How to Identify Turfgrass


Turfgrass is any variety of grass used to form a turf area. It is usually thick grass that grows quickly. Some lawn care specialists use turfgrass to fill out their lawn, while others consider it a pest that ruins the uniform look of the lawn. In either case, proper turfgrass identification determines the grass' fertilization, mowing, watering and irrigation needs. Determining the type of turfgrass in your lawn requires looking for common traits, and comparing this to the turfgrass that's native to your area.

Step 1

Determine that the plant in question is actually a grass, and not a sedge or rush plant. According to Purdue University, grasses have leaves that are arranged in rows of two; and a ligule, a thin outgrowth from the juncture where the leaf grows. Sedge and rush have leaves in rows of three, and have a triangular-shaped stem.

Step 2

Examine the vernation of the young grass, which is the appearance of the young, unexpanded leaf. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, leaves will either be folded or unfolded. However, according to Purdue University, some grasses will have a varied leaf vernation, such as Bermuda grass, making identification based on vernation alone difficult.

Step 3

Study the leaf blade of the plant and compare it to turfgrasses that are native to the area, and those known to enjoy the area's climate. Your local University Extension will have a database of local plant varieties available. A leaf contains a lower sheath, surrounded by a stem or a crown above the node where it is located. Study the ligule closely, and compare it to photos of turfgrass in the area.

Step 4

Examine the leaf tip of the plant, as the shape of the leaf tip differs on many varieties. Leaf tips may be round, boat-shaped or sharp in appearance. The back part of the leaf may have a mid-rip as well, helping identify between species that do, and do not, have such a feature.

Step 5

Study the growth habits of the turfgrass, and compare that to the varieties you have narrowed the possible grasses to. Turfgrass may grow in bunches, or spread out. Turfgrasses will spread by above-ground vines, or underground with roots called rhizomes. Identification through growth helps narrow down species' possibilities.

Step 6

Send a sample of the turfgrass into your local University Extension service if still in doubt. Many University Extensions are glad to identify plant species for a small fee.

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening gloves
  • Hand shovel


  • Perdue University: How to Identify a Turgrass
  • University of California: The UC Guide to Healthy Lawns
  • University of Missouri Extension: Managing Lawns and Turfgrass

Who Can Help

  • Perdue University: Turfgrass Identification
Keywords: turgrass identification, turfgrass quality, turgrass common features

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.