Last Updated on March 17, 2021 by Grow with Bovees
Lawn care takes time and effort, but you might not have much of it if you have a family.
The solution? Enter the best low-maintenance grasses.
We’ll walk you through everything you need to know on low-maintenance grasses, including the best types for every climate.
If you want to get straight to it, these are my favorite low-maintenance lawn types:
- Kentucky Bluegrass.
- Tall Fescue.
- Fine Fescue.
- UC Verde Buffalograss.
- Fleur de Lawn.
Best Practices To Get a Low-Maintenance Lawn
Whichever low-maintenance grass type you pick, you’ll put in less work if you follow these best tips for taking care of your lawn.
Tip 1: Water Wisely
You don’t have to water your lawn every day!
Spacing out watering will save you time and grow your lawn stronger, meaning you won’t have to waste time fertilizing constantly.
Try to space it out and do a thorough watering about once a week. You can water your lawn more often in extremely hot weather, but only if the grass looks dry.
It’s also key for keeping clay soils from caking in the upper layers. In contrast, sand and silt soils with higher porosity can handle more frequent watering, but you should still avoid doing it every day.
Tip 2: Fertilize for Growth
When you apply fertilizer to your lawn, make sure you’re doing it at the right moment to take advantage of your turf’s primary growth season.
Cool-season grasses have fine blades that are soft under your feet, making them a good option for families that spend a lot of time on the grass.
They do most of their growing in the early spring and fall. They don’t go fully dormant in the winter and can turn brown in the summer.
They need more help for growth right at the beginning of the spring, as soon as temperatures are consistently over 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21.11 °C).
You can fertilize again in the fall, but there’s no need to do it across the summer unless your lawn is really in need of nutrients.
On the other hand, warm-season grasses grow most in the hottest summer months of June, July and August, and go dormant in the winter. They benefit most from fertilization in the summer months when they’re actively growing.
You shouldn’t fertilize them too early in the spring but rather wait for the grass to actively grow. Too late in the fall can also weaken the roots during the winter, so stick to fertilizing across the hot summer months.
Tip 3: Keep it Long
Don’t cut your grass too short. When the blades are bigger and longer, the plants have more room for photosynthesis, and they grow stronger roots. This, in turn, will help you grow a more resistant, maintenance-free grass.
As a general rule, chop about a third of the blades when you mow and aim to always leave them at a minimum length of 3 to 4 inches.
Tip 4: Leave the Clippings
Leave the grass clippings on the lawn when you’ve mowed it. They’re full of essential nutrients for your grass, so leaving them in both acts as a natural fertilizer and takes one additional job from your hands.
How to Pick the Best Low-Maintenance Grass Seed for Your Lawn
You can find low-maintenance lawn grass for all climates but make sure you’ve picked the right one for your location based on the below factors.
Cool-season grasses, like Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue, thrive in cooler climates. They’re not good for the Southern US states’ extreme heat but are better suited for the Northeast and Northwest.
Some, like tall fescue, also work well in the transition zone that reaches through the Midwest and across the country. This zone is where the subtropical and temperate climates mix, so maintaining your lawn can be more challenging.
Warm-season grasses, like zoysia, usually have great heat tolerance, which is why they’re common in the South.
Sun and Shade
Be sure to analyze which parts of your lawn get how much sun and shade throughout the year for optimum low-maintenance.
Some types of grass, such as Kentucky bluegrass, can’t survive in the shade. Others, like fine fescue, thrive on it.
You can also use grass seed in batches, with different types for different areas of your lawn if they vary in sun and shade levels.
If you live in a place with little rainfall in the summer, pick a drought-resistant variety, like the UC Verde buffalo grass, which has deep roots. This will help the grass drain more moisture from the ground and survive with less water.
For areas with heavy rainfall, choose the best low-maintenance grass seeds that can handle the extra moisture. Avoid varieties such as fine fescue that suffer from too much moisture.
Our Recommended Low-Maintenance Grasses
These are our favorites for home gardeners, from cool-season varieties to transition-zone and heat-resistant grass.
Kentucky bluegrass is a common cool-season grass in the Northeast and on the West Coast. It thrives in direct sunshine and isn’t ideal for shaded lawns but becomes dormant in droughts, recovering quickly through watering.
It’s also tough enough to survive winters, but its root system is shallow. This means it will benefit further from the above lawn maintenance tips for stronger roots.
Tall fescue is a cool-season grass with deep roots that make it more drought-tolerant. It’s one of the most common options for the tough transition zone between climates because it has good resistance to both the cold and heat.
It also adapts well to different soil types, and it doesn’t require much fertilizing, thanks to its deep roots.
This turf type is generally low-maintenance and grows best when you water it deeply and not too often. If it gets too damaged from extreme heat or foot traffic, though, it doesn’t bounce back easily.
Fine Fescue grass doesn’t require a lot of fertilizer or sunshine, making it excellent for a low-maintenance lawn that can survive in shaded backyards. It’s one of the best slow-growing grass types for those who hate mowing.
It also grows best in cool climates that aren’t too wet. In high heat, this grass variety tends to thatch—gathering debris from roots, dried stems and shoots, making your lawn look brown and requiring lots of maintenance to fix the issue.
Fine fescue also doesn’t recover fast if it gets damaged because of high temperatures.
Bahiagrass is most common in the Gulf Coast region and across the South. This is because it thrives in full sunshine and heat and doesn’t require a lot of water or fertilization. This makes it ideal for those looking for a low-maintenance lawn option for warm weather.
UC Verde Buffalograss
The UC Verde is a drought-tolerant warm-season grass that survives well in the heated and dry conditions of the US South.
It’s a modernized, improved version of Buffalograss native to the United States and Mexico, so it’s naturally apt for these climates.
UC Verde Buffalograss is also low-maintenance because it suppresses weed growth well, so you’ll spend less time getting rid of those nasty weeds.
Fleur de Lawn
Fleur de lawn is a flowering grass mix that’s great for its low maintenance and eco-friendliness.
Scientists at Oregon State University developed this mix, making it suitable for the Northeast weather and good for pollinating insects, such as bees.
Fleur de lawn includes perennial ryegrass, hard fescue, clover and daisy, among other grass types. This mix is designed to bring back nutrients to your lawn to make it more low-maintenance.
Clover, for example, restores nitrogen, so you won’t need to fertilize as much.
You can use fleur de lawn on your entire lawn, but most people choose it for spots where they want to have flowers, not only green grass. Just remember that it doesn’t thrive in the shade!
Zoysia is a drought-tolerant, warm-season grass that grows mostly through the late spring and summer.
It tends to push roots deep in the ground, helping it take moisture from the ground in dry conditions, meaning you’ll need to water it less frequently.
You can plant zoysia grass in the hot US South, where freezing winters don’t exist. But, it also works well as a transition-zone grass in states from the Midwest to the Pacific.
Pick the Ideal Grass for Your Lawn’s Needs
Don’t go for a grass for its blade type or color!
Instead, if you want a low-maintenance lawn, you’ll do best with the grass type that goes well with your local climate and backyard. If you want really low maintenance, then you can always opt for a lawn alternative.
When you’ve applied your low-maintenance grass seed, be smart about your lawn care. Water and mow less frequently, leave grass clippings in and reserve fertilizing for the best growing season.