Identify Your Grass: Grass Types
Eden explains the major types of grasses in detail in this article. These are – Centipede grass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, Ryegrass, Bermuda Grass, Zoysia Grass, and St. Augustine Grass (Floratam).
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You will also see how to understand your grass type, the two main types of grasses that are warm-season and cool-season grasses and you will know the most common grass types in the US. Refer to the below table that shows types and features of various grasses:
1. Centipede Grass
Centipede grass is warm-season, heat tolerant grass. It’s known for its low maintenance requirements and is a favorite of lawn owners. It needs the least attention and inputs than other grasses in its growing region. However, its U.S. use is primarily limited to the Southeast because it has specific climate and soil needs. This grass can be your choice if you reside in that region.
As Centipede Grass is a warm-season grass, its best growth period comes during warm weather in the late spring through summer months. It is more sensitive to cold than various other warm-season grasses. Ironically, this grass can endure winters for years if grown in mild climates.
Centipede is not used much as a lawn grass because of its climate and soil requirements. It grows well in the sandy, acidic soils and warm winters of the Southeast, from the Carolinas across the Southern Coastal Plains to the Texas Gulf Coast.
2. Kentucky Bluegrass
Many lawn owners prefer growing Kentucky bluegrass in the northern parts of the U.S. When it’s provided the suitable growing conditions and care, this grass produces a lush and dense lawn. However, this grass requires high levels of maintenance to look at its best. Although, the results are worth it. Kentucky bluegrass can be your perfect choice, depending on your lawn care goals and grass-growing region.
Kentucky bluegrass is characterized as a cool-season grass and is perennial. This means it lasts for a long time and is enduring and continually recurring year after year. It grows most aggressively during the cooler months of fall and spring. This grass has the greatest potential to endure cold of all the common cool-season U.S. lawn grasses.
Kentucky Bluegrass has relatively shallow roots as compared to Tall Fescue. Due to this, it has lower tolerance for heat and drought. Traditionally, this restricted the extensive use of it in the south where higher temperatures and humidity favor warm-season grasses, for example Zoysia grass. Even then, the people who like Kentucky Bluegrass in warmer areas, aren’t discouraged.
3. Tall Fescue
Tall fescue can tolerate and is adaptable to cold, drought, heat and shade. The lawn owners are provided with excellent options for improving lawn resilience and durability if tall fescue is grown in its preferred zone. This all-round grass can be an outstanding choice for you depending on your lawn goals and the zone where you live.
Tall fescue is a cool-season grass well suited for northern lawns. It is also grown in southern transitional turf grass regions where warm-season and cool-season grasses meet their climate requirements.
Tall fescue can tolerate shade better than all other cool-season grasses except fine fescues. It germinates more quickly than Kentucky bluegrass. Its natural vast root system can spread upto 2 to 3 feet deep, that is much deeper in comparison to other cool-season grasses.
Perennial Ryegrass is common all over the United States, although the way it is used varies from region to region. People admire it because of its fast germination rate and quick establishment. This fine-bladed grass is much valued in established northern and southern lawns in need of temporary winter color.
4. Bermuda Grass
Bermuda grass is characterized as a perennial warm-season grass, which means it comes back year after year in the proper climatic conditions and grows vigorously from late spring through the hot summer months.
Bermuda grass is more susceptible to cold climate than warm-season Zoysia grass or cool-season grasses such as turf-type tall fescue. This lack of cold tolerance restricts its usage in the northern grass-growing region.
Bermudagrass is known for its extraordinary heat and drought endurance. These qualities of Bermuda grass lead many U.S. lawn owners to rely on it. However, the climate requirements restrict its widespread use. It grows well in sites with full, direct sun and good drainage.
5. Zoysia Grass
Zoysia grass is able to withstand heat, drought, heavy foot traffic and other challenges. In its suitable growing zones, this grass is capable of providing a beautiful, dense lawn with minimum effort from the lawn owner.
It is a warm-season grass, so its growth starts in late spring and peaks through the hot summer months. Also, it is perennial so it comes back every year when grown in appropriate conditions. It is apt for the lawns of southern states, from southeast to parts of California. Zoysia’s heat and cold tolerance enables it to prosper in this region.
Zoysia grass grows slower than other lawn grasses but it creates a dense carpet of grass under your feet. This thick and dense growth is favorable for warm-climate sod producers and for families who use their lawns for games and entertainment purposes.
6. Fine Fescue
Fine fescue is a perennial cool-season grass. Lawns in cool areas with plenty of shade are suitable to grow fine fescue. This type of fescue is often a grass breed to produce a northern shade-tolerant grass that requires low moisture and fertilizer. In most regions, this grass stays green throughout the year and is drought tolerant.
There are five varieties of fine fescue. They are Hard fescue, Sheep fescue, Chewings fescue, Creeping red fescue and Slender creeping red fescue. They are often sold as a blended seed mix for better turf vigor. These grasses are well-suited for temperate and cooler regions, especially maritime and low mountainous areas.
Fine fescues have medium green to blue leaves with a fine texture. Many people are confused in determining if they are growing fine fescue or tall fescue. You can differentiate it as fine fescue has delicate leaves and outstanding performance in shade locations.
7. St. Augustine Grass (Floratam)
Floratam is a hybrid cultivar of St. Augustine grass. It is a warm-season grass that thrives in hot summer climates and goes dormant in cool winters. It is a coarse-textured, dark-green colored grass that grows badly in the shade and cannot tolerate cold.
Floratam turns dormant and loses its color in the winter. It quickly turns green again in the spring. Its density, texture and softness of the grass restricts its capacity to tolerate heavy use – it is not suitable for playgrounds. You can mow it using a rotary or reel mower. The best height to keep it is 3 to 4 inches.
If you fail to water it at the time of drought, its dark green color will fade and it may die. If you grow Floratam in moderate to highly fertile soil offering heavy irrigation, it may produce extreme thatch. This is a major problem with floratam, if you fail to remove the thatch regularly, you may find it difficult to mow the grass.
Bluegrass, rye and fescue all are characterized as cool-season grasses. Perennial ryegrass is a finer grass as compared to tall fescue and bluegrass. When healthy, each blade of its blade is straight and bright green.
Tall fescue is tougher than ryegrass and bluegrass. Ryegrass and bluegrass are a bit on the delicate side when used for a lawn. Pets can easily damage these grass types and any urine should be well diluted to prevent brown or dead patches.
Bluegrass and ryegrass likes well-drained soil whereas fescue prefers soil that is rich and high in clay. However, both perennial ryegrass and tall fescue need an average amount of water, about an inch per week during the growing season.
How To Identify Grass Type?
You should know how to identify your lawn grass as it is important and will help you to meet its needs and grow a beautiful and lasting lawn. If you are creating a new lawn from scratch then knowing what grass you have is simple. But if you bought a lawn then how will you know the grass type? Eden has mentioned some steps for you to help you identify your lawn grass, narrow the field and put you and your lawn on the path to success:
- Know Your Grass Growing Region
- Identify Common Cool-Season Lawn Grasses
- Identify Common Warm-Season Lawn Grasses
- Observe Lawn Grass Features
1. Know Your Grass Growing Region: Your location provides the first hint in identifying your grass type. Lawn grasses too have climate limits like landscape shrubs and flowers. Your grass must suit your growing region to survive winters and summers year after year.
2. Identify Common Cool-season lawn grasses: Next, you can observe the characteristics and features (that are mentioned above) of the most common cool-season grasses found in U.S.. lawns that will help you to identify your grass type.
3. Identify Common Warm-Season Lawn Grasses: Similarly, you can identify the common warm-season lawn grasses found in the U.S. lawns with the help of characteristics and features (that are mentioned above).
4. Observe Lawn Grass Features: Once you have concluded your search based on your growing region, now observe the similarities and differences between common grasses to help you identify your grass type.
What Are The Warm-Seasons Grasses?
Warm-season grasses are those that grow vigorously when temperatures are over 75 degrees. These grasses prevail in the south, southeast and southwest of the U.S., where summers are long and average temperatures are high. The various warm-season grasses are Centipede grass, Zoysia grass, St. Augustine grass and many more.
When temperature falls and in winter, warm-season grasses become dormant. They turn brownish-yellow when temperatures begin to drop, but do not die. As spring arrives and the weather warms up, they turn green again. If summers are extremely hot and dry, they may also go through a period of summer dormancy. However, rain or frequent watering will revive them.
What are the Cool-Season Grasses?
Cool-season grasses are grass types that thrive well in the cool weather of winters and spring. Extreme cold winters and moderate summers are no problem for these all-round grass types. These types of grasses offer a beautiful and green lawn no matter how cold it gets.
Some of the most common cool-season grasses are Kentucky bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass and Fine fescue. These are usually used for creating new lawns, overseeding troubled patches in yards and for livestock grazing.
What Are The Most Common Grass Types In The US?
Different types of grass are used for creating lawns in different regions of America. Some varieties have thick blades, broad leaves and shiny texture while others have thin blades, narrow leaves and coarse texture. Eden has listed some of the most common grass in the U.S. which can be found in abundance across different states.
- Fescues: They have wide, dark green blades. Fine fescues have fine leaves with thinner blades. On the other hand, Tall fescues have broad leaves and flat blades.
- Bluegrass: There are two types of it, Kentucky bluegrass and Rough bluegrass. It grows up to 24 inches in height and you can easily recognize it by its v-shaped leaves.
- Ryegrass: Its leaves are shiny, narrow and bright green in color. The new leaves are folded.
- Zoysia: It is light-green colored grass that usually turns brown during dormancy. The leaf blades are smoother and can maintain their green color much longer than other warm-season grasses.
- St. Augustine: It has rough texture and has thick, rounded blades. It forms a dense-green carpet with darker green, thick and flat leaves.
Eden hopes you find this article useful for information about different grass types found in the U.S. Identify your grass type and choose the grass that is well-suited to your growing region and also according to your lawn goals.
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