the orange gardener

1–2 minute read

Types of turfgrasses

Lawn grasses are described as ‘cool-season’ or ‘warm-season’ based on their responses to air and soil temperatures. Both types can be grown here but because neither performs well, choosing locally-adapted varieties and following good cultural practices is important for minimizing problems.

Best grasses for Orange County
Cool-season
tall fescue
fine fescue
Kentucky bluegrass
annual ryegrass
perennial ryegrass
Warm-season
Bermuda
zoysia
Optimum growth
Shoot
Cool-season
Warm-season

60–75°F
80–90°F
Root
Cool-season
Warm-season

50–65°F
75–85°F
Growth stops due to heat
Shootair temperature
Cool-season
Warm-season
90°F
120°F
Rootsoil temperature, top 4″
Cool-season
Warm-season
77°F
110°F
Growth stops due to cold
Shoot
Cool-season
Warm-season

40°F
N/A
Root
Cool-season
Warm-season

33°F
50°F
Low temperature kill possible
Cool-season
if temperature drops rapidly below 20°F
Warm-season
25°F

Source: Carolina Lawns

Choosing a turfgrass

Because we reside in the ‘transition zone’ where neither warm- nor cool-season grasses are happy, a good approach is to plant different turfgrasses in each microclimate of your yard. Cool-season grasses are probably the best choice for a north facing slope or light shade. Warm-season grasses should be considered for a hot southern or western exposure, especially if there is a slope. Note that warm-season grasses like hybrid Bermuda and zoysia require 50–75% less water for optimal appearance and are significantly more drought-tolerant than cool-season grasses. Before purchasing a grass, consider the desired tolerance for shade, heat, cold, and wear; appearance (including during dormancy); fertilizer and mowing requirements; and ease and rapidity of establishment.

grass chart

Of the the cool-season grasses (Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, fine fescue), tall fescues are the best-suited to our area. Newer tall fescue varieties may be better choices because the open, upright habit of older varieties like Kentucky 31 tend to permit crabgrass invasion. The slower-growing, dwarf-type tall fescue varieties, especially Bonsai, also are susceptible to crabgrass invasion. Let NC CES help you to select the right lawn grass.

Turf-type tall fescue Fine fescue

bluegrass-fescue

Kentucky bluegrass Fine fescue

bluegrass-fescue U Minn SULIS Selecting Cool Season Lawn Grasses