In Illinois, only a few species of grass are really suitable for home lawns. Those include: Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue and fine fescue and some blends of these grasses. Care should be taken not to combine bunching grasses with other types of grasses. These will ultimately lead to clumps of grass that stand out as splotches in the lawn. For example, do not combine fescue and bluegrass. The result in time, create a patchwork appearance to the lawn.
When considering installing or renovating an Illinois lawn, selection of the proper turfgrass species is one of the most important decisions to be made. Lawns are meant to be permanent, and therefore a grass species should be selected that has been adapted to the Illinois climate. The species selected must also be capable of meeting certain aesthetic expectations of the homeowner.
Many lawn problems result from the failure to address these subjects during the grass selection process.
Zoysia grass is used primarily in regions of the country south of Illinois. This species is not compatible with cool-season turf grasses. The biggest drawback is that zoysia grass becomes dormant and turns brown in mid-fall and does not re-green until mid-spring. The lack of winter color, slow establishment rate, low mowing heights and proneness to develop heavy thatch layers make it incompatible with the other cool season turf grasses. Therefore, it should not be grown in Illinois.
Annual bluegrass is better adapted to cool, wet climates. Because of the shallow root systems, this grass dies out during hot, dry periods, especially in areas where irrigation is not performed. The inconsistent nature of this grass reduces its acceptance for use in Illinois.
Annual ryegrass is a stemmy, coarse-textured grass that germinates and establishes very rapidly in lawns. This grass only persists for one growing season or less. The need for quick germination and cover can often be satisfactorily met with the improved perennial ryegrass cultivars.
All warm season grasses should not be considered.
Weed pests: crabgrass, dandelions are the 2 most common weed problems. Ground ivy is also a troublesome weed that is somewhat difficult to control. There are a number of broadleaf weeds common to Illinois, but most of these can be spot treated with an effective herbicide.
Professional lawn care: Illinois is home to a small number of lawn care companies that range from the large corporate franchise operations to local, neighborhood companies that understand the local soil and climate conditions including common lawn diseases found in the area.
Professional lawn care companies in Illinois usually offer a number of programs designed to fit most homeowner's needs from just basic lawn fertilization and weed control, to extensive organic programs. Some lawn care companies offer mowing services, but most do not, although there are several that work with mowing / maintenance companies. Illinois requires licensed pesticide applicators.
Best time to fertilize: FALL, LATE FALL
Best time to aerate: FALL
Best time to control grubs: June / July
Best time to control crabgrass: March / April (pre-emergent)
Best time to control broadleaf weeds: Spring