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What Is Turf Grass?: 5 Common Types

A botany graduate, Nithya Venkat enjoys writing about plants that help sustain life on planet Earth.

Turf grass is a type of grass that you can see growing in lawns, golf courses, sports fields, and playgrounds. Turf grasses differ from the ornamental grass varieties in that they are thicker, stronger, and grow in dense patches carpeting the ground.

When you choose turf grass, however, you must consider the climate best suited for it to grow and the amount of foot traffic it has to withstand.

This article will take a closer look at turf grass and its most commonly grown varieties.

Bermuda Grass

Bermuda Grass

Bermuda Grass

A native of the African savannahs, Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) thrives well in warm, temperate climates and is named so because it was introduced to the Americans from Bermuda.

Bermuda grass can bear the hot sun and is drought resistant, but it does not grow well in shady areas. The blades are short, dark green in color, and 2–15 cm long. The stems of this grass grow to about 1–30 cm in height. They have an extensive root system that penetrates deep into the soil in search of water.

Bermuda grass creeps along the ground and sprouts roots wherever the node touches the ground. It also reproduces through seeds and rhizomes. During winter, the grass turns brown and stops growing.

It is a summer grass that is aggressive in nature. It can grow very fast and crowd out the plants nearby. It shows high resistance to diseases and can grow in different types of soil, provided they are fertile. It can flourish in soils that are acidic, alkaline, or highly saline.

Another feature of this grass is that when it is damaged, it recuperates and quickly grows back. It is also known as devil grass due to its aggressive nature of growth.

Bermuda grass is best suited for lawns, golf courses, athletic fields, bowling greens, tennis courts, home putting greens, and landscaping areas.

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky Bluegrass

A popular lawn grass in the United States, Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) has more than 200 varieties, is very sturdy, and can withstand significant pressure from constant walking or running.

This turf grass grows well in fall and spring when the temperatures are cold and the climate is pleasant. It can also grow in summer, but only when the temperatures are not too high.

This type of turfgrass needs regular watering, fertilization, and mowing. The optimum mowing length is 2–3.5 inches. It reproduces by rhizomes and has an extensive root system.

Kentucky bluegrass has a smooth texture with a rich green color. The root system is extensive and interweaves to form a dense mat of grass. It has a great drought tolerance capacity and can become dormant when water is scarce—and it can spring back to life whenever it is watered.

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This grass is suitable for residential lawns, parks, athletic fields, and golf fairways. It is also grown as pasture for horses, cattle, and sheep.

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) is a bunch-type turf grass that is dark green in color with smooth to medium texture.

It is a cool-season grass that grows well in regions with moderate temperatures throughout the year and can tolerate cold temperatures very well. The leaves are dark green and have a smooth, glossy lower surface. Prominent parallel veins are running across the upper surface of the leaves.

Perennial ryegrass has a thick taproot system with a single main root with branches extending on either side. It does not carpet the ground with extensive interweaving growth but grows in single bunches.

It does not reproduce by rhizomes and stolons. It is aggressive in growth and can be grown alone or along with other turf grasses. Due to its aggressive growing nature, it is only used for up to 20 percent of coverage when grown along with other grasses.

Perennial ryegrass is suited for home lawns, parks, playgrounds, golf courses, and sports fields.

Creeping Red Fescue Grass

Creeping Red Fescue Grass

Creeping Red Fescue Grass

Creeping Red Fescue (Festuca rubra) is a cool-season grass that grows well in regions that have a temperate climate. This type of turf grass gives great coverage because of its dense matted growth. It spreads on the ground by means of short underground stems called rhizomes, can easily be grown from seeds, and does not need frequent watering and fertilization to grow well.

Sometimes grown as an ornamental grass, it can grow well in transition zones, because it can tolerate medium summer temperatures when compared to other types of cool-season grasses. The mowing height for this grass ranges from 1.5–2 inches.

The blades of the Creeping Red Fescue grass are very fine and narrow and have a rich green color. It does not take long to grow and cover the lawn, yet it is not aggressive in growth and is easy to maintain.

This grass remains green all year long in cool climate regions. During summer, the grass turns a pale green color and becomes dormant. It can turn brown when temperatures are very high.

Creeping Red Fescue is grown as turf grass in golf course areas, including the greens, tees, fairways, and roughs. It is not suitable for athletic fields, because it cannot withstand heavy foot traffic and does not have the capability to grow back easily after being damaged.

Buffalo Grass

Buffalo Grass

Buffalo Grass

Native to the Great Plains from Montano to Mexico, Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides) belongs to the warm season perennial shortgrass variety. It can withstand extreme hot or cold temperatures and survive extreme drought conditions.

Buffalo grass spreads using stolons (stems that grow on the soil's surface or just below the ground) and its blades can measure roughly 12 inches in length.

It is a low-maintenance grass that needs occasional watering and mowing and requires fertilization twice a year. It can be planted by using seeds, sods, or plugs.

Buffalo grass can be grown on roadsides, school grounds, parks, open lawn areas, and golf course roughs.

References

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Nithya Venkat

Comments

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 19, 2016:

It is a great feeling to watch plants grow and flowers bloom. Hope you have a nice garden soon.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on July 18, 2016:

I never knew there were so many types of grasses, and you only mentioned five! Gardens die under my care. I keep thinking one day I will have a nice garden and then someone offers to fix my garden and it's good for one month.But a part of me also enjoys watching how plants grow wildly and freely. Maybe I'm just making excuses, though. Wish they had one of those home renovation shows in the Philippines that they have in the US. I would volunteer my garden.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on October 21, 2015:

ladyguitarpicker (Stella) Bermuda grass is great and can withstand dry spells. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on October 20, 2015:

I planted the Bermuda grass and it has done very good. I like it because it can stand the Fl. dry spells. I have tried others, but this seems to tolerate the heat. Very interesting, Stella

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 21, 2015:

peachpurple there are many types and I have mentioned only a few. Carpet grass grows best in shaded areas.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on August 20, 2015:

What about carpet grass? I heard there are japan, taiwan, phillipine types. I bought the phillipines.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 16, 2015:

midget38 some grass species can be really aggressive and requires regular mowing. Thank you for your visit.

Nell Rose thank you and am glad you came to know about different types of grass through this hub.

Nell Rose from England on August 14, 2015:

Hi, well I never realised there were that many different types of grass! I learned something new! great hub and really useful, nell

Michelle Liew from Singapore on August 10, 2015:

Woo. We always have to trim ours. it is completely aggressive, just as you said!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 07, 2015:

agusfanani I hope you are able to choose the right kind and make it grow well. Thank you for stopping by.

Nadine May it must be great out there in Western Cape - South Africa. When there is absolutely no rain then grass has to be watered to thrive. Thank you for your visit.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on August 07, 2015:

Interesting post. We have Buffalo grass on our lawn against the mountain in the Western Cape - South Africa, but it needs to be daily watered in our summer when we get no rain.

agusfanani from Indonesia on August 06, 2015:

Very interesting information. I often try to grow grass but not so happy with its growth. I think I have chosen wrong kind of grass. Thank you for sharing this interesting article about grass.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 05, 2015:

AliciaC thank you for your visit, nowadays new varieties of turf grasses are coming up that grow well and are resistant to diseases.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 05, 2015:

Your hub is a very useful reference for anyone interested in turf grass, Vellur. Thanks for sharing all the information.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 05, 2015:

thumbi7 thank you for reading, vote up and share, much appreciated.

DDE thank you for reading and leaving a comment.

FlourishAnyway thank you and am glad you came to know more about the types of grasses.

ChitrnagadaSharan thank you for your appreciation and vote ups.

BlossomSB yes, there are some grasses that can grow in saline water. Thank you for stopping by.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on August 03, 2015:

So interesting. When we were in England we saw near the Lake District where 'sea-washed turves' were grown. We'd never heard of such a thing before. We thought the salt would have killed the grass, but apparently there are some grasses that are resistant to salt.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on August 03, 2015:

A very informative and interesting hub. Normally we term 'grass' as 'grass' only. At the most we refer to them as long or short. Your hub is indeed educative, since I did not know that they are called by different names.

Nice pictures and a well researched hub. Voted up and thanks!

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 02, 2015:

I didn't know there were so many different types. Mostly I was familiar with the types that do well in my area, Good research and presentation.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 01, 2015:

Interesting and definitely a useful hub.

JR Krishna from India on August 01, 2015:

New information on types of grass. Beautiful pictures

Voted up and shared

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 01, 2015:

Ericdierker thank you and I do hope your area gets plenty of rainfall and your lawn turns a luscious green in color.

tillsontitan thank you for stopping by. Brown lawn syndrome is a sad thing when it affects beautiful green grass. Thanks for the vote ups, much appreciated.

billybuc times do change and turf grass is becoming big business indeed! Thank you for your visit.

always exploring Kentucky bluegrass is great! It is difficult to make choices! Thank you for stopping by.

AudreyHowitt thank you, it is a great sight to see the green, green grass!

Audrey Howitt from California on August 01, 2015:

Well done! So very interesting to hear about grasses that I see so seldom!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on August 01, 2015:

Interesting hub. I like the Kentucky bluegrass the best, although the picture of the rye grass is beautiful...

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 01, 2015:

It's still interesting to me when I see grass farms. It's not something I saw as a kid, but today turf farms is a big business...ready made lawns....times change, don't they? Anyway, interesting article.

Mary Craig from New York on August 01, 2015:

I share Eric's problem. Though I live in the northeast our soil is sandy and once the summer is in full swing my lawn is b-r-o-w-n. I have used mixed/combination seeds but still have the brown lawn syndrome.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 01, 2015:

Your article is great. I learned a great deal. OK I admit it, I read it mainly to drool over the pictures. With our water rationing here in So Cal. our area lawns look like dried straw.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 01, 2015:

Peggy W thank you. A combination of grass seeds give great results. Your lawn must be beautiful!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 01, 2015:

When we lived in Wisconsin and started a new lawn, we had a combination of 3 seeds which we used. We used Kentucky bluegrass, a fescue and rhy combination. It turned out to be a beautiful lawn. Where we live now in Houston we have Saint Augustine grass for the most part. Good primer on some of the grasses used in various places.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 31, 2015:

word55 thank you!

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on July 31, 2015:

Excellent hub on the various grasses; very educational. Great research! Thanks a lot Vellur!

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