All of us lazy men would love to have a lawn that needed no mowing, no fertilizing, no seeding, and no watering, while still looking great. Unfortunately, that sort of thing doesn’t exist, and putting down fake grass just isn’t a good alternative, especially because many of us lazy folk are budget-minded as well. Choosing the right grass or mix of grasses for your lawn is a great way to get off to the right start to being a lazy lawn guy. Even if you’ve got an established lawn, overseeding with some of these grasses can help to transition to a Lazy Lawn.
How does mowing once a month and not watering sound? Awesome, right? Buffalo grass (Bouteloua dactyloides) is an incredibly useful type of grass for us lazy folk. It grows slowly, is drought-, heat-, and cold-resistant, and it can stand up to high traffic. It comes in seed or sod form, so for those of us with existing lawns, overseeding with buffalo grass is a great alternative to just ripping up the whole lot. With a suggested mature height of four inches or so, buffalo grass should not be mowed more often than once every two weeks. As a warm-season grass, it is quick to go dormant, so that means less mowing in the early spring and late fall. Buffalo grass is also a native plant to the midwest, which is great for your local ecosystem. The only drawback to buffalo grass is that it needs full sun – planting it under large shade trees guarantees slow development and possibly a failure to grow. Make sure to check the Latin name on the seed you get, as a number of plants are sometimes mistakenly referred to as buffalo grass – one, also called St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), is native to the southeastern United States and will not withstand cool winters. The other, most often called sweet grass (Hierochloe odorata), is native to the plains and the upper midwest as well. This one is actually a herb, so getting the two confused would result in an ugly, albeit sweet-smelling, lawn.
Coexistent with buffalo grass in the Great Plains is blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), which has many of the same advantages as buffalo grass does for us lazy folk. Blue grama tends to produce higher grass, and oddly enough, has a greyish-green appearance while the buffalo grass has for of a blue-green look. It is low maintenance and slow growing, so that while its mature height is greater than that of buffalo grass, it still will need only about the same amount of mowing. It is a warm-season grass as well, so expect to see it go straw-colored in fall.
If you want something that will be green longer, you’ll end up doing a little bit more yard work, but it may be worth it. In this case, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, or a combination of the types is a great plan. Kentucky bluegrass is a classic, but it is a also the most high-maintenance of the three. The positive is that it works in almost every soil type and for all levels of sun, which makes it a great fail-safe. Perennial ryegrass is incredibly durable – it’s often used for sports fields and playgrounds. It has a coarser, less refined look than bluegrass, but both do very well in cold and drought, needing little extra watering. Tall fescue has been gaining favor due to its deep root system and slow growth. It will need less cutting than bluegrass or ryegrass, and it survives better than either of them in shade or near thirsty plants. Your best bet for a Lazy Lawn is a mixture of these three grasses, strategically seeding your lawn to give them all a chance to show off.
There are some good-looking, low-maintenance grasses we recommend avoiding, as being lazy does not mean you should be destructive to your ecosystem. Zoysia, bermudagrass and St. Augustine are all great lazy grasses, but the first two are non-native to North America and they are all terribly invasive. While they are incredibly resilient and need little in the way of effort, it is much better for your lawn and the local ecosystem for you to use grass types that are at least native to the continent, if not the local area.
Finding the right grass is just the first step towards having a Lazy Lawn, but that grass will need maintenance. In our next article, we will give you some lawn hacks to make lawn care less time-consuming, and that will reduce the effort you put out, but will still keep your lawn looking great.