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Are There Different Types of Grass?

What are the different types of grass? We explain. Learn what varieties of grass exist in order to choose the best grass seeds for your lawn.

Types of Grass: The Right Variety for Your Climate

Most of us assume that grass is grass and that the types growing in our own yards are the same types growing everywhere else. However, this is completely untrue. Of the two main grass varieties, there are many types that each requires special attention and care to achieve the best and healthiest growth. If you want to grow the thickest, greenest grass, it is important to understand what kind of grass you have in order to properly maintain it.

What are the Different Varieties of Grasses?

Grass types fall under two main varieties: Cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses. Grass varieties are typically located in specific areas where they tend to thrive and survive best. For example, a warm-season grass may not do as well in a place where you would typically find cool-season grasses growing.

Warm-season grasses thrive in places that experience regularly warm temperatures, such as the Southern region of the United States of America. These grasses originated in tropical regions, so they are well-adapted to surviving the heat. They do most of their growing during the hot summer months and then become dormant during the cooler months.

Cool-season grasses are capable of surviving in places that experience both hot temperatures and cold temperatures, such as New England, the Upper Midwest, the Northern half of California, Washington state, and Oregon. While cool-season grasses can survive extreme temperature fluctuations, they do most of their growing when it’s around 60-75°F, usually in the autumn or spring.

Through the center of the United States, determining grass varieties can become trickier. Some parts of the Midwest, middle east coast, and California fall into a place called the Transitional Zone. Because this center band of states is sandwiched between the cool-season grass and warm-season grass zones, certain types of both grass varieties can thrive there.

If you live in the Transitional Zone, you may think you will have the hardest time determining your grass variety and type. However, this can be challenging for any homeowner in any zone--often, lawns are made up of two or more grass types rather than just one.

Common Cool-Season Grass Variety Types

While there are many types of cool-season grasses, the most common types homeowners select are Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue, tall fescue, and perennial ryegrass. Typically, cool-season grasses are grown from seeds rather than sod. Often, these grass type seeds will be mixed together to achieve a lawn that will thrive well in certain conditions, such as high traffic areas, sunny areas, or heavily shaded areas. Many people opt for a mix of seeds that will provide good growth in areas that experience a mix of sun and shade.

Different grass types have different advantages. For example, Kentucky bluegrass is known to spread quickly. This makes it a wise choice for homeowners seeking to fill bare patches in their yards. Perennial ryegrass germinates quickly and grows in fine, thin blades--ideal for high-traffic areas of walking or playing. Fine fescue seeds are often mixed with other grass types because they have a high shade tolerance as well as a fast growth rate. Tall fescues sprout large root systems quickly, making them popular choices in the Transitional Zone as well.

Common Warm Season Grass Variety Types

Some common types of warm-season grasses are bahiagrass, bermudagrass, centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass, and zoysiagrass. Warm-season grasses can be grown from seed, but usually, they are grown from sod. These grasses are equipped to handle harsh, hot temperatures and tend to do most of their growing between 70-95°F.

During the winter, they become dormant and often turn a brownish color. Because of the color change, many people like to add perennial ryegrass seed to their warm-season variety. Because perennial ryegrass can thrive in cooler temperatures, this modification allows homeowners to keep a touch of greenness to their lawns during the cooler months.

Grass Type Selection for the Transitional Zone

Certain grass types from both the warm season and cool-season varieties can be successful in the Transitional Zone. Because states and regions found in this area can experience sweltering summers and freezing winters, selecting a grass type for this area can be tricky, but not impossible.

Homeowners in the Transitional Zone tend to favor types of grass that can thrive in hot weather and then stay dormant during colder weather, such as bermudagrass, centipedegrass, and zoysiagrass. However, homeowners in the Transitional Zone can determine their grass type selections based on other factors as well, such as their closeness to a coastal region. Often, Transitional Zone lawns will have to accept some negative effects with the positives, such as a brown lawn during the cold months due to the extreme changes in weather during the year.

Resources— Scotts, American Lawns