While different types of grass have different traits and strengths, they are all part of the same family. The most important difference when it comes to Sunday and other lawn care practices is Cool Season vs Warm Season. As the name implies, cool season grasses prefer the cooler weather of northern climates. Conversely, warm season grasses prefer the heat of southern climates.
Cool Season Grasses grow the fastest during the fall and spring, preferring temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees. Cool season grasses stay green until temperatures drop below 32 degrees F for extended periods and can survive subfreezing temperatures.
Warm Season Grasses prefer the heat of southern climates. They grow the fastest during the summer, preferring temperatures between 80 and 95 degrees. They lose their green color if winter temperatures drop below 50 degrees F for extended periods of time; some species cannot survive extended periods of subfreezing temperatures.
Transition Zone Some species can survive in both their preferred climate and in the transition zone: the area which is both hot in the summer and cold in the winter. In the United States, the transition zone encompasses the eastern central and the mid-central regions of the country. Bermuda and Tall fescue type grasses are the most commonly grown grass types in the transition zone. Bermuda being a warm season grass is more widely grown in the southern edge of the transition zone. Tall fescue, an adaptable cold season grass, is generally the choice for central and northern transition zone areas. There are several subclimates in the transition zone, so what works best in Norfolk, VA won’t be the same as Flagstaff, AZ.
Having the right grass type for your climate is one of the most important factors for a thriving lawn. It’s helpful to know each grass type’s strengths and weaknesses too, especially when:
In addition to preferring warmer or cooler temperatures, different species of grass have different tolerances for a number of traits (drought tolerance, shade tolerance, etc.). Below are relative rankings for the following traits in common lawn turf grasses: heat, cold, drought, and shade. Remember, climate type is always the first and most important thing to consider.
One interesting thing to note, is that cool season lawns tend to be a blend of one, two, three or more grass types. Growing a blend of grasses increases diversity and resilience since most cool season grasses get along pretty well. It’s unlikely you have just one type of grass growing if you live in the cool season grass zone. While warm season lawns more often than not tend to be just one type of grass. Warm season grass types are well adapted to their specific climate. Folks in the warm season zone tend to know their grass type and are loyal to one type of grass if it’s working for them.
For your custom lawn plan we focus more on your soil and climate, rather than specific grass species, because both have a bigger impact on the health of your grass. Our soil test won’t determine what type of grass is growing in your lawn, but it will tell us exactly how much organic matter, nitrogen, and other macro and micro nutrients your soil has to support a healthy lawn.