Brand new website coming soon. Learn MoreClose

Table 1: Comparison of some low-maintenance lawn species

Species Zone1 Drought tolerance Durability pH Soil type Sun/ shade Notes
Blue Grama* (Bouteloua gracilis) 4 – 8 Excellent Above average Slightly alkaline Sandy loam to clay loam Sun
  • Does not tolerate heavy winter foot traffic or shade
  • Does not need frequent mowing, watering or fertilizing
Buffalo Grass* (Buchloe dactyloides) 4 – 8 Excellent Average Slightly alkaline Sandy loam to clay loam Sun
  • Does not tolerate high moisture
  • A short grass: does not need frequent mowing, watering or fertilizing
Canada Blue Grass† (Poa compressa) 2 – 7 Good Good Range Sandy loam to clay Sun-partial shade
  • Tolerates low-nutrient soils
  • Adapts to moist through dry soil conditions
Chewings Fescue† (Festuca rubra var. cummutata) 2 – 7 Very good Average Slightly acidic Sandy loam to clay loam Sun-partial shade
  • Performs well in low-nutrient soils
Creeping Red Fescue† (Festuca rubra) 2 – 7 Good Average Slightly acidic to neutral Sandy loam to loam Sun-partial shade
  • Does not tolerate wet, poorly-drained soils
  • Performs well in poor soils
Crested Wheat† (Agropyron cristatum) 2 – 7 Very good Average Slightly alkaline Sandy loam to clay loam Sun-partial shade  
Hard Fescue† (Festuca longifolia) 3 – 8 Very good Average Slightly acidic to neutral Sandy loam to clay loam Sun-shade
  • Slow-growing, therefore reduced mowing requirements
  • Suited to low-nutrient soils
Kentucky Bluegrass† (Poa pratensis) 2 – 7 Average Good Slightly acidic to neutral Silty loam to clay loam Sun-partial shade
  • Some newer varieties have improved drought and shade tolerance
  • Requires medium fertility
Prairie Dropseed* (Sporobolus heterolepis) 2 – 6 Good Good Slightly acidic to neutral Loam to clay loam Sun-partial shade
  • Requires medium fertility
  • Tolerates dry conditions
  • Does not tolerate wet soils
  • Slow-growing, so suited to reduced mowing
Sheep Fescue† (Festuca ovina) 2 – 7 Excellent Average Slightly acidic to neutral Sand, gravel, loam Sun-shade
  • Tolerates low-nutrient soils and dry conditions
Side-oats Grama* (Bouteloua curtipendula) 2 – 7 Good Average Slightly acidic to neutral Sand, loam, clay Sun
  • Tolerates low-nutrient soils and dry conditions
  • Does not tolerate wet soils
  • A short grass, so suited to reduced mowing
Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) 3 – 7 Very good Good Neutral to slightly acidic Loam to clay loam Sun
  • A broadleaf species
  • Low-growing spreader, so less need for mowing
  • Does well when mixed with fescues
  • Clover will out-compete it, so avoid mixing them
  • Tolerates low-nutrient soil
White Clover (Trifolum repens) 3 – 8 Very good Average to poor Neutral, does not tolerate alkaline or saline conditions Loam to clay loam Sun-partial shade
  • A broadleaf species
  • Low-growing, so less need for mowing
  • Does not do well if trimmed shorter than 8 cm (3 in.)
  • Does not tolerate heavy foot traffic
  • Fixes nitrogen
  • Tolerates low-nutrient soils

* Warm season: do best in the heat of mid-summer, are not green until late spring, and become dormant in fall.

† Cool season: grow best in cool daytime temperatures (spring and fall) and have reduced growth in the heat of mid-summer, in some cases going dormant and turning brown.

1 Climate zones based on Natural Resources Canada and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. 2000. Plant Hardiness Zones.

Table adapted from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. 2000. Household Guide to Water Efficiency. CMHC: Ottawa.

Canada

Share...


Print(opens in a new window)