When choosing the type of lawn grass it is important to take certain factors into consideration. Do you want a first class luxury lawn comparable to a golf or bowling green? Are you prepared to carry out a regular maintenance program that a luxury lawn requires? Or maybe you have children and want a general purpose lawn that will be hard wearing.
Lawns can fall into two different categories either luxury or utility. Most people would like a fine turf luxury lawn that is of the same quality as say a bowling or golf green. Although these lawns are great to look at they require a lot more work to maintain the quality. A luxury lawn would contain two types of grasses, bents and fescues, the same grasses that are found in high quality golf and bowling greens.
Chewings Fescue [Festuca rubra commutata]
Chewings fescue is a very common grass used in luxury lawns. It has a tufted growth habit and can be mown as short as 5mm making it a popular grass for luxury fine lawns.
Chewings fescue is a very drought resistant grass making it an ideal choice for a light sandy soils which are low on nutrients. They do not perform well on heavy clay soils.
Creeping Red Fescue [Festuca rubra rubra]
There are two different types of creeping red fescue, slender creeping red fescue and strong creeping red fescue. Slender creeping red is the finer of the two types and tolerates closer mowing and has a higher shoot density than strong creeping red fescue.
Creeping red fescues spread by way of rhizomes (underground runners). These grasses prefer light sandy free draining soils. Like chewings fescues they are very drought resistant. They do not perform well on heavy soils.
Browntop Bent [Agrostis tenuis]
This the most commonly used and suitable bent grass for use in luxury lawns in the UK and will tolerate very close mowing. It is widely used with chewings fescues in grass seed mixtures for golf and bowling greens as browntop bent has very fine leaves and a high shoot density.
Browntop bent is a tufted grass with excellent drought tolerance properties. The disadvantage with this grass is that it is very slow to establish. It will grow in both light and heavy soils.
Perennial Rye Grass [Lolium perenne]
Perennial Rye Grass is a very hard wearing grass and would normally be used for a utility lawn or any high wear areas. In the past it has always been an inferior grass and would not usually be used in a luxury lawn.
However some new dwarf rye cultivar's are so fine now that they resemble red fescues. This makes it a great choice if you want to add some wear tolerance to your luxury lawn.
Recently some golf courses have been overseeding with these dwarf ryegrass mixtures on their greens. These dwarf rye varieties will tolerate close mowing and will thrive on most types of soil.
Smooth-Stalked Meadow Grass
Smooth-Stalked meadow grass is almost as hard wearing as perennial rye grass making it a good choices for a hard wearing utility lawn. The main disadvantage with this grass is it is slow to establish, although the recent cultivar's establish quicker than previous cultivar's of this grass.
Smooth-stalked meadow grass spreads via rhizomes, will grow in most soil types that are not too wet, and is drought and disease resistant. It also performs well on shaded lawns.
Annual Meadow Grass [Poa annua]
Annual Meadow grass is a weed grass in luxury fine lawns for numerous reasons. It is a shallow rooting grass with poor drought resistance and poor disease resistance (especially fusarium patch disease which occurs during the autumn and winter).
For all it's disadvantages it is the most common grass in fine turf such as golf greens because of it's ability to adapt and thrive in most conditions. Annual meadow establishes very quickly and can quite happily tolerate and produce seed under very close mowing, making it very difficult to eradicate. Annual meadow grass will grow in any soil conditions.