Common Grass Types

Geographic location and climate are important considerations when choosing a grass type for your home. You must first determine which kinds of grass will thrive where you live. Some grasses are bred to endure cold, snowy winters, while others are meant to withstand scorching summers. There are also transitional zones between the two extremes of climate, where some, but not all, of either type of grasses will grow well.

Cool Season Grasses

Cool season grasses grow best in areas with cold winters, and summers that are warm to hot. Although these climates generally receive periodic rainfall through the warm months, the cool season grasses can survive an extended drought by going dormant. Cool season grasses include bentgrass, Kentucky bluegrass, rough bluegrass, red fescue, annual ryegrass and perennial ryegrass. Creeping bentgrass was originally bred for golf course greens, but because of its intolerance of heat and extreme cold and need for frequent mowing, it is not a good choice for the home lawn. Bluegrass, a relatively slow grower, is popular for its rich color and thick coverage. Ryegrass can withstand heavy impact, and although it is not drought- or shade-tolerant, it can be counted on to quickly turn green, says the Landscape Design Site. Red fescue is fine in texture and deep green in color; it is low-maintenance and prefers a shadier and cooler location than most other cool season grasses.

Warm Season Grasses

Warm season grasses have different requirements than cool season varieties. While starting grass from seed is common in the North, many warm season grasses do much better when started as plugs or sod. Also, homeowners must overseed their existing warm weather grasses with ryegrass if they want their lawn to maintain a green color during winter. Warm-season grasses can withstand intense summer heat but turn brown in late summer and do not green up until the return of warm weather. These include Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass, which have a fine to medium texture and good tolerance to cold. Both are good for active families but have poor shade tolerance. Centipede grass is medium-textured and fairly cold-tolerant; it doesn't withstand heavy traffic. St. Augustine grass and the similar-in-appearance Kikuyu grass are both coarse-textured.

Choosing a Grass

When choosing a grass, the American Lawns website recommends that homeowners take into consideration the amount of maintenance a grass requires, its temperature and climate tolerance, its drought resistance and its shade tolerance. It recommends tall fescue (transition zone) and Bahia grass (warm season) as two of the most drought-resistant varieties, while fine-leaf fescue (cool season) and St. Augustine grass (warm season) make good choices for shady areas. Some grasses, such as perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass (both cool season) and Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass (both warm season), are more resistant than others when it comes to foot traffic.

Keywords: choosing lawn grass, cool season grasses, warm season grasses

About this Author

Gwen Bruno has 28 years of experience as a teacher and librarian, and is now a full-time freelance writer. She holds a bachelor's degree from Augustana College and master's degrees from North Park University and the University of Wisconsin. She writes articles about gardening for