It can be easy to overlook grass as simply ‘grass’. As the world’s most abundant species of plant, we are very used to seeing it, whether overgrown or cut short. But there are a huge number of different species out there, and choosing the right one for your lawn is important.
In this article, we will take you through the most common species found in the UK, and highlight their unique characteristics to help you decide on the best one.
Common Types of Grass in the UK
Easily identifiable by its thin, blade-shaped leaves this is by far the most common type of grass found in the UK, as well as the US. This is mostly due to its fast-growing nature and impressive resistance to outdoor pressures such as pests and lack of shade, as well as spring-back recovery when damaged. Outside of the average garden lawn, you will often find ryegrass on roadsides, a testament to its hardiness.
Ryegrass is also one of the most economical choices for grass species, so if your lawn project is under a strict budget, this could be the type for you.
It is worth noting that despite its popularity, its speedy growth can make it a more demanding grass type to take care of. It requires careful fertilisation to keep it thriving, and with how fast it spreads, you may find yourself mowing a ryegrass lawn two times a week during peak seasons.
There are over five hundred different types of meadowgrass out there, each with a unique look and nature. Annual meadowgrass is often favoured for lawns as it is low-growing and tolerant to a wide variety of terrains. But smooth-stalked meadowgrass is also a popular choice, selected for its vibrant green hue and thick ground coverage.
This highly adaptable grass species are sometimes sidelined for being high-maintenance, but is a popular choice for bowling greens and golf courses alike, as both are continually looked after. What meadowgrass boasts in versatility, it falls short of in resilience, often dying out in the winter months.
This coastal-dwelling grass species is just one variety in the Festuca family, and another go-to choice for golfing and bowling greens. Red fescue is a balanced grass type, levelling the scales of aesthetics and durability, and has creeping roots that dig straight down into the soil, which ensures the grass never goes without water during droughts and remains fresh and green.
Red fescue can handle most shady and dry conditions, and requires far less maintenance than other grass species. If you are hoping to grow your first lawn, red fescue is a solid choice.
As its name might lead you to believe, common bent is found in most places around the UK, particularly favouring moorland areas. Sometimes referred to as ‘brown-top bent’, bent grass can thrive in most types of low-acidic soil, including sand and clay-based mixes, and requires very little maintenance in the long run.
What to Consider When Choosing Lawn Grass
With a cluster of common grass species to choose from, you might feel ready to get planting. But there are a few last-minute factors we recommend considering first.
Your Local Climate
British weather is famously unpredictable. But there are a few common through-lines that you can identify before settling on a grass type, ensuring the species is the best fit.
For example, the south coast of England is considered the warmest part of the country, with the coastlines being much windier than island areas. You should also consider how wet your area is, with areas like London being quite dry in comparison to cities like Cardiff.
Your local weather conditions will have a noticeable effect on your lawns, and impact how much ongoing maintenance they will require.
Your Garden Soil Type
Do you know if your soil is alkaline-rich? Or maybe more on the acidic side? Soil pH levels will change over time, and can be altered by composts and mulches, or by intervention involving home remedies such as vinegar and lemon juice.
If you are an avid gardener, you will likely already be familiar with the pH balance of your soil, as every plant has its own preference, so it is worth considering this before sowing grass seeds.
Another soil characteristic to take into account is its density. Sandy soils tend to be more prone to drought, whereas clay-rich soils retain much more moisture. Efficient drainage is important for lawn health, and yours may need a helping hand if your soil will not allow it.
Most of the common species we have listed above are resilient and should have no problem taking root in your garden, but it is still good to bear these things in mind.
Sun and Shade Balance
Boughts of sunlight are inconsistent in the UK, and some lawns suffer more than others in the excessive shade. Opt for species such as red fescue, which have a much higher tolerance for shady spells.
If your garden is a particularly active space, filled with summertime events and outdoor games, you should avoid species that grow quickly or consist of tall or dense foliage that create an uneven ground. Instead, you may want to opt for a species such as browntop bent, famed for its ability to withstand close mowing and minor neglect.
Struggling to Decide? Try a Grass Seed Mix
One of the best ways to implement a lawn that can handle the unpredictability of British weather and suit the needs of the average gardener or homeowner, is to use a measured mix of several hardy species.
This approach offers the maximum amount of benefits, gleaned from each species, as well as unmatched versatility. Choosing your own seed mix can also be the most economical way to install a new lawn, as you can choose a mix that aligns with your budget.
Long-Term Care For Your Chosen Type of Lawn Grass
Our team at Sims knows their lawns, with an extensive range of garden machinery, primed and ready to maintain grassy lawns of all kinds. From battery and petrol-powered lawnmowers to keep overgrowth at bay, and leaf blowers to uphold a tidy appearance, to general hand tools and accessories for detail work and general upkeep.
Once you have decided on the perfect type of lawn grass for your garden, ensure a fantastic look and lengthy lifespan with our range of tools and equipment.