Types of Grass For Lawns in the UK

Grasses are an incredibly successful group of plants. They can cover large areas of ground relatively quickly. For this reason, they can be great for quickly regenerating growth and covering up areas of bare soil. A lawn can serve a range of purposes, however, above and beyond simply providing soil cover. They can provide:

  • A place for play and relaxation, than can be mown to create a level, comfortable ground cover and an open, sunny space.
  • Areas of forage/pasture for small-scale livestock.
  • Habitat for garden wildlife. (Especially when other plant species are included alongside grass.)

Which Types of Grass Should You Choose?

Grass will almost always form the basis of a lawn area. But which type of grass or grasses are best will depend on why you are creating the lawn in the first place and how it is to be used. It is important to consider how long the grass will grow (or the height to which it is usually mown), how much traffic it can tolerate, and whether it will be able to withstand the use to which it will be put.

Which types of grass will be best for you will also depend on:

  • The temperatures where you live. (And general climatic conditions.)
  • The microclimate of your garden. (Whether there are frost pockets, whether the site is sheltered or exposed etc..)
  • How much rainfall you get (and how much moisture is retained in the soil).
  • The soil type, pH, fertility and conditions where you live.

Types of Grass for UK Gardens

Common Bent

Common bent (Agrostis Capillaris L.) grows best in full sun. It can tolerate an acidic soil, and thrive in damp soils or dry meadows, but it relatively intolerant of traffic and so is best used for areas with lower footfall. It is best for lawns that are for occasional recreational use.

Meadow Grass

Smooth-stalked meadow grass (Poa pratensis) is generally left a little longer than the above – cut to a mowing height of 2-2.5 inches. Like bentgrass, it likes to be in full sun. However, it will prefer a soil with a neutral pH. This grass can create a great drought tolerant and hardy turf and is also great for attracting wildlife to the garden.

Fine Fescue

If you like some of the qualities of the above grasses, but have a more shaded site, you could consider a fine fescue. This grass can be grown in full sun but will be more tolerant of shade than some other grass types. It is generally mowed to a height of around 2-3 inches and will do fine in almost any soil type. However, like the grasses mentioned above, it will also only tolerate relatively light traffic.

Tall Fescue

Related to the above, tall fescue is also suitable for most soil types, is generally mown to around 2-3 inches, and can be grown in areas of full sun or (partial) shade. This is, however, one of the tougher types of grass, and can withstand high traffic. It could, therefore, be a better choice for lawns where sports and games are to be enjoyed, or where there will be a lot of footfall, and for areas for livestock.

Perennial Ryegrass

Another good option where toughness and hardiness is essential, perennial ryegrass also has great tolerance to traffic. It is also an extremely versatile grass type, as it can be used in most soil types. Like tall fescue, it can also be a good option for livestock, as well as for human uses. However, unlike tall fescue, it is best grown in full sun and is less tolerant of shade.

Grass mixes and turfs will often include one or more of the above, and will usually combine more than one types of grass for a better lawn and better coverage.