Insights, Tips, and Tales

What are the Differences between Warm and Cool Weather Turf?


What are the Differences between Warm and Cool Weather Turf?

We all know about the futility and frustration of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. So why try to grow plants in an environment they can’t tolerate? This will lead to nothing but chaos and confusion.

Even though it may look pretty, you can’t force Kentucky Bluegrass on your lawn when you live in a subtropical climate! There are some critical differences in cool weather and warm weather turfgrass species necessary to navigate if you want the most beautiful lawn possible for the least amount of work.


On Turfgrass Anatomy

Turfgrass, broadly, refers to grass species with narrow leaves that form a uniform ground cover. The plant is separated into four parts: roots, stems, leaves, and seed heads. Like any other plant, turfgrass needs the right temperature, soil pH, water access, and oxygen level to germinate and grow.

Plants are spread in two ways – through seed dispersal, and in some cases, through rhizomes that sprout from the roots and spread horizontally to grow new seedlings. Rhizomes are a good thing because they can help cover lawn spots that are thin and damaged from high traffic, drought, or disease. Unlike other plants, turfgrass leaves start growing from the base of the stem, called the crown, so it can tolerate more trauma than other plants and still stay alive. Setting your mower too low, though, can cause irreparable damage.

In the right environmental conditions, the average number of leaves on a plant will stay the same, as new leaves replace the ones that die. So, the key to a nice, dense lawn is regular care! If you need help, our Service Professionals are lawn care experts. We know the right fertilizers and mowing schedule to give you a lush lawn that’s barefoot good.

If you let your grass grow too high, you will see the seed head part of the plant, made up of tiny spikelets in different arrangements depending on the species. Many different varieties are seen in lawns depending on their intended usage. Coarser grasses are used for athletic fields, while finer grasses are used for ornamental areas.

Let’s look at some key differences in cool weather and warm weather varieties.

Cool vs. Warm Weather Turf

Cool Weather Turfgrasses Warm Weather Turfgrasses
Grow during fall and spring, between 50°- 80° Grow during summer, between 80° – 95°
Stays green until the weather reaches 32°, some species can survive subfreezing temperatures. Loses green under 50° cannot survive subfreezing temperatures.
Species include: Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescue Grasses, Bentgrasses, Ryegrasses Species include: Bermuda grasses, Bahiagrasses, St. Augustine, Carpetgrass, & Zoysiagrass
Lawns normally require seeding 2-3 different species Lawns normally made up of one species
Stay green year-round, not dormant in winter. Dormant in winter, except for subtropical regions where some species stay green year-round.
Growth area includes the Northern portion of the US, from San Francisco to NYC and above. Growth area includes the Southeastern US, from the Gulf Coast to the Carolinas.
Roots grow between 2-6 inches – moist moisture absorption occurs near the surface. Roots can grow as deep as 7 feet in some species – moisture absorption occurs at 4 inches or below the surface.
Kentucky Bluegrass, known for its vibrant color and fine texture, is the most popular variety. Bermudagrass, grown on every continent except Antarctica, is the most popular variety.


So, which should you choose for your lawn?


The Basics of Turfgrass Care

To keep a beautiful yard year-round, grow warm weather turfgrasses for the hot summer months, and then overseed with cool-season varieties. If you’re having problems with your turfgrass growth and you think it’s getting enough water, you may need to aerate your lawn. Soil compaction can severely limit seed germination.

Also, warm weather vs. cool weather isn’t the only decision you need to make when selecting a turfgrass species that’s right for your lawn – you also need to consider the species’ water needs, light preferences, required salinity and nitrogen levels, and drought tolerance. If you ignore these crucial factors, you could end up having to replace your turf every season. Waynes turf experts can help you select the best sod for a new lawn, or help you in re-seeding a bare or brown yard.


Caring for your lawn is more important than just looks – it can help combat yard erosion, noise, dust, and pollution. And it starts with selecting the right turfgrass! Need help? Contact us today!

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