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Best grass for occasionally flooded conditions

12 years ago

If you have a portion of your yard that isn't well-drained--for instance, the grass gets submerged below water during heavy rainfall, most grasses won't do well in those conditions. Both zoysia and Kentucky bluegrass won't do well, for example. Neither will centipede.

On my neighbor's half of the side yard we share, he has an area of grass that gets flooded during tempests. You can see that his zoysia there is thinning out. He has lots of bare soil with dead brown stolons visible there. Correcting the grade would be best there, but if that's not possible, there are four species of grass that do better in submerged conditions than most species.

According to Pennsylvania State Professor A. J. Turgeon, writing in his excellent textbook called Turfgrass Management, 9th Edition, tall fescue has a high submersion tolerance, second only to creeping bentgrass, while fine fescue has the lowest submersion tolerance among the cool season grasses. Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass are near the bottom too, just above fine fescue.

For the warm season grasses, seashore paspalum ranks the best for submersion tolerance, followed by bermuda. Zoysia and centipede rank near the bottom. St. Augustine in the middle.

Bermuda wouldn't work as a solution for my neighbor because his side yard gets a fair amount of shade. That leaves tall fescue as his best choice for grass there because creeping bentgrass ranks in the bottom half of popular turfgrasses when it comes to tree shade tolerance.

Fine fescue, of course, is an excellent shade grass, but again, it doesn't do well in submerged conditions. So tall fescue would be a good choice for him there.

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