Did you know that 68% of homeowners feel confident about their ability to care for their lawn? But when the National Association of Landscape Professionals surveyed these homeowners, they found that 57% believe that if grass isn’t green, it’s not healthy.
That isn’t actually true. If you live in Nebraska, it will turn yellow during the winter season. The study also found that many are confused about when to water their yard. The truth is that growing grass seed is more complicated than it looks, especially in states like Nebraska where the climate can be harsh.
If you want to grow high-quality turf in Nebraska, you need to consider the state’s soil characteristics, climate, and growing conditions. Grass seeds have specific needs regarding the level of irrigation, sunlight, and the timeframe for planting to ensure they grow to their full potential.
To help you get started, let’s look at everything you need to know about choosing grass seeds for your climate and what you need to do to maintain a beautiful lawn in Nebraska.
Nebraska’s Growing Conditions and Soil Characteristics
Nebraska has a diverse climate, with conditions ranging from subhumid to semi-arid. In this type of climate, homeowners can choose from a variety of grass seeds. However, some will need more water and care than others.
During the summer in Nebraska, air temperatures average 87 degrees. You won’t have to worry about overly hot summers impacting your lawn. However, the winter weather can be problematic if you don’t plant grass seed early enough.
In the winter, temperatures can get very chilly. In January, for example, average lows reach 13 degrees Fahrenheit. While the temperatures are not always ideal, the soil in Nebraska is great for planting grass seed.
There are 385 different types of native soils in Nebraska. While they differ in color and composition, many of the soils have formed below native prairie grass. Due to the lifecycle and decomposition of prairie grass, the soil is rich with nutrients and naturally fertile.
No matter which type of grass you choose, Nebraska soil should work well for planting grass seed and establishing a healthy sod.
The whole state of Nebraska lies within plant hardiness zones 4a through 5b. Within these zones, plants could experience temperatures as low as -10 to -25 degrees in the winter.
These soil hardiness ratings indicate that cool-season grasses will flourish in Nebraska, whereas warm-season grass types won’t be as easy to grow, especially in the northern half of the state.
When to Plant Grass Seed in Nebraska
If you do choose to plant warm-season grass seeds, plan to get started between April 1st to May 15th. It’s essential to wait until the winter frost has ended to ensure the soil is warm enough for seedlings to begin germinating.
Northern Nebraska will be at risk for frost longer than the southern part of the state, so you might need to wait a little longer if you live in the north.
You can plant cool-season grass seeds at the end of summer or early fall. The best time is from August 15th to September 15th. This allows the seedlings to firmly settle into the ground before the winter season begins.
To get started, you might also want to use fertilizer in addition to your selected grass seed. A good fertilizer will nourish the seedlings and hinder weed growth.
Best Types of Lawn Grasses for Nebraska
Unfortunately, Nebraska homeowners do not have many options for planting warm-season lawn grass. Sure, you could plant buffalo grass or zoysia grass seed, but you’ll end up with a brown turf for seven months out of the year.
Since that won’t make for an attractive yard, we’ve compiled a list of recommended grass seeds that will make a good-looking turfgrass. Given the overall climate of the state, cool-season grasses will thrive in Nebraska, and there is one warm-season drought-tolerant grass seed you can consider: blue grama.
Warm-Season Grass Types
Blue Grama Grass
There’s a reason blue grama grass is the only warm-season grass type recommended for the state of Nebraska — it’s native to the Great Plains! This grass seed has a high drought tolerance and helps control erosion.
Blue grama grows as a bunchgrass in the South but creates a low-maintenance lawn grass for homeowners residing within the Great Plains. Where other warm-season grasses will wither in the Nebraska climate, blue grama grass can prosper into a beautiful green yard.
Cool-Season Grass Types
When looking at cool-season grass types, Kentucky bluegrass is an excellent choice for most states in the U.S. This seedling prefers a highly fertile soil to sink its roots into and can grow up to two feet high.
Nebraska receives an average of 27 inches of rainfall each year, which is perfect for growing Kentucky bluegrass, as this seed needs about 18 to 25 inches of rain.
Perennial ryegrass is one of the best grass seed varieties to grow when you desire a lawn that resembles an athletic field turf. This seed grows quicker than other types of cool-season seeds and can be used anywhere in the United States.
Perennial ryegrass is perfect for areas that receive high amounts of snowfall because this seed is resistant to salt. You can salt your driveway and sidewalk without worrying about damaging your grass seed.
Chewings fescue is a soft, slow-growing grass that creates a perfect, thick lawn. These qualities distinguish chewings fescue from other types of fescue grass seed. In particular, chewings fescue is very tolerant to different climate conditions, including low levels of sunlight and small amounts of rainfall.
Once this grass seed is fully grown, it becomes an attractive, vibrant green color. Due to its slow growth, chewings fescue is perfect for homeowners who desire a low-maintenance lawn without the need for frequent mowing.
If you’re looking for an attractive turfgrass that can withstand heavy traffic, you should consider tall fescue. This grass seed outshines perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass in its ability to tolerate drought conditions and disease resistance.
Tall fescue seeds grow quickly, so this lawn sod will need frequent mowing to manage growth. You can also choose a fescue blend to create a gorgeous, emerald green lawn.
Given the climate, growing grass in Nebraska can be tricky. Cool-season grasses like chewings fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass will be best suited for Nebraska lawns.
However, homeowners have a warm-season grass seed option. Blue grama grass will tolerate cooler weather and make for a beautiful summer turfgrass.
With the right soil conditions, irrigation, and high-quality grass seeds, you can establish a gorgeous green lawn anywhere in the state. Browse our selection of premium grass seeds and start your journey toward a beautiful, lush Nebraska lawn.