Existing Lawn

To make the transition to a lower maintenance lawn a successful one, begin by carefully evaluating current conditions, including your recent maintenance history. Before beginning corrective action, examine your lawn and surrounding landscape for the following:

  • Soil compaction
  • Excessive levels of thatch
  • Shade
  • Poor or excessive drainage
  • Weeds
  • Insects and other pests
  • Species/varieties of grasses present

Lawn grasses that already adapted to less water and fewer nutrients (grasses such as endophyte enhanced tall fescues, fine fescues, perennial ryegrasses and common Kentucky bluegrasses) must be present. If not, you should consider adding them.

In addition, have the soil where grasses are growing tested to determine fertility requirements. Test kits are available from your local Cooperative Extension and Soil & Water Conservation District offices or order online.

What Grasses Do You Have?

Here are some hints to help you determine which grasses may exist in your lawn:

  1. If your lawn is 30-35 years old (or older), chances are it consists mostly of bentgrass varieties (which prefer sunny areas) and some fine-leaved fescues (especially in shadier areas).
  2. If your lawn was seeded or over-seeded with mixtures made for general-purpose lawns, it probably has Kentucky bluegrasses, fine-leaved fescues, and, perhaps, perennial ryegrasses.
  3. If your lawn was seeded or over-seeded with mixtures for premium or elite lawns, it probably contains a blend of several improved Kentucky bluegrass varieties and some perennial ryegrasses. These grasses usually require more maintenance and do not adapt well to low maintenance programs. To convert this lawn to the YardScaping program, you will have to add some low maintenance varieties.
  4. If your lawn was established by sodding, most of the grass varieties are probably improved Kentucky bluegrasses. However, recent sod blends often consist of both high and low maintenance varieties, making them more adaptable to YardScaping. But it is recommended that you over-seed this sod with even lower maintenance varieties.

Levels of Home Lawn Care

Lawn Care Level Amount of Watering Mowing Heights Pounds of Fertilizer That May be Needed* Timing of Fertilizer Applications**
Very Low Maintenence
Suitable grasses are tall fescues, hard and sheep's fescues and other fine fescues
None 3 - 4 in. 0 -----------
Low Maintenance
Suitable grasses are common Kentucky bluegrasses & fine-leaved fescues
Little to None 3 in. 1 Labor Day - Columbus Day
Medium Maintenance
Suitable grasses are most Kentucky bluegrasses & fine-leaved fescues
Some 2.5 - 3 in. 2

Mid- to late-August and
Labor Day through Indigenous Peoples' Day

* Eliminate one fertilizer application by leaving clippings on the lawn. Soils with high organic matter levels (indicated by a soil test) and lawns more than 10 years old need less nitrogen (N) per year due to the reserve N supply in the organic matter. N will be slowly released for plant use as the organic matter further breaks down over time. Never apply more than 1 pound of N per 1,000 square feet per application.

** Use earlier times in northern parts of the state, later times in southern areas.