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WARM VS. COOL SEASON GRASSES

COOL SEASON GRASSES

TYPE Texture Kind of Lawn Maintenance Major Usage Cost of Seed Establishment
Bentgrass Fine Exhibition High Golf putting High
Bluegrass
Kentucky
Medium to
Fine
Average
to Good
Low Lawns Low
Fescue
Tall
Medium Average
to Good
Medium Lawns -  Sports Low to
Medium
Fescue
Creeping
Fine Medium - Exhibition Medium Lawns Medium
Ryegrass
Annual
Fine Low Low Mixes in Lawns Low
Ryegrass
Perennial
Medium Low Low Lawns
- Sports
Medium

WARM SEASON GRASSES

TYPE Texture Kind of Lawn Maintenance Major Usage Cost of Seed Establishment
Bahiagrass Coarse to
Medium
Average
to Good
Low Lawns -
Erosion & Wear areas
Low
Bermuda Fine Average Medium Lawns - Golf & Sports- Dry Low
Carpetgrass Medium Low Low Wet areas Low
Centipede Medium Low - Medium Low Lawns Medium
St. Augustine Coarse Medium Medium Lawns High
Zoysiagrass Med - Fine Medium - Exhibition High Lawns High

Cool Season grasses are used extensively though-out the Northern areas of the USA. As with all cool season grasses their best growth periods are in the Spring and Fall. Summer time and winter brings on dormancy in these grasses. Many of the cool season lawns planted in the North today are cultivars of improved varieties of the three major cool season grasses -- i.e.: Bluegrasses, Fescues & Perennial Ryegrass. These improved variety mixes work together in special ratios of each grass to provide a better lawn in the various different conditions that exist across many lawns.

Warm Season grasses are planted throughout the South from an area west of Texas to as far north as Tennessee and North Carolina.

Transition grasses are nothing more than either Warm Season or Cool Season grasses. Sometimes they are specific mixtures of different types of grasses. Within the transition zone, no one type of grass will do well in all weather conditions (heat / cold). This makes for a difficult situation where either more intensive maintenance of a cool season grass is required, or the use of a summer time warm season grass which goes dormant (and brown in color) in the cool days of fall & winter. During the summer months, the cool season grasses decline due to the hot weather in Transition zones. Planting one of the more "cold hardy" warm season grasses can help keep your lawn in shape and 003366 through the summer. Cool season grasses must be inter-seeded in these lawns to maintain a 003366 appearance during spring and fall/winter seasons. The best way to determine a good "warm season" grass to plant in your lawn for summer purposes is to see what your neighbors have good luck with. Areas can vary so much within the transition zone due to temperature differences and soils that using "suggested" grasses for your specific area can be misleading. What works best is usually what others plant successfully. Which is best????? Zoysia, Bermuda and Buffalograss are three of the more commonly planted warm season grasses used in the cooler transition zone areas. Fescues, Ryegrasses and Bluegrasses are also very popular and used quite extensively in the transition zone. While there is no one rule of thumb about which grass works best, cool season grasses seem to be the more popular choices for the majority of lawns planted in the transition zone.
The three general areas at right showing where Warm (yellow) and Cool season (blue) grasses are used within the USA. In the transition zone (purple), a mixture of these two grass types is sometimes required. However the Transition zone generally favors the cool-season grasses over the warm season ones. grass

FERTILITY REQUIREMENTS

WARM SEASON

COOL SEASON

Buffalo Low Bentgrass High
Centipede Low Bluegrass Medium
Common Bermuda Medium - High Fine Fescue Low
Hybrid Bermuda High Ryegrass Medium
St Augustine Medium Tall Fescue Low - Medium
Tall Fescue Medium
Zoysia Low - Medium

LEAF TEXTURE

WARM SEASON

COOL SEASON

Buffalo Fine Bentgrass Fine
Centipede Medium - Coarse Bluegrass Medium
Common Bermuda Medium Fine Fescue Fine
Hybrid Bermuda Fine Ryegrass Medium
St Augustine Coarse Tall Fescue Medium
Tall Fescue Medium
Zoysia Fine - Medium

SHADE TOLERANCE

WARM SEASON

COOL SEASON

Buffalo Low Bentgrass Medium
Centipede Medium - High Bluegrass Low - Medium
Common Bermuda Low Fine Fescue High
Hybrid Bermuda Low - Medium Ryegrass Low - Medium
St Augustine High Tall Fescue Medium
Tall Fescue High
Zoysia Medium - High

WEAR RESISTANCE

WARM SEASON

COOL SEASON

Buffalo Medium - High Bentgrass Low
Centipede Low Bluegrass Medium
Common Bermuda High Fine Fescue Medium
Hybrid Bermuda Medium - High Ryegrass High
St Augustine Low Tall Fescue Medium - High
Tall Fescue Medium
Zoysia High

MOWING HEIGHT

WARM SEASON

COOL SEASON

Buffalo High Bentgrass Low
Centipede Medium - High Bluegrass Medium
Common Bermuda Medium Fine Fescue Medium
Hybrid Bermuda Low Ryegrass Medium
St Augustine High Tall Fescue Medium
Tall Fescue High
Zoysia Medium

COLD TOLERANCE

WARM SEASON

COOL SEASON

Buffalo High Bentgrass Low
Centipede Medium - High Bluegrass Medium
Common Bermuda Medium Fine Fescue Medium - High
Hybrid Bermuda Low - Medium Ryegrass Medium
St Augustine Low Tall Fescue High
Tall Fescue High
Zoysia High

HEAT TOLERANCE

WARM SEASON

COOL SEASON

Buffalo High Bentgrass High
Centipede High Bluegrass Medium
Common Bermuda High Fine Fescue Low - Medium
Hybrid Bermuda High Ryegrass Low - Medium
St Augustine High Tall Fescue High
Tall Fescue Medium
Zoysia High

DROUGHT TOLERANCE

WARM SEASON

COOL SEASON

Buffalo High Bentgrass Low
Centipede Low - Medium Bluegrass Medium
Common Bermuda Medium - High Fine Fescue High
Hybrid Bermuda Low - Medium Ryegrass Low - Medium
St Augustine Medium Tall Fescue High
Tall Fescue Low
Zoysia Medium - High

THATCHING TENDENCY

WARM SEASON

COOL SEASON

Buffalo Low Bentgrass High
Centipede Medium Bluegrass Low - Medium
Common Bermuda Low Fine Fescue Low - Medium
Hybrid Bermuda High Ryegrass Low
St Augustine Medium - High Tall Fescue Low
Tall Fescue Low
Zoysia Medium - High

TOLERANCE TO ACID SOILS

WARM SEASON

COOL SEASON

Buffalo Low Bentgrass Medium - High
Centipede High Bluegrass Medium
Common Bermuda Medium Fine Fescue Medium - High
Hybrid Bermuda Medium Ryegrass Medium
St Augustine Low Tall Fescue High
Tall Fescue High
Zoysia Low - Medium

SALINITY TENDENCY

WARM SEASON

COOL SEASON

Buffalo High Bentgrass High
Centipede Low - Medium Bluegrass Medium
Common Bermuda High Fine Fescue Medium
Hybrid Bermuda High Ryegrass Medium - High
St Augustine High Tall Fescue High
Tall Fescue High
Zoysia High

INTERPRETING GRASS SEED LABELS

The ability to understand seed labels is critical when selecting good seed. The information on the seed label will help you determine if the seed is of high quality. Table 2 lists the preferred ranges of items found on the seed label.

Purity
The purity figure indicates the percent, by weight, of pure seed of each component in the mixture. Not all the pure seed is live seed.

   
Germination
The germination figure indicates the percent of pure seed that has been tested for germination and should grow when seeded.

Crop
The crop figure indicates the percent, by weight, of seeds in a package that are grown as a cash crop. Examples of crop may include orchardgrass, timothy, redtop, clover, and bentgrass which are considered weeds in turf.

Weed
The weed figure indicates the percent, by weight, of weed seeds in the package. A weed is any seed that has not been included in pure seed or crop.

Noxious Weeds
This defines the number per pound or ounce of weed seeds considered legally undesirable.

Inert
Inert indicates the percent, by weight, of material in the container that will not grow.

Date Tested
Check the date on the seed label. This date should be within the last eighteen months.

 

Table 2.  Preferred ranges for items on the label of a good quality seed lot.
. Preferred
Item Range
Purity >98%
Germination >85%
Crop <0.5%
Weed <0.3%
Noxious Weed 0
Inert <2%
Date Tested last 18 months

 

Final Thoughts
Avoid the following when purchasing seed:

  • Buying out of bulk bins
  • Seed from the weekend newspaper circulars
  • Seed mixes that contain 'Linn' perennial ryegrass
  • Seed mixes that contain annual ryegrass

The best bet on getting good quality seed is to buy name brands from a reputable seed house or garden shop. Generally, the more expensive the seed, the better quality it is. Paying a few extra cents per pound for good quality seed is insignificant when compared to the added expense of trying to maintain an attractive lawn that was from poor quality seed.

Questions? Contact info@baileyseed.com

 
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