Best grass seed for thick, dark, new lawn in extreme northeast AL
Hi -- I have a question for the Southern lawn experts and enthusiasts out there.
I live in the extreme northeast part of Alabama, in northwestern Jackson County, north and slightly west of Scottsboro. We are in zone 7A, by both the USDA and Arbor Day maps. We are in the Transition Zone, in terms of lawns, according to the map on Wikipedia (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/9a/LawnGrassMap.jpg). Being in the Appalachian mountains, the elevation varies between about 600 - 1,800 feet above sea level.
I want to know what people would recommend as the best choice(s) for seeding a new lawn. I have a lot which will be clear-cut, leveled, and have the appropriate topsoil/compost/fertilizer/whatever put on it.
I am looking for a thick lawn which is a dark, lush green. Medium-green (i.e. yellow-green) lawns are UGLY, and I want no part of them.
In addition -- I raise German Shepherds for a living, so it needs to be something which can stand up to high traffic and wear & tear. For the same reason, it also needs to grow to full, thick maturity quickly (i.e. within a few months...not two years).
The property has a mix of direct sun, partial sun, and heavy shade.
The summers here are HOT (plenty of days in the 90s and above), and the winters are pretty chilly, with some light snow and several frosts and plenty of nights below freezing. It's humid year-round. We get 60-62 inches of rain per year.
I had been looking at various Fescues, such as the Pennington Seed "Rebel" varities, particularly "The Rebels Supreme Blend Grass Seed for Sun & Shade" (as seen on www.turf.com). The only thing I don't like about Fescues are (1) that the blades are very thin (as opposed to the nice wide-blade St. Augustine grass common where I grew up in southeast Florida), and (2) you can't mow them down to the civilized level of 1.25"-1.75"...you have to leave them at 2.5"-3".
So what would you folks recommend?