 4 times this year and it stayed green all summer. Basically, I let the fine fescue go until it was slightly "crunchy" when I walked on it and then I would water it deeply. I watered the KY bluegrass 10 times this year to keep it green. Fine fescue also tends to look better than the bluegrass lawn when I haven't mowed for a while. The bluegrass needs to be mowed every week through the growing season. I mow the fine fescue lawn every 2-3 weeks.

Second choice, Buffalo grass: A native grass in the Rocky Mountain region and western plains, buffalo grass has increased in popularity and in use as a home lawn species. Buffalo grass is often planted as plugs, but seed can also be purchased. Plugs are just small plants and you plant them in 12 inches apart in rows. Over the course of the first growing season, the grass plugs spread and fills in the lawn. This establishment period requires water, but once established buffalo grass is the most drought tolerant species I can recommend for Wyoming. Finding a local source for buffalo grass is sometimes difficult, but there are a number of online sources. Buffalo grass tends to be significantly more expensive to purchase, but occasionally I have found more competitive prices.

Third choice, Tall Fescue: Tall fescue seed is commonly available at nurseries and garden centers. Tall fescue is a deep rooting turfgrass, giving it increased drought tolerance. Shallow soils inhibiting rooting depth can increase the water needs of tall fescue. Tall fescue grows well in full sun and partial shade. Tall fescue looks more like a traditional lawn than fine fescue. Do not mix tall fescue seed with other grasses.