Why Does the Grass in England Stay Green All Year?
England enjoys a mild climate, even though it is located far north of the equator. Even in winter, the moderating effects of the Atlantic helps protect the island from intense cold. Cool-season turf grasses relish this environment, remaining green even when temps occasionally dip down to 20 to 30 Fahrenheit and winter rains abound or in the sunny but comfortably cool summers with highs around 80 Fahrenheit. If warm-season grasses are grown, they prosper only in the warmest areas; they turn thatch-brown in the short, cool and moist winter days in England.
Both cool and warm season grasses are grown in England. Cool-season types dominate as they are best suited to the cooler, milder temps that exist most of the calendar year. Examples of English lawn grasses include creeping red fescue, perennial ryegrass, timothy, meadow grass (Poa) and bent grass. Warm season grasses are used only in the warmest summer areas in the coastal southwest, such as Bermuda grass or Japanese lawn grass.
England's mild summer temperatures, ample rainfall and long day lengths are perfect for a wide array of traditional cool-season lawn grasses. According to Trebrown Nurseries, the vast majority of England falls into U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone 8, where winter lows drop rarely get below 10 to 20 Fahrenheit for very long. Much like how winter cool season lawns in the American Deep South (also in USDA zone 8) look emerald green in winter, this also occurs in England. One notable difference is that in England, the length of a winter day is considerably shorter.
From spring to fall, the same cool season lawns that remained green across the cool, moist winter relish the longer days and daytime temperatures between 60 and 80 Fahrenheit. Moreover, England is frequently overcast in summer with the constantly possibility of a "pop up" shower. Again, ideal conditions for a grass are ample humidity, soil moisture and light. Soils are fertile and with a strong garden legacy in England, much attention is given to maintaining an impeccable landscape.
The English turf manager and groundskeeper also appropriately chooses the grass for the use of the landscape. Lawns that are rarely walked upon are planted with "softer" bladed turf grass species and those areas earmarked for strolling or athletic use must be resilient or have good "wear." For example, Eben Harrell reported in a 2008 article in "Time Magazine" that the courts at the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, the host of Wimbledon tennis major, were changed to perennial ryegrass to wear better from the increased play in July. Lawns that look or perform poorly are removed.
In the cooler months of winter, increasing mowing height or not mowing cool season grasses at all keeps the lawn looking its densest and deepest green, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Fertilizing of the lawn occurs in both fall and spring to ensure it grows in good health for the entire year.