Contractors and sod producers across the Southeast are excited about a new cool season grass option that is specifically bred for our area, here in the transition zone. Fescue has been the standard for decades, but maintaining high grass quality during the summer has always been a challenge, resulting in the need to overseed each fall.
Grass breeders set out to find a better variety, and after more than 15 years of research and trials, two new bluegrasses are coming to market. Southern Blue is currently available for sale, and another variety is in process of being released.
Southern Blue Versus Tall Fescue
Developed through a partnership between Texas A&M and NG Turf, Southern Blue is a cross between Kentucky bluegrass and Texas bluegrass, giving homeowners another option for a year round green lawn. Southern Blue and tall fescue share many attributes, however Southern Blue is clearly the best cool season grass for our area, here in the transition zone.
Rhizome Root System
The biggest difference between Southern Blue and fescue is found underground. Southern Blue’s root system includes rhizomes, which are like horizontal stems growing under the soil surface. The grass plants shoot up to the surface along these rhizomes, and as the rhizomes spread, new grass plants form. Fescue does not have rhizomes, so each tuft of grass is its own separate plant.
Because it can regenerate by creating new grass plants along its rhizomes, Southern Blue can more easily recover from damage and wear. If a fescue lawn sustains damage, it cannot regenerate and must be reseeded or repaired with pieces of new sod, costing time and money.
Heat and Drought Resistance
Compared to other cool season grasses, Southern Blue is in a league of its own when it comes to tolerating summers in the transition zone. With proper irrigation, it withstands summer heat and drought conditions better than fescue, due to its hardier root system.
Cool Season Grass
Southern Blue is a cool season grass like fescue, doing the majority of its growth in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. These grasses do not go dormant during winter, but their growth slows significantly during the cold of winter and heat of summer.
Just like fescue, Southern Blue tolerates shaded areas well, making it a great choice for yards with sun to partial shade.