What Is the Difference Between Turfgrass Species?

Posted by Heritage Seed on 10/25/2011

There is a significant difference between cool-season turfgrass species, more than we can cover in detail in this short blog. However, we can offer same basic characteristics to help you decide what you need for you lawn, park, athletic field, etc.

Kentucky Bluegrass

  • Short, thin, soft leaves.
  • Dark green-blue color.
  • Sod-forming (roots spread and produce new stems, holding the sod together), which is why Kentucky bluegrass is a common component in turfgrass mixes.
  • Cold tolerant but not heat or drought tolerant.
  • Prefers full sun but tolerates shade in warmer climates.

Perennial Ryegrass

  • Medium width, soft leaves than can grow tall if not mowed.
  • Dark green color.
  • A bunch grass (not sod-forming).
  • Cold tolerant but not heat tolerant, with medium drought tolerance.
  • Performs well in full sun and partial shade.
  • Commonly mixed with Kentucky bluegrass.

Tall Fescue

  • Wide, medium texture leaves that can grow tall if not mowed.
  • Medium to dark green color.
  • A bunch grass (not sod-forming).
  •  Cold and heat tolerant, with excellent drought tolerance.
  • Performs well in full sun and partial shade.

Fine Fescue

  • Thin, soft texture leaves that rarely grow more than 10 inches tall, as leaves fall over and maintain a shorter appearance (great for low maintenance areas).
  • Very dark green color.
  • A bunch grass (not sod-forming).
  • Cold tolerant and heat tolerant (especially if shaded), with medium drought tolerance.
  • Performs well in full sun or full shade in the North and prefers partial to full shade in the Central U.S. Known for exceptional shade tolerance.
  • Commonly mixed with Kentucky bluegrass because leaf texture is similar.