Warm season grasses types

Grass Types: Warm Season vs. Cool Season

The information below can help you determine the type of grass in your lawn and when you should fertilize. Still unsure? Contact your local Cooperative Extension System office, consult your local nursery or check online resources such as BioAdvanced.com.

Cool-season Grasses

Kentucky BluegrassFescue GrassBentgrassRyegrass

Cool-season grasses include Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescues, Bentgrass and Ryegrasses. They are often referred to as “northern grasses” because they are hardy and well adapted to cold winter climates. Cool-season grasses grow vigorously in the cool months of fall and spring. Growth slows in the heat of the summer. These grasses go dormant and turn brown in cold winter areas where the soil freezes. Where winters are not quite as cold and the ground doesn’t usually freeze, such as in the West and the transition zones of the Midwest, cool-season lawns stay green all winter. With proper water, they also stay green all summer.

The most important time to fertilize cool-season lawns is in fall and spring, prior to periods of vigorous growth. In cold winter areas, you should not fertilize in spring until the grass is “greening-up” and has started to grow. In most areas, cool-season grasses are not fertilized in the heat of summer. Summer feeding can weaken the turf and promote disease.

Ready to get started? Try Triple Action Lawn Fertilizer Plus. It feeds all 3 levels of your lawn – grass, roots and soil. Or try All-In-One Weed & Feed to kill listed weeds like Dandelion and Clover, plus kill Crabgrass.

Warm-season Grasses

BermudagrassSt. AugustinegrassCentipedegrassZoysiagrassCarpetgrass

Warm-season grasses include Bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass, Centipedegrass, Zoysiagrass, Bahiagrass and Carpetgrass. They are often called southern grasses because they grow best in hot summer areas and lack the winter hardiness of the cool-season grasses. Depending on location, warm-season grasses grow vigorously from mid- to late spring through summer and into early fall. They usually turn brown and go dormant in winter.

The most important time to feed warm-season lawns is from spring through summer and, in some southernmost areas, into fall. Warm-season lawns should not be fertilized prior to active growth in spring (wait until you have mowed the lawn twice) or late into the fall (six weeks prior to the average date of the first frost). Either practice can weaken the turf and lessen hardiness.

Try BioAdvanced 3-In-1 Weed & Feed For Southern Lawns. It weeds and feeds, PLUS prevents weeds and Crabgrass up to 6 MONTHS. Learn more.

Remember: Your local Cooperative Extension System office can give you exact fertilizer timing for your area and grass type.

What Is the Best Warm-Season Grass for Your Lawn

Growing Regions

Grass professionals divide the United States into separate grass-growing regions based on cool and warm climates, humidity and aridity. Warm-season lawn grasses do best across the country’s southern tier of states and up into the challenging midsection known as the transition zone, where cool, warm, humid and arid regions meet and merge. But choosing the right warm-season grass seed for your lawn goes beyond these climate basics to additional regional differences that affect lawn health and maintenance.

Regional norms for soil pH are especially important because soil pH affects your lawn’s ability to use soil nutrients, including those you add through fertilizers. Most lawn grasses do best where soil testing reveals pH in the slightly acidic to neutral range of 5.8 to 7.0, where essential nutrients stay readily available. Lawns with soil pH outside this range may need applications of lime or other soil amendments to restore pH balance and nutrient availability.
Matching your grass to soil conditions helps reduce labor and the need for added fertilizers and amendments. For example, Centipede grass flourishes in acidic, low-pH soil common to the Southeast, but can’t tolerate high-alkaline soils of the Southwest. Centipede grass, like Bahiagrass, experiences iron deficiencies in alkaline soil.1 Bermudagrass or Zoysia grass, which both tolerate higher soil pH and salinity, are better choices in such areas.

Maintenance Needs

All lawn grasses require mowing and fertilizing, but they vary significantly in those needs. Matching your grass to desired maintenance levels helps keep lawn care from becoming a burden. Bermudagrass is the fastest growing common warm-season lawn grass.2 Its aggressive, vigorous growth creates a dense, durable lawn — but it can mean twice weekly mowing and monthly fertilization during peak summer growth.
Zoysia grass needs less fertilizer and mowing, but thatch buildup can require dethatching, especially on fertilized lawns.5 Centipede grass has the slowest growth rate of common warm-season lawn grasses, and very low fertilizer needs. Pennington Centipede Grass Seed & Mulch offers a low-growing, very low-maintenance lawn with little input on your part.
For any type of lawn grass, mowing should be done as needed to keep the grass at its recommended height for optimal health and good growth above and below ground. This means never removing more than one-third of the blade during any single mowing. The faster the growth, the more frequently you should mow.

Heat Tolerance

Common warm-season lawn grasses in the U.S. came from tropical and subtropical regions around the world. As a result, these grasses are well-adapted to high soil and air temperatures. They stay green and growing during hot weather that would cause cool-season grasses to turn dormant and brown.
Bermudagrass is extremely heat tolerant — daytime temperatures of 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit are optimal.2 Pennington Bermudagrass Blend yields dense, resilient, heat-tolerant lawns. Zoysia grass, Centipede grass and Bahiagrass also tolerate high heat very well. Bahiagrass tolerates high humidity common in the hot Southeast, as well. Pennington Pensacola Bahiagrass offers greater tolerance to heat (and cold) than common bahiagrasses do.

Cool-Season vs. Warm-Season Grasses Explained

Let’s face it; most of the time grass selection for new homeowners is probably not very high on the priority list. When asked what type they want, most people would probably just say “green”. Yes, that’s very important, but in order to achieve this green lawn there’s actually many factors that need to be considered first. The amount of sunlight, soil conditions, climate, and the amount of maintenance you’re willing to put into it are all crucial in determining the best lawn grass for the individual. But what’s the most important factor? The very first thing to consider when selecting a lawn type is whether you need a cool-season or warm-season grass. This will instantly narrow down your selection of grass seed and make your choice easier. Once this choice is made, plug in the remaining factors and the otherwise confusing decision of grass selection becomes clearer.

The Biological Difference

So what’s the difference between a cool-season grass and a warm-season grass, and how do you know which one is right for you? Biologically speaking, it all comes down to how the grass produces energy. If you paid attention in high school biology class, you may remember the process called photosynthesis. This is where plants absorb sunlight and carbon dioxide from the air and turn it into energy, or carbohydrates. Without getting too in-depth, cool-season grasses are known as C3 (cool weather loving, temperate) while warm-season grasses are known as C4 (warm weather loving, tropical). Basically, C3 grasses have evolved to fix carbon dioxide more efficiently in cooler environments, and have an optimum temperature range of 60-75 degrees F. On the other hand, warm-season C4 grasses use a slightly different process to produce their energy and prefer temperatures in the 80-95 degree range. In the process, C4 grasses use less water to make dry matter. Which one works best in your area will be largely determined by the latitude and climate of your area, and the unique attributes of the grass species involved.

Cool-Season Grasses

In the northern United States, cool-season grasses are the dominant types used although there is some overlapping with warm-season types. This cool-season group of grasses includes the very popular Kentucky bluegrass, both tall and fine fescues, and ryegrass family. Cool-season grasses tend to green up faster in the spring and stay green longer into autumn due to their preference for cooler temperatures. They also do most of their growing in these time frames. During the peak of summer, if water is lacking and temperatures are high it’s not uncommon for these types of grasses to go dormant until water becomes available again. With the exception of tall fescue, these types of grasses work well when blended with each other. When used in blends, they help to avoid monocultures which can be susceptible to diseases and pest problems. Blends are also a great way to “customize” your lawn so that it will thrive in every area of your yard. For example, our Sun & Shade seed blend contains a mix of three types of cool-season grasses, both sun-loving and shade-loving. Over time, these grasses will tend to group together in areas they feel the most comfortable, providing your yard with lawn that will thrive in every area.

Warm-Season Grasses

Warm-season grasses are primarily used in the southern portion of the United States, although some species can actually be found all the way up towards the Canadian border. Grasses in this group include bermudagrass, buffalograss, and zoysia grass. Unlike their cool-season relatives, these grasses take longer to green up in the spring and tend to go dormant quicker in the autumn. However, they’re able to thrive in summer heat that would otherwise fry the cool-season grasses. They also require only a fraction of the water that cool-season grasses use. For this reason they are used extensively in water-wise landscapes and other areas where irrigation is limited. Buffalograss, a North American native grass, is the most drought tolerant of the group and can actually be successfully used for lawns as far north as Montana and the Dakotas. Blending is not recommended for warm-season type grasses due to their differing growth habits, water requirements, colors, and textures.

Should Cool and Warm-Season Grasses Ever be Mixed?

For most residential lawns, cool-season grasses should never be mixed with warm-season grasses. Doing so results in a very non-uniform, patchwork-like lawn full of differing colors and textures. The only exception to this rule is when a southern bermudagrass lawn is overseeded with perennial ryegrass to provide wintertime green while the bermudagrass is dormant. For more information on this technique, see this article. On the other hand, mixing cool-season grasses with warm-season grasses is a great idea for some pastures. Doing so ensures continuous forage production for livestock and other grazing animals.

Despite its humble appearance, grass is actually a very complex and fascinating plant. There is no other type of plant that can survive the conditions we put in through yet still perform its important role in the landscape year after year. Understanding the basic differences between cool-season and warm-season grasses helps to take some of the confusion out of selecting the right grass for your lawn.

Cool & Warm Season Grasses

Turfgrasses perform more effectively within temperatures that most closely match their growth patterns.

Few regions are consistently within the optimum temperature range. Many areas do provide those temperatures for varying periods of the year.

Turfgrasses are divided into two temperature categories: cool season and warm season.

Cool-season turfgrasses are those species with optimum growth at temperatures between 60 and 75°F (15.5 to 24°C). Cool season grass species include creeping bentgrass, fine fescue, tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, annual ryegrass and perennial ryegrass.

Warm-season turfgrass are those species with optimum growth at temperatures between 80 and 95°F (27 to 35°C). Warm season grass species include Bahiagrass, bermudagrass, carpetgrass, St. Augustine and zoysiagrass.

To make it easier to determine the appropriate species selection, geographic areas are designated as zones according to temperature range. Warm-season and cool-season are two of these zones as shown on the US map.

Within geographic zones, other climatic conditions occur which further impact turfgrass growth. Two primary factors are conditions which are predominantly humid or predominantly arid.

Some geographic areas are designated by combining those factors with the temperature range. For the US, that combination yields four zones: cool/humid, cool/arid, warm/humid and warm/arid.

A fifth geographic area, designated as the transition zone, occurs where conditions from all four of the other zones are present. This is the most difficult zone in which to grow turfgrasses. It is typically too cold in the winter for the warm season grasses and too hot in the summer for the cool season grasses.

Some people compensate for this dilemma by growing warm season grasses during the time of the year when temperatures favor them. They then overseed the warm-season grasses with species of cool-season grasses that will grow when temperatures favor them. The transition zone is shown on the US map.

Plant breeders have developed multiple varieties within each of the species. These display distinctive characteristics in areas of: density, color, leaf texture, shade tolerance, wear tolerance, heat tolerance, drought tolerance, disease resistance, fertility and maintenance requirements, and carbon footprint.

To find the best match in cool-season grasses view this chart.

To find the best match in warm-season grasses view this chart.

Warm Season Grasses & When to Use Them

By Marty Ross

Ensure your lawn has every advantage for success by choosing the right grass for your region. Grow a type of grass that naturally flourishes in your climate and conditions. Turf grasses, those suitable for lawns, are divided into two general categories, warm-season and cool-season. If you live in the southern half of the United States, most of the grasses you see are warm-season.

What Are Warm-Season Grasses?

Warm-season grasses are turf types that thrive when temperatures are over 75 degrees. In the south, southeast, and southwest, where summers are long and average temperatures are high, warm-season grasses are the best.

In the fall and winter, warm-season grasses become dormant. They turn a tawny brown when temperatures begin dropping, but they do not die. These grasses turn green again in the spring when the weather warms up. If summers are especially hot and dry, warm-season grasses may also go through a period of summer dormancy. However, rain or regular watering, will revive them.

Throughout the growing season, a Gilmour Flexogen hose and Pattern Master Circular Sprinkler will help take care of your warm-season lawn when rainfall is not sufficient. The circular sprinkler is easy to adjust. No matter the shape of your lawn, it helps you water only the dry areas of grass without watering sidewalks and driveways.

Types of Warm Season Grasses

  • Zoysia grass
  • Zoysia is a popular heat- and drought-tolerant grass with tufty green foliage. It grows best in sun but tolerates light shade. Zoysia lawns are dense and the grass crowds out weeds. It is among the most durable warm-season grasses, resisting wear and tear. Zoysia lawns are usually established from sprigs (often called plugs) or with rolls of sod. The grass spreads by runners, or stolons, which are horizontal stems that take root along their length.

    This heat-loving grass waits for warm weather in late spring before turning green. It does not tolerate low temperatures and turns brown early in the fall. Zoysia lawns are susceptible to a build-up of thatch, which is a layer of dead runners, stems, and roots just above the surface of the soil. Over-fertilizing is a common cause of thatch in Zoysia lawns. To control thatch, rent a de-thatching machine or a core aerator. Grub worms can also be a problem. Grubs are the larval form of various beetles, and they eat the roots of grass plants. Warm-season grass types, including Zoysia, are more susceptible to grub damage than cool-season lawns.

  • Bermuda grass
  • This hard-working grass is sometimes known as the “sports turf of the south”. It is a common lawn for parks, golf courses, and sports fields. It is well-adapted to many soil types. Bermuda grass thrives in hot weather. It is native to tropical and subtropical climates where rainfall is plentiful. Therefore, it will become dormant in a drought. Nevertheless, Bermuda grass turns green again when watered.

    Bermuda grass spreads by vigorous stolons and rhizomes (underground stems) and can quickly invade flower beds. When weeding, look for grass shoots and dig them out. Although you cannot control all Bermuda grass in your yard, metal edging around a flower bed will substantially slow it down.

  • St. Augustine grass
  • Gardeners in coastal areas of the south are most familiar with St. Augustine grass, a tough and adaptable turf well-suited to heat. St. Augustine grass prefers moist, sandy soils and grows well in areas with salt air. It is among the best-performing warm-season grasses for shady spots, but becomes thin in dense shade. In the fall, St. Augustine grass stays green longer than Bermuda grass. It spreads by stolons and is most frequently grown from plugs or laid down as sod.

    St. Augustine grass needs little care in areas with 20 inches or more of rainfall annually. You’ll need to water more frequently to keep your St. Augustine lawn dense, green, and free of weeds in areas where rainfall is less plentiful. Chinch bugs and grub worms can be a problem. Chinch bugs eat grass stems at the base of the plants while grubs eat the roots. Good watering, mowing and fertilizing will help prevent both pests.

  • Buffalo grass
  • Buffalo grass once fed great herds of bison on the Great Plains. Today, it is better known as a hardy, drought-tolerant turf grass, tough enough for cold conditions but best in hot environments. It can be established from seed, plugs, or sod and should be planted in sunny places. It is an especially low-maintenance turf that needs less mowing than other warm-season lawns.

    In hot, dry summers, buffalo grass may turn brown, but it turns green again when rainy weather returns. Overwatering or fertilizing in dormant periods will simply encourage weeds. Buffalo grass is recommended for slopes and terraces where water drains quickly. Clay soils and dry sites are also ideal for drought-tolerant buffalo grass.

  • Centipede grass
  • This heat-tolerant grass grows well in sandy soils and thrives in the sunny regions of the southeast. It tolerates light shade, but grows best in full sun. Centipede grass spreads by stolons and can be grown from seed, sprigs, or sod. It grows very slowly and does not require frequent mowing. Centipede grass has a shallow root system and will need more watering during dry spells.

    Although Centipede grass is more cold-tolerant than St. Augustine, it will die if exposed to temperatures below 5 degrees for a long period of time.

Gardeners who move to warm southern areas from the north often wish to bring their favorite cold-climate turf types, but bluegrass and other cold-season grasses struggle in the south. Warm-season grasses are adapted to both the warm and humid or warm and arid climates of the south and southwest.

Grass Growth and Regrowth for Improved Management

Although animals eat all year round, there is no “all season” plant to use as forage. Knowing that some plants are C3 (cool season, temperate) and some plants are referred to as C4 (warm season, tropical) is a basic key to having quality forage all year long. But understanding the physiology (internal chemical changes) of both can even further improve the management of forages.

The science:
C3 and C4 plants both use the process of photosynthesis to convert light energy and atmospheric CO2 into plant food energy (carbohydrates).

Sunlight

Carbon dioxide (CO2) + water (H2O) -> carbohydrate (food) + oxygen (O2)
green plant material

C3 and C4 plants differ in the leaf anatomies and enzymes used to carry out photosynthesis. These differences are important with respect to their optimal growing conditions, N and water-use efficiency, forage quality, and seasonal production profile.

C3 plants (cool season)

The science:
C3 plants are called temperate or cool-season plants. They reduce (fix) CO2 directly by the enzyme ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase (RUBPcase) in the chloroplast. The reaction between CO2 and ribulose bisphophate, a phosphorylated 5-carbon sugar, forms two molecules of a 3-carbon acid. This 3-carbon acid is called 3-phosphoglyceric acid and explains why the plants using this chemical reaction are called C3 plants. The 3-phosphoglyceric acid molecules move out of the chloroplast to the cytoplasm and are used to make hexose, sucrose, and other compounds. The enzyme ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase also triggers a reaction where oxygen splits ribulose bisphophate into a 2-carbon acid and a 3-phosphoglyceric acid. The 2-carbon acid is respired to carbon dioxide via photorespiration and basically lost to plant function. As much as 15-40% of the light energy taken into the C3 plants is lost via photorespiration which rises with increasing temperatures.

Thus, C3 plants fix CO2 more efficiently in cooler environments.

The ramifications:
C3 plants have an optimum temperature range of 65-75 degrees F. Growth begins when the soil temperature is 40-45 degrees F. C3 plants become less efficient as the temperature increases, but they provide a higher percentage of crude protein than C4 plants. Cool temperatures of early spring also effect the activity of soil organisms which release nitrogen from organic reserves. Thus, C3 plants respond to nitrogen fertilizer during this season. Cool-season grasses are productive in the spring and fall because of the cooler temperatures during the day and night, shorter photoperiods, and higher soil moisture. During the summer, growth is reduced and dormancy is induced by high temperatures and low precipitation. However, in fall, when temperatures drop and moisture is more available, growth resumes.

There is evidence that summer dormancy is associated with mismanagement of seed heads. Timely removal of seed heads, at the late-jointing to early boot stages, triggers growth of the second cycle of tillers before the onset of hot, dry weather. It may be possible to increase summer productivity in this manner.

There is some evidence indicating that conditions necessary for floral induction in C3 plants are different from C4 plants. Cool-season grasses may require short days and/or low temperatures in the fall or early spring (a vernalization period) before the seedhead develops from the meristem (growing point). There also seems to be a need for the tiller (shoot, new plant) to reach a certain size before vernalization can commence. Timothy does not require this vernalization but requires long days to flower.

C3 plants can be annual or perennial. Annual C3 plants include wheat, rye, and oats. Perennial C3 plants include orchardgrass, fescues, and perennial ryegrass. The degradation of C3 grasses in the rumen of an animal is often faster than C4 grasses because of the thin cell walls and leaf tissue and are therefore often of higher forage quality.

C4 plants (warm season)

The science:
C4 plants are often called tropical or warm season plants. They reduce carbon dioxide captured during photosynthesis to useable components by first converting carbon dioxide to oxaloacetate, a 4-carbon acid. This is the reason these plants are referred to as C4 plants. Photosynthesis then continues in much the same way as in C3 plants. This type of photosynthesis is highly efficient and little fixed CO2 is lost through photorespiration.

The ramifications:
C4 plants are more efficient at gathering carbon dioxide and utilizing nitrogen from the atmosphere and recycled N in the soil. They also use less water to make dry matter. They grow best at 90-95 degrees F. They begin to grow when the soil temperature is 60-65 degrees F. Forage of C4 species is generally lower in protein than C3 plants but the protein is more efficiently used by animals. This efficiency may result because C3 plants contain a lot of non-protein nitrogen (NPN), very labile (changeable) in form, which pass into the gut or is absorbed directly into the portal vein leading to the liver and not incorporated into microbial proteins by rumen microflora. It is well established that NPN levels may exceed the liver’s capacity to filter it out, thus it enters the systemic blood and causes ammonia intoxication.

Warm-season grasses are specifically triggered by daylengths so latitudes should be considered in selecting warm-season grass species. They are most productive during the warmer summer months. Often, cool-season and warm-season species are used in combinations to provide forage throughout much of the year. With ample soil moisture, warm season grassses may respond to nitrogen fertilizer but because irrigation is often expensive, supplemental nitrogen is seldom applied.

C4 plants can be annual or perennial. Annual C4 plants include corn, sudangrass, and pearlmillet. Perennial C4 plants include big bluestem, indiangrass, bermudagrass, switchgrass, and old world bluestems.

Practical Applications

In recent years, warm-season grasses have been recommended for seeding retired cropland. Efforts are also underway to improve rangelands by introducing species that have disappeared due to over grazing. To ensure persistence, pastures can be established using cool-season and warm-season grasses. Cool-season grasses could be utilized for fall, winter, and spring grazing and the warm-season grasses would flourish in the summer. In spring, the warm-season grasses should be protected until they can better withstand defoliation. To determine when that is, monitor the root system for the production of new tillers.

Warm-season grasses reach their peak of production about a month later than cool-season grasses. Although warm-season grasses produce less yield, their virtue is to provide superior midsummer grazing when cool-season grasses are semi-dormant. Both types can be stockpiled during late summer and fall to provide maintenance energy for livestock during the winter months.

Warm-season (C4) grasses normally contain less protein than is found in cool-season (C3) grasses. This might be expected because warm-season grasses are seldom fertilized with supplemental nitrogen. However, to achieve yield goals with cool-season grasses, they are often fertilized with some form of nitrogen. This increases the protein content of the grass, as nitrogen accounts for 16 percent of the protein molecule. Nitrogen that is not incorporated into proteins is temporarily stored in various forms: free amino acids, nitrates, amides, and amines, broadly classed as non-protein nitrogen (NPN). In chemical analyses of feedstuffs, these forms of nitrogen are commonly considered as being as nutritious as true proteins. This may not hold true if the NPN level is too high.

The protein in C4 grasses is used more efficiently by ruminant livestock. A higher percentage of the protein in C4 grasses is retained in the carcass and less is voided via the kidneys as urea. Cattle reach a higher degree of finish on C4 range grasses than on more lush C3 grasses. Why is this?

Research suggests that reduced efficiency in protein utilization in C3 grasses might be due to excessive levels of NPN. These NPN substances are rapidly deaminated (an amino group is removed) by enyzmes (chiefly urease) present in the rumen microflora. The ammonium (NH4) released from deamination can cause stress similar to the type which often occurs when feeding excessive amounts of urea to livestock.

There is evidence that livestock may suffer illnesses from lush pastures because the rapid release of ammonium N from the labile nitrogenonous substances in grasses.

High levels of soil nitrogen lead to rapid uptake of this element by plant roots. Some of it may be stored as NPN. If rumen microflora fail to incorporate the liberated ammonium N into microbial protein (this being the normal function of rumen bacteria), a significant portion may be absorbed through the rumen wall into the portal vein leading to the liver. Additionally, in a worst case scenario, some of the nitrogen-rich material may pass into the secum where it is degraded by bacteria rather than by the enzyme urease. This is known as intestinal putrefaction (proteins rot or putrify, whereas carbohydrates ferment). The ammonium N released via putrification is absorbed directly into the portal blood system leading to the liver. The liver is challenged to convert the the nitrogen in the portal blood system to urea so that will enter the general blood stream which nourishes the brain, kidneys, muscles, and other organs.

If the liver malfunctions, or its capacity to filter the ammonium nitrogen is exceeded, this toxic ammonium eventually reaches the brain via the general circulation and causes various forms of livestock disorders, broadly classed as ammonia intoxication.

The above interpretation suggests that cool-season grasses should not be heavily fertilized with nitrogen (>50 lb of actual N per acre per month). Nitrogen should be applied in split applications. As an extra precaution to maintain low levels of NPN in cool-season grasses, maintain ample levels of phosphorus and potassium in the soil. Potassium serves a catalytic function in protein synthesis thereby lowering the level of NPN and phosphorus is important in energy metabolism (ATP).

What about pasture supplements? Energy-rich supplements can be offered as additional insurance against NPN stress. For example, when urea is added to livestock rations, it is essential to supply grain or molasses to stimulate growth of rumen microflora, thereby creating a demand for the ammonium nitrogen released in the rumen. Additionally, livestock relish a mineral supplement which contains clay. The cation exchange properties (buffering capacity) of clay minerals promotes the absorption (and possible fixation) of ammonium ions.

The graphic that follows shows when different types of grasses are most productive. No species will work throughout the year, so other feed will be needed. It also indicates when to harvest abundant growth for hay or silage. Note the different growth patterns of warm-season and cool-season grasses.


Cool VS Warm Season Grasses

COOL SEASON GRASSES include Ryegrass, Fescues, Bluegrass and Bentgrass. They grow best in temperatures between 15 and 25 degrees celcius.

They’re suited to cooler climates and are at their best during the spring and autumn periods. Cool Season grasses are suitable for areas such as Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria, ACT and some areas of New South Wales.

Cool Season grasses can be brilliant green and very soft to feel, creating a premium looking lawn.

Cool season grasses are more susceptible to heat and drought, but will perform in partial shade. They can require higher water use, and during high humidity they can be more susceptible to leaf diseases.

The ideal mowing height for cool season grasses is 2-3 cm as they’re not tolerant of low mowing. Bentgrass is an exception here and will tolerate mowing down to a height of 1.5cm.

Browse our range of Cool Season Grasses:

Landscape Range Greenland Seed Blend

Landscape Range Budget Blend

Landscape Range Premium Lawn Seed Blend

Landscape Range General Pupose Blend

Landscape Range Sun & Shade Blend

The Ultimate Guide to Grass

Insert the ‘other type of grass’ jokes here. Yes, of course we are talking about turf, sod, grass or lawns to be less specific. There are quite a few different turf types, many different species and variations and different brands to boot.

We will do our best to cover a fair bit of useful information without boring you with too much science or tech speak on what makes grass, not ‘just grass!’

What is grass?

The definition of grass is ‘of the family Poaceae which has jointed stems, long and narrow leaves and seed-like fruit.’

There are a number of different grass types and species that have characteristics that are ideal for lawns.

Firstly, to categorise the different types of grass they are separated into either warm season or cool season varieties.

Warm season (C4) grasses thrive in spring and summer and cool season grasses (C3) perform better during the cooler months. The C3 & C4 reference refers to carbon, and the number represents how many carbon atoms within each compound. This is where they receive the particular characteristics synonymous for each type.

Warm season grasses require higher temperatures and light with lower requirements for moisture. For cool season grasses, it’s the opposite.

Warm Season Varieties include: Couch, kikuyu, buffalo and zoysia.

Cool Season Varieties include: Fescue, Ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass and Bent grass.

In Australia, warm season grasses are suited to northern areas and cool season grasses to the far south. Geographically, we have a limited true “cool season” area compared to North America and Europe, hence the reason warm season varieties are much more common.

Let’s focus on the most common types:

(This is only a guide, within these grass types is a range of different varieties that have more superior characteristics and qualities than others, so it’s important you research them individually once you have selected your preferred grass type.)

Soft Leaf Buffalo

Soft-Leaf Buffalo have a broader leaf blade, are highly durable, easy to maintain and are soft to touch in comparison to older scratchy buffalo varieties.

Sir Walter DNA Buffalo Grass

Key traits:

  • High shade tolerance
  • Weed Resistant
  • Low maintenance
  • Disease resistant

Zoysia

Zoysia have a fine leaf blade but is slightly wider than couch, tapering along the blade to a tip. It also has a dense growth providing it with a high wear resistance.

Sir Grange (Zeon Zoysia)

Key Traits:

  • Very high shade tolerance
  • Very high drought resistance
  • High wear resistance

Hybrid Bermuda

Hybrid Bermuda’s have a very fine leaf, are quick growing and highly invasive. Requires regular mowing, an ideal sporting surface as it can be cut quite short.

TifTuf

Key Traits:

  • High drought resistance
  • Very high wear resistance
  • High maintenance

Couch

Couches have a very fine leaf, are quick growing and highly invasive. Requires regular mowing, an ideal sporting surface as it can be cut quite short.

Nullarbor Couch

Key Traits:

  • High drought resistance
  • Very high wear resistance
  • High maintenance

Kikuyu

Kikuyu have a medium leaf width, soft bright green blade and love full sun.

Eureka Kikuyu

Key traits:

  • Highly invasive
  • Economical
  • High maintenance

Fescue

Fescue have a fine deep green blade, are more frost tolerant being a cool season variety and are slow to establish.

RTF Fescue

Key Traits:

  • Non-invasive
  • Low drought tolerance
  • High water requirements

The turf industry is continually evolving with exciting developments in turf research and breeding, along with rapid developments in production technology.

This is great news for consumers with greater flexibility in purchasing and availability, along with the significant benefits of brand-new turf varieties with superior characteristics to those that have come before.

Lawn Solutions Australia (LSA) is leading the charge in Australia and is continually building exclusive partnerships with turf related organisations right across the world. It is through these partnerships that LSA have been able to bring to consumers scientifically exceptional turf varieties like Sir Grange (Zeon Zoysia) and TifTuf.

How do I know which turf variety I need?

Lawn Solutions is here to make the selection process easier. Choose the 3 most important turf characteristics you require for your area and we will provide a list of options available to your suburb. Check out your options here.

We can even provide you with a quick and easy quote from turf suppliers in your area for the variety you require. Get a quote now.

For turf suppliers in your area click here.

The Australian lawn has become an icon in the Australian landscape. Lawn Solutions Australia (LSA) is ensuring that Australians are provided with the most beautiful and low maintenance turf varieties in the country, developed over decades of rigorous scientific testing.

To showcase these turf varieties, in an industry first sponsorship, LSA has proudly embraced the role of presenting partner to the largest and most prestigious horticultural event in the Southern Hemisphere – The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

Well and truly putting the great Australian Lawn back on its pedestal as the centrepiece of all great Aussie backyards!

The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show is the place where the best of the best strut their stuff and Lawn Solutions Australia, as the leading organisation in the Australian Turf industry is extremely excited to be a part of it.

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Warm Season Grasses // LawnPride Blog

For those living in climates that regularly experience temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius or above, warm season grasses are likely better suited to your personal or professional lawn choices.

While cool season grasses are ideal for southern states like Tasmania and Victoria, where frost and colder temperatures are prevalent in winter months, warm season grasses reign supreme in Australian states like Queensland and Western Australia. In fact, warm season grasses can become dormant in southern states due to sustained cooler temperatures.

Also known as C4 grasses, warm season grasses thrive with warmer ground temperatures, often requiring more hours of direct sunlight than their cool season counterparts in order to survive.

Warm Season Species

The most popular warm season grass varieties include the following:

  • Couch – Suitable for high traffic areas like fields, golf courses and parks, and thrives in the sunlight; high maintenance.
  • Blue Couch – Adapts to sandy and acidic soils, and is less invasive than other species; low maintenance.
  • Kikuyu – Repairs itself quickly, great under high usage areas, and grows quickly; low maintenance.
  • Zoysia – Slow growth rate, very soft, and high tolerance for shade and heavy traffic; low maintenance.
  • Buffalo – Excellent shade and traffic tolerance with lush look; low maintenance.

While Couch and Kikuyu are the most aggressive and invasive warm season grass varieties, Zoysia and Buffalo are much less aggressive and grow at a slower rate.

In addition, hybrid warm season grasses, which can be grown from either ribbons or stolons, include:

  • Sir Walter – A Buffalo grass hybrid and the most popular choice in Australia, Sir Walter is resistant to insects, low allergenic, requires less water than other varieties, and has magnificent shade tolerance.
  • Sapphire – A genuine soft leaf Buffalo grass hybrid, Sapphire is great at withstanding drought, has a slight blue hue, and is finer than other buffalo grass varieties. It is also less resistant to wear and tear.
  • Wintergreen Couch – Requiring less water than Buffalo as well as minimal fertilisers, Wintergreen Couch has been a popular choice for golf courses due to its ability to recover quickly and its resistance to drought.

Fun Facts

Warm season grasses can generate from both seed and runners, and allow the plant to spread and repair damaged areas through runners, stolons and rhizomes. For example, while Couch and Kikuyu have both stolons and rhizomes, Buffalo will only grow stolons.

Additionally, warm season grasses like Couch, Blue Couch and Zoysia can tolerate a lower HOC (height of cut) than their cool season counterparts at heights around 12mm. Meanwhile, Buffalo and Kikuyu are recommended at a minimum of 20 to 25mm.

When warm season grasses become dormant, you can simply add a Perennial Rye Grass (PRG) to add to the lush effect of the lawn.

One of the primary benefits of choosing a warm season grass is that it can be improved by regular mowing, as it promotes tillering, adding new leaves to the plant through new shoots, which gives thickness to the plant.

Have questions about which type of warm season grass is right for you? Contact us at [email protected] for more information, and feel free to shop our collection of LawnPride products online.

Warm Season Grasses

In some ways, growing and maintaining a good-looking lawn in the South is more involved than in the North. Choosing grass varieties is trickier. Some grass varieties do much better when started as plugs or sod than from seed, as is usually done in the North.

Good soil is critically important for growing a low maintenance lawn in this region. Most all warm weather grasses will turn brown when cooler temperatures arrive. Some southern gardeners seed their existing lawns with ryegrass each fall to maintain green color during the winter months. This is called “winter overseeding.”

Maintaining ideal growing conditions for your particular grass type is critical, otherwise unwanted grass varieties will start popping up and will be extremely difficult to remove. For example, St. Augustine grass being invaded by Bermuda grass and vice versa.

There are two major types of grass used for lawns in the South: warm-season grass and evergreen grass.

Warm-Season grasses are of tropical origin and thrive during the scorching summer heat. They are tough and form a dense lawn cover that thickens as they age. The are not green during the cold spells of winter. Their leaves turn brown in late fall and don’t green up again until warm weather returns. In general they are green a little over half the year. Warm-season grasses are best suited for lower and middle South regions which includes the Coastal areas from Virginia south to Georgia and west through Alabama to Texas. Zoysia grass and more cold-tolerant grasses such as Bermuda can be grown in the upper South which includes the mountainous regions from Virginia and North Carolina west through northern Tennessee and Arkansas.

Evergreen grasses grow best in the South during the fall and spring. During the winter months their growth slows, but they remain green for most of the winter. During the hot summer months they will struggle to survive and require considerable care to handle the extremes common to the heat. Evergreen grasses are best for upper and middle South regions. In most situations, evergreen grasses should not be considered as a general-purpose lawn grass for the lower South and Coastal areas.

Four major types of warm-season lawns

There are 4 major types of warm season lawns with a variety of characteristics and attributes. Deciding which lawn is best depends on your preferences and situation.

Consider the following: amount of shade on your lawn, how the lawn will be used (lots of activity, or mostly as a green area that sets off the rest of the landscape), and the height you prefer to mow. Your preference for texture in your grass is another consideration.

The four major types are Bermuda grass, Centipede grass, St. Augustine grass, Kikuyu grass, and Zoysia grass.

Bermuda grass: hybrid bermuda is fine with good cold tolerance. It does not do well in the shade and can handle activity. Mowing height is low.

Centipede grass: has a medium texture with a fair cold tolerance. Doesn’t hold up under extreme usage. Mowing height is medium.

Saint Augustine grass: coarse texture with poor cold tolerance. Doesn’t stand up to heavy traffic. Mowing height is high.

Kikuyu grass: is a coarse-textured, light green grass, sometimes mistaken for St. Augustine grass.

Zoysia grass: fine to medium texture with good cold tolerance. Doesn’t handle shade too well, is fairly good for usage. Mowing height is medium.

Southern, Warm-Season Grasses

Southern (warm-season) grasses are best suited for tropical and subtropical climates and thrive between the temperatures of 80-95⁰F. Southern grasses are typically known for their dense lawn cover, and turn brown in color when temperatures become cooler. The most commonly used southern grasses are: Bahia, Bermudagrass, Centipede, St. Augustinegrass, and Zoysiagrass.

Southern Grasses should be fertilized with Milorganite® four (4) times per year. Centipedegrass and Bahia grass prefer spring and summer feedings, and to help prevent winter kill, avoid fertilizing these varieties in the fall. The last time to fertilize in fall is one month before dormancy or the average first killing frost. It’s not necessary to water in Milorganite after application, which is one of its great features. It stays on the soil until water and temperature conditions are just right for soil microbes to break down the nutrients in Milorganite for plants to use. Although not necessary, watering in Milorganite will ensure the fertilizer is in contact with the soil and speeds up the fertilization process.

Visit our lawn disease page for management tools to help get your lawn back on track.

Warm Season Grasses

Bermuda, Bahia, Zoysia and St. Augustine

  • Warm season grasses are those that thrive well in the spring and summer months in the southern regions of the United States.
  • Warm season grasses are planted in the spring when all danger of frost is past. They turn brown or go dormant in the winter.
  • All warm season grasses except centipede may be overseeded in the fall, with annual or perennial ryegrass to provide green color throughout the winter with no harm to your permanent warm season turf.
  • The best planting times for warm season grasses are late spring to summer when soil temperatures are above 65˚F at 3 inches below the surface.
  • Use a lawn starter fertilizer for new plantings.
  • Once established, if no weeds are present, use a complete lawn food containing controlled release nitrogen in the spring and again in late summer.
  • If weeds are a problem on your established lawn, use a crabgrass preventer in late winter before weeds begin to emerge. If weeds persist once grass has greened up during the spring, apply a weed and feed fertilizer labeled for use on these grasses at the recommended rate instead of a stand-alone lawn food.
  • Winterizer fertilizers with a low nitrogen analysis may be used during the fall to help strengthen the root system of your lawn against cold weather damage.

Centipede Lawns

  • Centipede should be planted at the same time of year as other warm season grasses, but it has some special requirements for proper maintenance.
  • Do not overseed centipede lawns with annual or perennial ryegrass. This could weaken the root system and cause a partial or total loss of stand.
  • Centipede needs less fertilizer than the other warm season grasses. On established lawns, use a complete lawn food that is specifically made for centipede and contains little or no phosphorus, such 18-0-18. A light application in the spring and again in late summer should be all that is required.

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