Turfgrass Varieties

By Royce Hall

Spring Grass by Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon
Spring Grass by Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon

Turfgrass can be broken down into two categories: warm season grasses and cool season grasses. Warm season grasses usually do really well in the deep south, while cool season grasses usually do better in the north. If you live in the transition zone, like we do in Kentuckiana, it can be difficult to determine what type of grass to use. Here is a brief introduction to several common turfgrass species.

Warm Season Grasses

Warm season grasses are usually aggressive growers, meaning they can spread out and repair themselves. They grow well in heat and summer, but go dormant and brown after the first frost.


  • Has great ability to repair itself by spreading shoots known as rhizomes (below-ground shoots), and stolons (above-ground shoots).
  • Its aggressive growing habit helps the grass fill in voids in the lawn, but also makes it a nuisance as it tries to take over landscape beds.
  • Once you have Bermudagrass, it can be very difficult to control and eradicate.
  • The best Bermuda varieties cannot be seeded, only plugged, sodded, or sprigged.
  • In severe cold temperatures, below 10° F, some Bermudagrass may dieback some.


  • Has the ability to repair itself by means of rhizomes and stolons, although it is not typically as aggressive as Bermudagrass.
  • It has a more upright blade orientation than Bermudagrass.
  • Becomes very thick once established, making it hard for weeds to compete.
  • Can only be grown by plugging, sprigging, or sodding, not seeding.

Cool Season Grasses

Cool season grasses grow vigorously in spring and fall, and stay greener in winter than warm season grasses do. They may struggle some during the summer, but generally stay green year round.

Perennial Ryegrass

  • A popular grass on sports fields, as the underside of the leaf is very glossy due to a high silica content.
  • Stripes well, allowing fancy designs in sports turf.
  • Germinates quickly (3-5 days), which can help stabilize bare soil, or quickly return color to high priority lawn areas.
  • Bunch-type growth, not possessing rhizomes or stolons.
  • General recommendations are that your seed mixture should not contain more than 10% Ryegrass.
  • Dulls mower blades quicker due to the silica content.
Bermudagrass by Andrey Zharkikh

Kentucky Bluegrass

  • Regarded as the king of the cool-season grasses
  • It has the ability to spread out and repair itself by means of rhizomes, although it is not as aggressive as Bermuda.
  • It has a nice texture and thin blade.
  • May go dormant and turn tan to brown in excess heat and drought situations as a survival mechanism.
  • Requires a lot of irrigation to maintain throughout summer
  • Struggles in shaded environments.
  • Can be a good addition to seed blends, but may not be best as a stand-alone species.

Turf Type Tall Fescue

  • Better suited for Kentuckiana than most other turfgrasses.
  • It is a bunch-type grass.
  • Has deeper roots than the warm season grasses, or Kentucky Bluegrass, which helps it access water and survive heat.
  • Its clumping growth style may be unsightly if the stand is thin, and means that it will not repair itself.
  • If it is well fertilized, and maintained at 2.5-3.5 inches, it can make a lush lawn that is very competitive against weeds.
  • Limbwalker recommends seeding with Turf Type Tall Fescue primarily.

If you have any more questions about turfgrass varieties, or would like your lawn reseeded, please contact Limbwalker at (502) 634-0400, or Royce at rhall@limbwalkertree.com