The distinguishing features that set turfgrass apart from all other grasses are what make this grass type suitable for the high traffic areas of playgrounds, park grounds, sports fields, golf courses and home lawns. Some key features of turfgrasses, including their ability to spread in thick carpets through rhizomes and their hardiness underfoot, distinguish them from other types of grasses.
Below the soil's surface grows the turfgrass' rooting system--its roots and rhizomes. The rhizome is an underground stem that extends from one grass plant. Its tip develops into another grass plant. This is one way that turfgrass spreads and develops a thick, tough carpet.
At the base of the plant is its crown--a short stem from which the turfgrass plant grows, both above ground and underground. From the crown extends its two creeping stems--the rhizome underground and the stolon above ground. New turfgrass plants emerge from the tips of the stolons, similar to the spreading of the turfgrass by its rhizomes.
The blades or leaves of the turfgrass plant grow from its stem. Turfgrass blades are rounded, pointed or boat-shaped--rounded but then they come to a point at its tip. At the base of the blade is its collar--a band at the point where the blade connects to the stem. Along the full length of the grass blade is its midrib--the leaf's main vein.
Turfgrass leaves or blades also have a sheath that wraps around the plant stem, auricles that extend out from the top of the sheath and ligules that form where the leave meets the stem.
Types of Seed Heads
From the center of the stem emerges its inflorescence or seed head branch. The seed head is the grass's flowering part. Each seed head contains numerous seeds that fall to the ground when mature, thus propagating the turfgrass. Seed head types include raceme, which resembles fingers, spike or a single vertical seed head and panicle, which has multiple branchings at the apex of the seed head stem.
Zoysiagrass (Zoysia spp.) is a perennial, warm-season grass whose rhizomes and stolons spread abundantly to form a high-traffic, dense turfgrass surface.
Common Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) is commonly used in the southern states since it thrives well in warm climates. Bermuda grass is native to South Africa.
Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides) is native to the western United States and does well in warm climates. Buffalo grass is propagated through its stolons and seed production.
Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) forms very dense turf and grows very fast. In cooler regions it grows as a perennial turfgrass, and in warmer regions it grows as an annual.
Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) is native to Europe. This perennial turfgrass does well in the colder northern regions of the United States.