Types Of Lawn & Turf Grass

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Growing a great lawn can be more difficult than some people expect. You need to take into consideration the area in which you live, and if you have cool or warm seasons. What kind of shade or sun you have in your yard, and annual rainfall. Choosing the right lawn grass type is vital if you want to have a full and lush yard that you can be proud of.

cool season and warm season map
Cool and Warm Season Map – source

What Type Of Lawn Grass Do I Have?

The best way to tell what kind of grass you have in your lawn is to first narrow down the way it’s growing. Your grass type is either is bunching or creeping.

Bunching grasses spread from the plant’s crown and need to be mowed high to protect the crown from the harsh sun.

Creeping grasses spread via runners along or below the ground and are more prone to thatch.

Also, pay attention to the climate where the grass is growing. If you live in the northern US, compare the grass in your yard with the cool season grasses first. If you live in the southern US, look through the warm season grasses first.

Perhaps take a photograph of your lawn, and compare it to the photo gallery just below. This will help you narrow down what type of grass you have in your yard.

Warm Season Grasses

Warm season grass types thrive in hot weather conditions typically found in the southern states of the US. Depending on the minimum temperature of the region, the grass might turn brown in the coldest months of winter.

If you live close to the transition zone or in a particular colder area of the south, you might want to consider winter overseeding. Some gardeners in the south over-seed their warm season lawns with something like ryegrass, to keep it looking green all year round.

Most warm season grass types are creeping grasses. They form a thick carpet of grass the older they get. It is important not to mow warm season grasses too short. If mowed too short, the sun will dry out the grass leaves too quickly, leaving you with a brown lawn.

warm season grasses region

Bermuda Grass

Known as Bermuda grass, Cynodon dactylon is a great grass to use if you live in a warmer area. The leaves have a finer texture than some other warm-season grasses, and have an extensive and deep root system. They can generally tolerate a little neglect without the yard suddenly going brown and dying. A relatively sturdy grass, Bermuda grass is great for use in homes where there are children and dogs, as it can stand up to the wear and tear. As well as in commercial landscapes, parks, and sports fields.

Although this grass can easily withstand temperatures up to 110F without problems, it is not cold weather hardy and will start to turn brown when the temperature drops below 55F. For best results, this grass needs to be used in full sun conditions as it will not perform well when placed in a lot of shade.

Read more: Bermuda Grass Facts

bermuda grass - Cynodon dactylon
Bermuda Grass

St. Augustine Grass

Also a warm-season grass, Stenotaphrum secundatum has a coarser leaf texture that makes it perfect for use in residential, industrial, and commercial locations, as it can easily withstand a lot of foot traffic without being matted down and breaking. This grass is perfect for people who live in coastal areas, as it can withstand tropical temperatures up to 105F and is moderately resistant to water. Like other warm-season grasses, St. Augustine grass will start to brown when the weather gets too cool, but this grass does great in shade.

To keep this grass looking its best, homeowners and business owners need to fertilize in the spring and the fall and allow the clippings from mowings to remain on the lawn. Deep soaking is preferred to shallow watering, as the latter will encourage the grass to form shallow roots that can’t withstand hot periods as well.

Read More: St. Augustine Grass

st augustine grass - Stenotaphrum secundatum
St. Augustine grass

Zoysia Grass

The leaf texture on Zoysia japonica is rather fine for a warm-season grass, which, in addition to the fresh green color, makes this grass look light and attractive on the lawn. Even though the grass has a finer texture, it is perfect in areas with a lot of use and can easily withstand a lot of foot traffic and even sports without dying or getting muddy and trampled down. This type of grass handles high temperatures relatively well, as long as they are below 100F, but will quickly brown both when the temperature drops or when irrigation is withheld during the summer.

For the best results, water on a regular basis, every four to seven days during hot and dry periods, and fertilize twice a year. Even though Zoysia grass does a great job withstanding infertile soil, as well as high salinity, for the best growth and appearance, fertilizing is necessary.

Read more: Zoysia grass

zoysia grass - Zoysia japonica
Zoysia grass

Centipede Grass

Eremochloa ophiuroides is a dense and dark grass that thickens and fills into a very lush and attractive lawn that is surprisingly low maintenance for how deep and rich the green color is. Centipede grass is often featured in lawn in hot and humid climates where there is a lot of rain and the summers are traditionally humid, as it can withstand a lot of water without being damaged or showing signs of drying up and burning out.

While Centipede grass can make a thick and lush lawn, it doesn’t stand up well to a lot of use and tends to recover slowly, so it’s not ideal for use in high-traffic areas. It’s much better to water this grass thoroughly and deeply rather than with smaller amounts of water at a time.

Read more: Centipede grass

Centipede grass - Eremochloa ophiuroides
Centipede grass

Bahia Grass

Great for use in the south, Paspalum notatum is an attractive grass that is resistant to attacks from insects, disease, and drought. One reason why Bahia grass is so popular is because it grows well in infertile and dry soils, such as sand and clay. Regular fertilization is important with this type of grass or else it will start to thin out over time, looking ragged and unkempt.

Because Bahia grass does really well in hot temperatures, it is often used in residential yards along the coast. During its growing season, this grass requires frequent mowing to ensure that it stays short and attractive. While it does really well in poor soil conditions, Bahia grass doesn’t grow well in soil that has a high pH level.

Read more: Bahia grass

Bahia Grass - Paspalum notatum
Bahia Grass

Kikuyu Grass

When given proper growing conditions, Pennisetum clandestinum will thrive and spread rather quickly, making it perfect for seeding a lawn when you want fast and thick results. Unlike many other types of warm-season grass, Kikuyu can tolerate shady conditions without poor growing performance. Some areas of the US consider this type of grass to be a weed due to how quickly it grows and how fast it can spread out of the designated area.

While susceptible to cold, Kikuyu is relatively hardy and can easily withstand diseases without being damaged. Additionally, this grass does a wonderful job recovering fairly quickly from severe injury and regular wear and tear. The light green color of this grass makes it sometimes confused with St. Augustine grass. Without regular care and maintenance, this grass can actually grow up to one inch each day.

Read more: Kikuyu grass

Kikuyu grass - Pennisetum clandestinum
Kikuyu grass

Buffalo Grass

Bouteloua dactyloides does not grow well in areas that have a lot of moisture and shade, but does extremely well in very hot and dry climates, where it will thrive with a little neglect. Unlike many types of grass that require a lot of maintenance and care to keep it growing and looking its best, buffalo grass doesn’t require fertilizer. Too much foot traffic can easily damage this grass and can actually cause it to die off, which is why it is not a great choice for some families to use in their yards.

Grass seeds will germinate quickly in about a week, and seeds will remain dormant over the winter if they are planted in the fall, which makes it easy to prepare your lawn for spring growth. While not a bright green color that many people expect from grass. Buffalo grass tends to be grayish-green especially as it gets taller, and has a fine appearance.

Buffalo Grass - Bouteloua dactyloides
Buffalo Grass

Cool Season Grasses

Cool season grasses are able to tolerate freezing temperatures during winter, in which they will go dormant. They do require regular intervals of rain throughout the year. During the summer months, whenever there is a drought lasting more than 1-2 weeks, the lawn will need extra watering. If you fail to water your cool season grass for more than 4-5 weeks in summer, it will start to die.

Cool season grasses typically have two growth burst in a calendar year. One in spring, and on after summer, right before fall sets in. These grasses go dormant in both the heat of summer and the cold of winter. This mechanism helps them to survive in even the harshest conditions.

cool season grasses region

Kentucky Bluegrass

The attractive dark green color of Poa pratensis is just one reason why Kentucky Bluegrass is so often used on commercial and residential lawns, as well as in parks, cemeteries, sports fields, and alongside the road. Another reason why this grass is so popular is because it thrives in cooler weather, and as long as it is watered regularly during hot weather, Kentucky Bluegrass will maintain its pleasant color and thick, lush appearance.

While some older varieties of this grass didn’t have the best disease resistance, newer varieties have been created that can withstand a number of diseases, such as dollar spot, tripe smut, and leafspot. It’s easy to control insects and prevent them from damaging this grass as long as you use a high-quality insecticide at the first sign of trouble so that the grass isn’t placed under too much stress.

Read More: Kentucky Bluegrass (poa pratensis)

Kentucky Bluegrass - Poa pratensis
Kentucky Bluegrass

Perennial Ryegrass

The thick density and dark brown color of Lolium perenne make it a great choice, especially when mixed with hardier grasses, to be used in play areas and for sports. Perennial Ryegrass does better in areas with moist summers and mild winters, but tends to be very adaptable and can be used in areas with hotter summers, especially when you choose a newer variety of this grass. It will go dormant when faced with a drought, but this grass will recover and its appearance will quickly improve once regular watering is resumed.

This type of grass does have more moderate water needs and needs to be deeply watered twice a week so that it doesn’t go dormant and so that the grass doesn’t begin to brown. It can easily be planted and grown in a variety of different types of soils, including clay or sand, heavy or light.

Perennial Rye Grass - Lolium perenne
Perennial Rye Grass

Rough-Stalked Bluegrass

While Poa trivialis looks very similar to Kentucky Bluegrass, there are a few distinctions that will help people tell the two types of grass apart. The first is that Rough-Stalked Bluegrass tends to be a light green in color instead of the darker green that most people associate with Kentucky Bluegrass. Additionally, Rough-Stalked Bluegrass has a finer texture, making it look a little wispy and thinner in appearance. This type of grass grows really well in shady and wet areas, making it ideal for use in yards that are surrounded by trees and don’t get a lot of sun, even in the hot of the summer.

Regular watering is important to keep Rough-Stalked Bluegrass looking its best, but even then it can tend to brown in the summer. In addition to the watering needs, this type of grass is not very durable and can easily be damaged by people walking or playing on the lawn.

Rough-Stalked Bluegrass - Poa trivialis
Rough-Stalked Bluegrass

Fine Fescue Grass

Homeowners who are looking for the finest blade grass that they can have in their lawn need to consider Lolium arundinaceum. Not only are the blades of this grass fine, but it grows quickly, the blades grow upright, which creates a nice uniformity, and the grass has an attractive deep green color. While Fine Fescue grass can be grown on its own and do well in cool summers, when bended with other types of grass, it becomes even more hardy and can last well even in warmer conditions.

Tends to go dormant during hotter months if it doesn’t receive enough water, but will quickly turn green again once it rains or regular watering is resumed. This is the most shade tolerant of all types of grasses, making it great for a shady yard, but it still does have to have some sun to grow and look its best.

Fine Fescue Grass - Lolium arundinaceum
Fine Fescue Grass

Tall Fescue Grass

Festuca arundinacea is generally more coarse than other types of cool-season grasses, and is great for use in transition zones. It stands up fairly well to a lot of foot traffic, which means that it is a good option for use in a home lawn, at a park, in a sports field, or in commercial landscaping. Unlike other cool-season grasses that will quickly wilt and brown in hot summer months, Tall Fescue grass grows well in a wide range of temperatures and is fairly hot-weather hardy.

Thanks to the deep root systems, this type of grass can withstand periods of dry weather without much of a problem. Tends to adapt well to shady areas, although this type of grass does need regular sunlight to grow and look its best.

Tall Fescue grass - Festuca arundinacea
Tall Fescue grass

Creeping Bentgrass

Many homeowners consider Agrostis stolonifera to be a troublesome grass weed that reproduces quickly via sprawling stems that can easily travel over and overtake a lawn. The stems produce roots that rapidly help the grass grow and establish itself. This type of grass takes a while to turn green in the spring and is often thought to be unattractive when used alone in a yard.

Creeping Bentgrass requires a lot of fertilizer to look its best and is prone to a number of diseases. Typically, this type of grass will produce thatch that is very thick and spongy, and will quickly brown in the heat of the summer. While it does well in maritime climates, owners need to make sure that they provide frequent and light watering to keep it looking its best.

Creeping Bentgrass - Agrostis stolonifera
Creeping Bentgrass

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