Many people are unaware of the grass type that grows on their lawn. Figuring out what grass variety you have can be an important step to caring for your lawn properly. There are many different types of grass, but they all share similar characteristics and behaviors during the year. We will go through some tips and tricks that will help you identify what type of grass is growing in your yard so you can know how to care for it accordingly!
There are two main categories of turf types, warm season and cool season. Warm-season grasses grow best during the spring, summer, and early fall. Warm-season grasses thrive in the lower 1/3 of the United States. Cool-season grasses do better in climates where temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit for a substantial amount of time every year (generally between October and May). Cool-season grasses can be found typically in the upper 2/3 of the United States.
Let’s start with warm-season grass characteristics. Warm-season grasses are typically a bit taller and have a more coarse texture, but the plant can be found in multiple types. Warm-season grasses grow best when temperatures are between 55-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm-season grasses go dormant during the cooler weather and will typically turn a light brown when soil temperatures get below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The easiest way to tell if you have warm-season grass is if it turns brown or yellow in the winter.
Warm-season grasses are the most drought-resistant grass species and require a fraction of the amount of water that cool-season grasses need to survive during hot/dry seasons. Common warm-season grass types include Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine, and Centipede. Think you have warm-season grass? Well, let’s take a closer look at the main types!
What Bermuda Grass Looks Like
Bermuda grass is a popular choice for lawns because it can withstand low mowing heights as well as tolerance to clay and heat. It spreads by stolons, rhizomes, and seed production - which gives its thick turf a leg up on weeds. Bermuda grass is identified by its narrow, pointed blade, just 1/8" wide. Most golf courses utilize Bermuda grass on the fairways because it is a resilient turf that rebounds quickly from damage. Bermuda grass is available in multiple cultivars, but all of them are warm-season grasses.
Bermuda grass does require a substantial amount of water to survive during hot/dry seasons and it prefers full sun exposure. One great thing about Bermuda grass is its resistance to pests - especially chinch bugs! Learn how to take care of a Bermuda grass lawn here.
What Zoysia Grass Looks Like
Zoysia grass is a close cousin to Bermuda grass but has more tolerance for shade and drought. It’s also identified by its deep-green color that turns silver with age, giving it the nickname “lawn gold.” Zoysiagrass is a tough type of grass that can make your lawn resilient to wear and tear. Durable, dense leaves keep the turf full under sun and shade conditions. The blades of Zoysia grass are narrow, sharp, and wiry.
Zoysia grass is very different than Bermuda grass in the sense that it requires less water, tolerates shade better, and can be cut at lower heights. Zoysiagrass has some great drought-tolerance characteristics because of its deep roots - allowing it to utilize groundwater during periods of dry weather. Learn how to take care of a Zoysia grass lawn here.
What St. Augustine Grass Looks Like
St. Augustine grass thrives in warm-arid regions, such as Florida and the Gulf Coast region. It has a broad blade about 1/4" wide with a rounded tip. The St. Augustine grass is a fast-growing, moderately shade tolerant Southern lawn grass, that has a medium- to dark-green color and very coarsely textured leaves which will provide dense and lush lawns when given proper care. Centipede grass and St. Augustine grass can often be confused, but there are important differences to consider if you want to properly identify your lawn type. St. Augustine grass typically has opposite leaves at nodes and a wider blade than Centipede.
St. Augustine grass is identified by its coarse texture and medium green color that turns yellow in the winter when soil temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a very high tolerance for salt, making it ideal for coastal regions, but does require more watering than Centipede grass or Bermuda grass during summer months. Learn how to take care of a St. Augustine grass lawn here.
What Centipede Grass Looks Like
Centipede grass is a slow-growing, coarsely leaved turf that can be used as a general-purpose low maintenance lawn. Because it grows horizontally, it requires less mowing and is easy to edge around garden beds and sidewalks. You can identify Centipede grass by looking at the blade, it will be pointed, with a notch. The grass is also light green in color, and will require more fertilizing if you want to keep it looking its best. Centipede grass has alternating leaves at the nodes and a more pointed leaf blade than St. Augustine grass.
Centipede grass is identified by its light green color, slow growth rate, and pointed blade. It has a fine texture that looks great in full sun or partial shade locations with average grass lawns. Centipedegrass requires less fertilizer than Bermudagrass but more water to maintain its lush appearance during hot summer months. Learn how to take care of a Centipede grass lawn here.
Ok, now that we have covered the warm season, let’s move on to its cooler sibling. Get it? That’s a little lawn humor for ya.
Cool-season grasses, on the other hand, grow best in climates with average temperatures 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit and need a lot more water. As a result, cool-season grasses tend to go dormant in the heat of summer and will begin to dry out, wilt, and lose the lush green color from the cooler spring months. Regular watering with a sprinkler or irrigation system can keep these grass species green during the extremely hot months. The main growing period for cool-season grass is in the spring and fall when the soil is between 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit. Common cool-season grasses include Fescue, Bluegrass, and Ryegrass.
What Fescue Looks Like
Fescue is the grass featured most often in shade. It’s known for its grassy texture and deep green color, though it turns yellow-green during periods of drought or heat stress. Fescue grass is technically categorized as cool season grass but can behave like ornamental grass because it has fine blades that grow close to the ground. Fescue is the most drought tolerant cool-season grass and can survive the high heat of summer with proper watering. Fescue grass has fine leaves, often looking like grass clippings or fur on your lawn green.
Fescue grass is identified by its grassy texture and deep green color, but can also have a yellow-green cast to it during periods of drought or heat stress. It grows best in shady locations with cool temperatures between 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit and tends to stay short throughout the growing season. Learn how to take care of a Fescue grass lawn here.
What Kentucky Bluegrass Looks Like
Kentucky bluegrass is identified by its light green color and thin blades. It's best suited for sunny, high-traffic lawns because it needs a higher amount of water to maintain growth than other types do. Bluegrass requires a grass-specific fertilizer and is slower to establish than other grasses. It has a fine leaf texture but can have a purple tint when it goes dormant during the summer months. It needs a modest amount of care, thrives in direct sunlight but can endure some shade, and requires well-drained soil. Kentucky bluegrass must be watered regularly and frequently fertilized. There are over 200 different types of Kentucky bluegrass. It's the most popular grass for residential lawns in the United States.
Bluegrass is identified by its light green color and thin blades. It has a fine texture but can have a purple tint when it goes dormant during the summer months. Bluegrass must be watered regularly and frequently fertilized with grass-specific fertilizer for best results, thrives in direct sunlight but can endure some shade, and requires well-drained soil. Learn how to take care of a Kentucky Bluegrass lawn here.
What Ryegrass Looks Like
Ryegrass grass is identified by its fine blades which grow in tufts of green grass with a yellowish-green color that turns gold when it goes dormant during the summer months. It’s often used for overseeding areas of lawn or establishing temporary grass cover over a grassy surface. Ryegrass grass has a fine blade that is very similar to fescue grass but with a greenish cast and finer texture. It can be identified by its grassy smell when you step on it and will turn from green to gold during the summer months.
Ryegrass grass is one of the most common turf types in home lawns throughout North America but requires a grass-specific fertilizer for best results. Learn how to take care of a Ryegrass lawn here.
Living in a transition zone means both warm season or cool season turf grow in your area. Identifying what type of grass is in your lawn is critical in order to keep your lawn healthy and looking great,however, this is not always easy to do. Knowing some simple facts about each type of turf will help you identify what type of grass you have in your lawn.
Warm season grasses go dormant during the cooler weather. Warm-season grass will typically turn a light brown when soil temperatures get below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Warm season grasses thrive when the soil temperature is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit
Warm season grasses are the most drought-resistant grass species and require a fraction of the amount of water that cool-season grasses need to survive during hot/dry seasons.
Common warm season grass types: Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine, Centipede
Cool season grasses go dormant in the heat of summer and will begin to dry out, wilt, and lose the lush green color from the cooler spring months. Regular watering with a sprinkler or irrigation system can keep these grass species green during the extremely hot months.
The main growing period for cool-season grass is in the spring and fall when the soil is between 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is not surprising to see multiple types of cool-season grass blended to avoid disease, pest problems and have a lawn that thrives in every area of your yard.
Common cool season grass: fescue, bluegrass, ryegrass
Ok, now you know what type of turf grasses are best for your area as well as their characteristics, if you still aren’t sure feel free to send us a photo of your lawn and we’ll try to help you identify it! Thanks for stopping by, and best of luck with your lawn!