Known in the seed industry as KBG, Kentucky bluegrass thrives in full sun, creating a dense, aggressive grass that's prone to thatch buildup. This medium to finely textured grass has excellent cold hardiness. It's a common ingredient in sun and shade grass seed mixes.
One of the fastest germinating grasses available, perennial ryegrass is used to establish permanent northern lawns and to overseed southern lawns for winter color. These fine-textured grasses do well in cool, humid climates where fungal lawn diseases often trouble grasses.
Traditional tall fescue:
Kentucky 31 tall fescue is a traditional tall fescue that's an industry standard for durable, economical lawns. Next to fine fescues, tall fescues have the best shade tolerance of common cool-season grasses. Though coarser in texture, traditional tall fescues such as Kentucky 31 have excellent heat and drought tolerance.
Turf-type tall fescue:
Fast becoming the grass of choice for many homeowners in cool-season and transition-zone lawns, turf-type tall fescue grasses have excellent heat, drought and shade tolerance. These medium to finely textured grasses are shorter and darker than traditional tall fescue types.
The following are some of the most common warm-season lawn grasses found in U.S. lawns. These characteristics and features can help you identify your grass:
Rarely found in lawns outside the heat- and humidity-prone Southeast, Bahiagrass has excellent heat and drought tolerance. This coarse-textured grass does best in sandy, acidic soils, but its open growth habit often invites common lawn weeds.
Extremely tolerant of heat and drought, deep-rooted Bermudagrass is among the most common of warm-season lawn grasses. This medium- to fine-textured grass requires full, direct sun and good drainage. Its aggressive, spreading growth often leads to thatch buildup.
Low-maintenance centipede grass is known for its low, slow growth. Coarse in texture, it prefers sandy, acidic soils. It's typically limited to lawns in the Southeast, Southern Coastal Plains and Texas Gulf Coast.
With greater heat and cold tolerance than other warm-season grasses, Zoysia grass stays green longer in fall and greens up earlier than other grasses in spring. Its dense, spreading growth makes it a candidate for regular dethatching.
Once you've narrowed your search based on your growing region, look to similarities and differences between common grasses to help identify your grass type. Features such as color and texture are simple to see and feel, but other features require a closer look.
Grass types vary in the width of their blades and whether blade tips are sharp-pointed, rounded or boat-shaped. The arrangement of grass leaves in new shoots, called vernation, may be V-shaped and folded or circular and rolled. Your grass's growth habit also provides grass I.D. clues. Some types form clump-like bunches. Others spread via above-ground stems known as stolons, below-ground stems known as rhizomes or both. Investigating these features closely lays the groundwork for identifying your lawn grass type.