Ever wonder which grass types green up the earliest in the Spring? Even if you never really thought that to yourself exactly I’m sure you’ve wondered at some point why someone’s backyard may be green while the front isn’t or why one neighbor has a green lawn in March and no one else does.
This question really hit me in the face this weekend while traveling through Eugene, OR. I live about 150 miles away in a completely different climate. We are still heavily in winter and I had to go through great lengths to wake up a portion of my lawn from dormancy however over here in Eugene I’m seeing tons of green grass everywhere and I’ve even seem some yards that have obviously been mowed very recently.
Little do many people realize but the Pacific Northwest really wants to join the transition zone. So long as you stay west of the Cascade mountain range you’ll find the soils never really freeze for any significant length of time and some cold season grasses can largely stay green through the bulk of the winter, especially as you stay in the valleys or stay close to the coast. Later in the year portions of this area can easily get into the 90’s daily for long stretches but the heat isn’t usually as stifling as regions further South in California and Nevada.
Anyway, not my home, where I live we are much colder than Eugene or Portland through the winter and our Summer’s are milder too. We’re east of the mountains and in an area broadly described as a high desert.
Anyway, it got me thinking about the green grass that I’m seeing around here and what it might be.
Of all the cold season grasses KBG is usually the last to green-up. The first is usually Perennial Rye with the tall fescues in the middle. You can usually tell the difference between TTTF and K31 tall fescue by color – K31 is obviously lighter green with wider blades. It will also grow faster.
The temperatures for these green-ups are close however, P Rye may start greening up closer to the low 40’s while KBG may start greening a little over 45; then of course the fescues would fall somewhere in the middle.
Fine fescues will also stay greener (less dormant looking) through the winter but their color and blade width is usually easy to identify when mixed with wider blade fescues. They tend to be a dark dingy green and their blades widths are super fine.
In the warm season category Centipede if it isn’t killed off by freezing temps will generally stay green through the winter because it resists going dormant until the plant simply dies in freezing weather. It’s got a lighter hue of green to it as well so even in the warmer months it can usually be identified.
Bahia grass will be the next to green-up around the upper 40’s to 50 degree zone followed closely by Zoysia in the low 50’s and then Bermudas and St. Augs at 55 and above.
Of course for those grasses in the very deep south, lower gulf states, southern regions of Texas, Florida, and southern areas of the Southwest, all of these warm season grasses have a good chance at staying green all year round so long as they are being grown in suitable conditions – i.e. Bahia needs the hot humidity, Bermuda needs full sun, etc.
Anyway, as this may pertain to your lawn, if you have a mixed grass type the first grass to green up in your lawn may well be a specific type that responds to the changing season earlier. This may be the best time to identify clumps of a single grass type in a mixed lawn. Take advantage of that – note what is where and what it means to you.
Even if you don’t do anything with the information it never hurts to have more knowledge and understanding of what is happening in your lawn.
Make sure to check the video description for links over to the site for more info on grass types as well as some of their summarized growth habits.
Also, make sure to get your weed pre-emergents on hand. For the majority of the US the optimal pre-emergent application window will fall between March 1 and April 15, only a six week period of time. Get your products before you need them and don’t just wait for the grass to green up before you address weed prevention in the lawn this year.
Make sure to watch my weed prevention guide as your next step – it should be linked on the screen right about now! Thanks for watching!