Lawn grasses

Common varieties of cool and warm season grass along with their characteristics

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COOL SEASON GRASSES

Lawn grasses common to the Northeastern & Midwestern United States


Kentucky Bluegrass
Poa pratensis

Description

  • Dark green perennial grass with medium texture.
  • Spreads by rhizomes and fills-in bare spots smaller than a baseball.
  • Forms a dense sod and is the primary variety in commercial sod.

Maintenance

  • Most varieties prefer full sun and moderate to high fertility.
  • Maintenance practices should focus on thatch prevention.
  • Leafspot disease is a problem on unimproved varieties.
  • Mow at 2" to 2-1/2" height with a sharp blade.

Establishment

  • Slow seed germination of 17 to 21 days.
  • Seed at 2 to 2-1/2 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
  • Can be crowded-out by faster germinating grass varieties.

Turf-Type Perennial Ryegrass
Lolium perenne

Description

  • Dark to medium green 'glossy' perennial grass with medium texture.
  • Bunch-type grass that won't fill-in bare spots on its own.
  • Main ingredient in "Penn State" grass seed mixture.

Maintenance

  • Prefers half-day to full sun and moderate to high fertility.
  • Brown patch and dollar spot diseases can be a problem.
  • Mow at 2" to 2-1/2" height with a sharp blade.

Establishment

  • Fast germination earns it the nickname "throw and grow."
  • Seed at 5 to 6 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
  • Crowds-out slower germinating varieties if over 20% of mix.

Red Fescue
Festuca rubra

Description

  • Dark green perennial grass with fine texture.
  • Spreads by short rhizomes.

Maintenance

  • Prefers shade and low to moderate fertility. 
  • Tolerates acid (low pH) soils. 
  • Low maintenance grass with good drought tolerance.
  • Red thread disease is a common problem. 
  • Mow at 2" to 2-1/2" height with a very sharp blade. 

Establishment

  • Moderate to fast seed germination of 5 to 7 days. 
  • Seed at 4 to 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet. 
  • Commonly used as part of general use lawn seed mixtures.

Turf-Type Tall Fescue
Festuca arundinacea

Description

  • Dark green perennial grass with coarse texture. 
  • Bunch-type grass known for its drought tolerance. 
  • Tough and durable grass with wide soil adaptation.
  • Shouldn't be mixed with other varieties of grass due to its texture.

Maintenance

  • Grows well in sun or shade. 
  • Brown patch disease can be a problem. 
  • Mow at 2-1/2" to 3-1/2" with a very sharp blade.

Establishment

  • Moderate to fast seed germination.
  • Seed at 6 to 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet (seed at heavier rate to promote finer texture).


WARM SEASON GRASSES

Lawn grasses common to the southern United States


Bahiagrass

Description

  • Low maintenance grass for infertile soils.
  • Medium to coarse leaf texture.
  • Cultivated varieties: 'Pensacola' is the most popular variety for lawns, with 'Argentine' second.

Maintenance

  • Apply a complete fertilizer in the spring (after the last frost) and in the fall.
  • Fertilizers including Iron (Fe) help prevent yellowing. Or supplemental iron apps can be made, usually during the summer.
  • Worst insect problem is mole crickets.
  • Mow at 3 to 4 inch height.

Establishment

  • Plant in the spring or early summer months.
  • Best established from sod or scarified seed.
  • Less desirable results from sprigs and plugs.

Bermudagrass

Description

  • Medium green, vigorous, dense turf.
  • Not recommended for home lawns, more commonly used on commercial sites and golf courses.
  • Most widely used warm season grass.

Maintenance

  • High maintenance grass.
  • Higher levels of fertilization are required than with most warm season grasses (3 to 6 applications).
  • Mow at 3/4 to 1-1/2 inch height. Reel type mowers provide the cleanest cut.
  • Nematodes are usually the worst pest.

Establishment

  • Plant in the spring or early summer months.
  • Sprigging is most common, but also sod and plugs. Common varieties are planted with seed.
  • Varieties include Cheyenne, Sahara, Sundevil, Jackpot and FloraTex™

Carpetgrass

Description

  • Low maintenance, medium textured, dense turf.
  • Grows on wet, acidic soils, and doesn't tolerate dry or salty conditions.

Maintenance

  • Mow at 1-1/2 to 2 inch height.
  • Do not over fertilize, especially with nitrogen.

Establishment

  • Plant in the spring or early summer months.
  • Seed or sprigs.

Centipedegrass

Description

  • Pale green with medium texture.
  • Low maintenance, slow growing.
  • Fair shade tolerance

Maintenance

  • Low fertility requirements. Subject to centipede grass decline so don't overfertilize, especially with nitrogen and phosphorus.
  • Don't fertilize too early or too late in the year.
  • Nematodes can be a serious problem.
  • Mow at 1-1/2 to 2 inch height.

Establishment

  • Plant in the spring or early summer months.
  • Best by sod or seed, also planted with sprigs and plugs.
  • Varieties include Oklawn, Centennial, Tifblair, and TennTurf.

Seashore Paspalum

Description

  • Dense, dark green turf with good wear tolerance.
  • Tolerates saline conditions and low light during extended rainy periods.
  • Poor shade tolerance.

Maintenance

  • Mow at 1 to 2 inch height.
  • Few insect and disease problems.

Establishment

  • Plant in the spring or early summer months.
  • Plant with sod or sprigs.
  • Varieties include Salam, Sea Isle 1 and Seaway.

St. Augustinegrass

Description

  • Dense, green to blue green turf.
  • Grows best in fertile, well drained soil.
  • Some salt and shade tolerance.

Maintenance

  • Mow at 1-1/2 to 4 inches -- use lower cutting heights on high maintenance lawns.
  • Fertilize 2 to 6 times a year, after last spring frost and not too late in the fall. Supplemental iron apps can be made to prevent yellowing, usually during the summer.
  • Chinch bug is the worst insect pest.
  • St. Augustine Decline Virus is a serious problem in some areas.

Establishment

  • Plant in the spring or early summer months.
  • Sodding, sprigging or plugging, not usually seeded.
  • Varieties include Bitterblue, Delmar, Floralawn, Floratine, Floratam, Jade, Palmetto, Raleigh and Seville.

Zoysiagrass

Description

  • Fine to medium texture.
  • Moderate drought tolerance.
  • Good salt, shade and traffic tolerance.

Maintenance

  • Mow at 1 to 2 inch height, best cut with a reel type mower. Height recommendations vary with species.
  • High maintenance turf, 3 to 6 fertilizations per season.
  • Very susceptible to nematodes.
  • Heavy thatch producer that requires periodic verticutting.

Establishment

  • Plant in the spring or early summer months.
  • Slow to establish.
  • Sod, plugs and sprigs.
  • Seed needs light to germinate -- cover with erosion cloth, but don't cover with soil.