4 Best Grass Types for Cleveland

If your lawn has been neglected while you’ve been enjoying Cleveland’s lake life, it may be time to refresh it with one of four cool-season grass types.

In this article we’ll look at:

1. Turf-type tall fescue
2. Fine fescue
3. Kentucky bluegrass
4. Perennial ryegrass

Any one of these grass types will thrive in Cleveland’s cold winters and mild summers. These cool-season grasses can be planted in a seed or sod mix, so you can take advantage of the strengths of each type while minimizing the weaknesses.

Which Grass is Best for My Cleveland Lawn?

Cool-season grasses thrive in northern Ohio. These grasses enjoy the cooler spring and fall temperatures and may go dormant during the summer when the weather gets too hot.

1. Turf-Type Tall Fescue

Turf-type tall fescue is a great low-to-moderate maintenance lawn grass. This grass is coarse-textured and thrives in full sun but can tolerate some shade. Tall fescue forms deep roots and can survive most droughts. Look for an improved variety with endophytes to use on your lawn. (Older varieties such as Kentucky 31 are not recommended for residential lawns.)

Classification: Cool-season grass
Spreads by: Most varieties are bunching grasses, but a few varieties have short rhizomes
Shade tolerance: Low to moderate shade
Drought tolerance: High
Foot traffic tolerance: High
Maintenance needs: Low to moderate. Needs about 1-2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet
Recommended mowing height: 3 to 4 inches

2. Fine Fescues

Fine fescue grasses establish themselves quickly. These grasses do well in acidic soils and have a fine texture. It needs little in the way of nitrogen and doesn’t readily accumulate thatch. Endophyte-enhanced seed may help with insects.

Classification: Cool-season grass
Spreads by: Most varieties are bunching grasses, but creeping red fescue spreads by rhizomes
Shade tolerance: Prefers partial shade
Drought tolerance: High
Foot traffic tolerance: Low
Maintenance needs: Needs only 1 -2 pounds of nitrogen a year for a 1,000-square-foot lawn
Recommended mowing height: 2.5 to 3 inches

3. Kentucky Bluegrass

Under ideal conditions and management, Kentucky bluegrass produces a blue-green lawn prized for its classic look. This grass, however, creates a high-maintenance lawn and requires regular applications of fertilizer and water to keep it in top condition. Kentucky bluegrass is often mixed with other cool-season grasses to create a stronger lawn that can better resist disease and insects.

Classification: Cool-season grass
Spreads by: Rhizomes
Shade tolerance: Low, prefers full sun
Drought tolerance: Moderate to high
Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate
Maintenance needs: High — requires regular fertilization, watering, and dethatching
Recommended mowing height: 2.5 to 3 inches

* Kentucky bluegrass will go dormant quickly during a drought, but this doesn’t mean it has died. Its rhizomes help it to recover once rainfall resumes.

4. Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass is often used in a mix with Kentucky bluegrass. On its own, this grass is hardy in both cold and warm conditions and is quick to establish. If your lawn gets a lot of use during the growing season, perennial ryegrass can stand up to heavy traffic. Consider endophyte-enhanced seed to help reduce insect issues, and make sure your mower blades are sharp.

Classification: Cool-season grass
Spreads by: Rhizomes and tillers which are produced in the spring
Shade tolerance: Low
Drought tolerance: Moderate
Foot traffic tolerance: High — great for kids and pets
Maintenance needs: Moderate to high — requires from 2 to 5 pounds of nitrogen for a 1,000-square-foot yard
Recommended mowing height: 2.5 to 3 inches

How to Select the Best Grass Type for Your Lawn

You’ll need to consider your lawn’s unique needs before deciding which grass is best:

  • Is your lawn in the sun or in partial shade? (Most cool-season grasses will grow in the shade.)
  • Do you want to DIY your lawn care or pay someone else to do it? How much are you willing to do or pay?
  • Does your area have drought or watering restrictions? (Cuyahoga County does offer free rain barrels.)
  • Do you host events or pickup football games on your lawn? (In other words, how much foot traffic does your lawn get?)

If you want help keeping your Cleveland lawn green instead of the color of the football team (Browns) contact a Cleveland lawn care professional today. Our lawn care pros will mow, rake, and landscape so you can spend your time on what matters most.

Main Photo Credit: Nicolas Henderson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!