Turfgrass Species

We have here articles about the major species used for turfgrass.

Proper selection of a turf species is an important component of an integrated pest management program. When turf species are planted in areas where they are not well adapted, they require greater care to grow and maintain and are more susceptible to invasion by pests. The major species used for turfgrass in California are outlined below. Cultivars are continually being developed or improved. For the latest information, consult your farm advisor or local nursery. See the UC Guide to Healthy Lawns for help identifying turfgrass species as well as information on establishing and maintaining a healthy stand of turfgrass in INTEGRATED WEED MANAGEMENT.

COLONIAL BENTGRASS   

Two species of bentgrass commonly used for turf are colonial and creeping bentgrasses. Colonial bentgrass is best adapted to the coastal region in far northern California where it is used for general lawn areas. It is a fine-textured grass with upright leaves and dense growth. Colonial bentgrass grows best in cool, humid weather, and can tolerate some shade; it has low tolerance to heat, salinity, water stress, and traffic. Colonial bentgrass requires frequent irrigation because it has a shallow root system. It tends to be susceptible to a wide range of diseases.

Source: University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

CREEPING BENTGRASS   

Creeping bentgrass is a specialty grass used for golf course putting greens, lawn bowling greens, and lawn tennis facilities. It is capable of withstanding very low cutting heights. Creeping bentgrass is a very fine-textured grass with flat, narrow leaves, a bright green color, and a shallow root system. It requires a high level of nitrogen fertilization and needs to be irrigated fairly frequently because of its shallow roots. It is not suitable for home lawns or other general-purpose turf.

Source: University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS   

Kentucky bluegrass produces a dense turf with dark green, medium-textured leaves; it spreads by rhizomes. Kentucky bluegrass grows best in fall, winter, and spring when temperatures are cool; during summer its growth slows. Kentucky bluegrass requires frequent irrigation during the summer months because of its shallow root system. It is susceptible to heat stress and disease infestation.

Source: University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

COMMON BERMUDAGRASS   

The species of ryegrass used for turfgrass are annual and perennial ryegrass. Annual ryegrass is used principally for overseeding bermudagrass in winter: it is well adapted to sunny conditions and survives well during the cooler months. Annual ryegrass has low heat tolerance, is coarse textured, and shiny light green. It dies in late spring to early summer.

Perennial ryegrass is well adapted to sunny or partially shady conditions. It grows best during periods of cool temperatures and is very competitive, rapidly establishing a uniform green cover. Fall seeding is preferred. Perennial ryegrass has a bunchgrass-type growth habit, thus open areas should be reseeded. It is extremely vigorous in its growth, particularly in the seedling stage, thus minimizing weed invasion.

Source: University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

HYBRID BERMUDAGRASS   

The species of ryegrass used for turfgrass are annual and perennial ryegrass. Annual ryegrass is used principally for overseeding bermudagrass in winter: it is well adapted to sunny conditions and survives well during the cooler months. Annual ryegrass has low heat tolerance, is coarse textured, and shiny light green. It dies in late spring to early summer.

Perennial ryegrass is well adapted to sunny or partially shady conditions. It grows best during periods of cool temperatures and is very competitive, rapidly establishing a uniform green cover. Fall seeding is preferred. Perennial ryegrass has a bunchgrass-type growth habit, thus open areas should be reseeded. It is extremely vigorous in its growth, particularly in the seedling stage, thus minimizing weed invasion.

Source: University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

ZOYSIAGRASS   

Zoysiagrass grows well in full sun, although it is tolerant of moderate shade. Zoysiagrass is medium textured, dark green in color, and is slow to establish from stolons or rhizomes. It turns brown when it is dormant in winter. Zoysiagrass is an attractive, uniform, dense, low-growing, good quality grass that requires less fertilization than bermudagrass. Zoysiagrass is moderately deep rooted and thus requires infrequent irrigation. Vertical mowing is needed periodically to reduce excessive thatch and scalping.

Source: University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

TALL FESCUE   

Tall fescue is well adapted to sunny or partially shady conditions. It is coarse-textured, although newer cultivars are finer textured, but not as fine as Kentucky bluegrass or perennial ryegrass. Tall fescue has good disease resistance and excellent tolerance to heat stress. Unlike bermudagrass or Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue is a bunch-type grass, thus open areas need to be reseeded. The vigorous growth of improved turf-type tall fescue cultivars is a deterrent to weed invasion, although the very "dwarf" (slow-growing) varieties may be less competitive.

Source: University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

FINE FESCUES   

Fine fescues are cool season turfgrasses that can have either a clumped or creeping type of growth. These grasses have a very fine texture because their leaf blades are very narrow. Several species of fine fescues are used as turfgrasses in California: creeping red fescue (Festuca rubra), Chewings fescue (F. rubra commutata), and hard fescue (Festuca longifolia). Fine fescues make a dense, wear-resistant turf when well established. They are usually mixed with other turf species because they tolerate shade well and fill in shady areas. Fine fescues do not like excessive nitrogen and are often mowed at 1.5 to 2.5 inches to tolerate heat in California. However, hard fescue, as well as red fescue, can be left unmowed as ornamental ground covers or on slopes and other hard-to-mow areas.

Source: University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

KIKUYUGRASS   

Kikuyugrass is well adapted to coastal regions within fifty miles of the ocean in southern California and central California. It has spread to some of the inland valleys as well. Kikuyugrass is a coarse-textured, hairy, light green, perennial, warm season grass that spreads aggressively by very thick rhizomes and stolons; its leaves are coarse textured and hairy. Kikuyugrass has good drought, heat, and wear tolerance, but it is difficult to mow and is prone to thatch heavily. Because of its aggressive growth it is a weed in some situations.

Source: University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

ST. AUGUSTINEGRASS   

St. Augustinegrass is well adapted to areas with full sun or moderate shade; it is the most shade tolerant warm season grass. It is a coarse-textured, creeping grass of medium green color. St. Augustinegrass is propagated by stolons and forms a dense, prostrate turf that is virtually weed free, but thatch is a severe problem. St. Augustinegrass frequently needs iron as a fertilizer supplement. It is relatively drought tolerant. It can withstand extremely saline conditions.

Source: University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

DICHONDRA   

Dichondra is not a turfgrass but a low-growing perennial. It will grow in partial shade, but it does best in full sun under cool coastal conditions. Mowing dichondra is a matter of personal preference; it may either remain unmowed or be mowed. Dichondra has a deep root system when properly irrigated. Frequent irrigation to maintain dichondra increases weed invasion; it is also very susceptible to flea beetles and nematode injury.

Source: University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

BAHIAGRASS   

Bahiagrass was introduced from Brazil in 1914. It was originally used as a pasture grass on the sandy soils of the southeastern United States. Additional varieties have been introduced since that time for use as lawn grasses. Bahiagrass is a low-maintenance lawn grass that does well with limited water and fertilizer inputs. Varieties currently available do not produce a carpet-like, dense lawn like some other warm-season lawn grasses.

Source: University of Florida IFAS Extension