0
Sub-Total: $0.00

No products in the cart.

What Kind of Grass Do I Have?

What-Kind-of-Grass-Do-I-Have-

If you’re one of the many who’ve moved into a new home and aren’t sure what kind of grass you have, you may be wondering how to take care of it or trying to make a decision on if you should keep this grass or install something new. You may even have a mix of more than one grass in your lawn. If this is the case, you’re not alone. Determining what kind of grass you have doesn’t have to be difficult. Our step-by-step instructions and Turfgrass Identification Guide will help you figure out what kind of grass you have in no time.

First, it’s important to know that the type of grass you have depends on where you’re geographically located. For example, if you live in Boston, MA, you probably have a cool season grass, which eliminates approximately half of the other possibilities that are warm season grasses. Some of the most common grass types are listed in the table below.

Turfgrass Identification Chart
Turfgrass Identification Chart

Step 1: Find out which growing zone you’re located in
Cool Season Grass Zone And Warm Season Grass Zone Map United States

Cool season varieties perform best in areas with temperatures that fall between 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Prime cool season locations are parts of the Midwest, the Pacific Northwest, and most of the Northeastern regions of the United States. Cool, humid weather is the perfect climate for cool season varieties to flourish. Warm season varieties perform best in areas that experience temperatures between 80 degrees Fahrenheit and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm season grasses go dormant in the winter when temperatures drop below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike warm season varieties, cool season varieties do not go dormant in the winter. The transition zone is represented by a ribbon of “in-between” climates stretching across the midsection of the United States. 

Types of Cool Season Grass:

  • Tall fescue
  • Fine fescue
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Bentgrass

Types of Warm Season Grass

  • Zoysia
  • St. Augustine
  • Bermuda grass
  • Centipede grass
  • Bahiagrass
  • Buffalograss
Step 2: Take a look at the shape of your grass blades

Grass types have varying blade widths and shapes. Some may be wide-bladed while others may be fine-bladed, or some may have pointed ends while others have rounded or boat-shaped ends. If you have a fine-bladed grass, it’s likely you don’t have a St. Augustine lawn. On the other hand, if you have a wide-bladed grass, you probably don’t have perennial ryegrass or fine fescue. Take a look at the images and lists below to see which grasses are fine-bladed or wide-bladed and what their blade ends look like.

Fine-Bladed Grasses:

  • Fine fescue
  • Fine-bladed zoysias
  • Bermuda grass
  • Bentgrass
  • Perennial ryegrass

Wide-Bladed Grasses:

  • Wide-bladed zoysias
  • St. Augustine
  • Centipede grass
  • Bahiagrass
  • Buffalograss
  • Tall fescue
  • Kentucky bluegrass

Grasses with Pointed Ends:

  • Fine fescue
  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Tall fescue
  • Bahiagrass
  • Bermuda grass
  • Centipede grass
  • Zoysia

Grasses with Rounded Ends:

  • St. Augustine
  • Kentucky bluegrass
Step 3: Determine your grass’s growing habit

Certain grasses also spread and grow differently from others. For example, some grasses spread with the use of rhizomes, stolons or both while others grow in clumps or bunch-like patterns. Stolons and rhizomes differ in the sense that they spread across the ground in lateral directions as the grass grows and takes up space. Stolons are above-the-ground runners while rhizomes spread underneath the soil’s surface. Determining how your grass grows or spreads is an important step in determining what kind of grass may be growing in your lawn.

Grasses that Use a Stolon Spreading Pattern

  • St. Augustine
  • Zoysia
  • Centipede grass
  • Bermuda grass
  • Buffalograss
  • Bahiagrass

Grasses that Use a Rhizome Spreading Pattern

  • Fine fescue
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Bahiagrass
  • Bermuda grass
  • Zoysia

Grasses that Use a Bunch-Type Growing Pattern

  • Fine fescue
  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Tall cescue
Step 4: Check out the grass’s vernation

One of the features of turfgrass a professional will look at to identify it is its vernation. Although it seems technical, locating the vernation on a grass blade is easy. All grasses have either a folded or rolled vernation. The vernation of a grass blade is a term used to describe how the youngest grass blades that have not yet “blossomed” are arranged in the sheath of the grass. Take a look at the image from Iowa State University’s Extension and Outreach for a visual representation of folded vs. rolled vernations.

Iowa State University's Extension and Outreach Vernation


Grasses with a Folded Vernation

  • Centipede grass
  • Bahiagrass
  • Bermuda grass
  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Fine fescue
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • St. Augustine

Grasses with a Rolled Vernation

  • Bahiagrass
  • Zoysia
  • Tall fescue
Step 5: Inspect your grass to see if there are auricles

Like vernations, auricles are also a technical term used by turfgrass professionals to identify grass types. An auricle is a short, claw-shaped, rounded or pointed attachment at the base of the grass blade. Not all grasses have them, though. If a type of turfgrass has auricles, they may be clasped or open.

Photo Credit: KingAgriSeeds.com

Grasses with Absent Auricles:

  • Bentgrass
  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Buffalograss
  • Bermuda grass
  • Zoysia
  • Fine fescue
  • Bahiagrass
  • St. Augustine
  • Centipede grass

Grasses with Short Auricles:

  • Tall fescue
  • Perennial Ryegrass

Grasses with Claw-Like Auricles:

  • Perennial ryegrass
Step 6: See what the grass’s ligule looks like

The last technical tip we have for identifying a grass type is to look to its ligule. A ligule is a thin membrane or fringe of hairs located where the leaf blade joins the sheath of the grass. Some types of turfgrasses have a fringe of hairs where others have a membranous ligule or don’t have a ligule at all.

Photo Credit: KingAgriSeeds.com

Grasses with an Absent Ligule

  • Kentucky bluegrass

Grasses with a Fringe of Hairs

  • Bermuda grass
  • Buffalograss
  • Zoysia
  • St. Augustine

Grasses with a Membranous Ligule

  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Fine fescue
  • Tall fescue
  • Bahiagrass
  • Centipede grass
  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Bentgrass
How to Identify St. Augustine Grass

If you think you have St. Augustine grass in your lawn but aren’t sure, a few ways to identify St. Augustine grass is too look for really wide, coarse grass blades that are rounded at the end. St. Augustine grass grows in the southern two-thirds of the United States. Depending on the exact cultivar, it typically has a dark green color with broad, flat blades that can form a dense layer of grass. Learn more about St. Augustine grass here.

St. Augustine Grass Characteristics:

  • Type of Grass: Warm season
  • Blade Width: Varies by cultivar but generally 8–9 mm wide
  • Blade Shape: Rounded blade tip
  • Spreading/Growth Habit: Stolons
  • Vernation: Folded
  • Auricle Type: Absent
  • Ligule Type: Fringe of hairs
Palmetto St Augustine Grass Close Up Blades

How to Identify Zoysia Grass

Zoysia grass can be fine-bladed or wide-bladed. Zoysia has a thick, soft carpet that chokes out weeds and produces stolons that creep along the surface of the soil and expand horizontally. It has a stronger, medium-thick grass blade with a soft feel and adapts to a wide variety of soil conditions. Learn more about zoysia grass here

Zoysia Grass Characteristics:

  • Type of Grass: Warm season
  • Blade Width: Varies by cultivar but generally 2–7 mm wide
  • Blade Shape: Pointed blade tip
  • Spreading/Growth Habit: Rhizomes and stolons
  • Vernation: Rolled
  • Auricle Type: Absent
  • Ligule Type: Fringe of hairs

How to Identify Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass is fine-textured with a thin grass blade that reaches between 2–16 cm long. It is found throughout the southern two-thirds of the United States as it thrives in warm weather climates, however, certain varieties have been bred to withstand cooler temperatures up into the transition zone. Learn more about bermuda grass here.

Bermuda Grass Characteristics:

  • Type of Grass: Warm season
  • Blade Width: Varies by cultivar but typically 1.5–1.7 mm wide
  • Blade Shape: Pointed blade tip
  • Spreading/Growth Habit: Rhizomes and stolons
  • Vernation: Folded
  • Auricle Type: Absent
  • Ligule Type: Fringe of hairs
Celebration Bermuda Grass Gulf Coast

How to Identify Centipede Grass

Centipede grass leaf blades are flat and rounded at the base that reach about 30 mm in length and 2–4 mm in width. This perennial grass has a coarse texture that grows on its own without the need of replanting each year. Learn more about centipede grass here

Centipede Grass Characteristics:

  • Type of Grass: Warm season
  • Blade Width: Varies by cultivar but typically 0.1–0.2 inches wide
  • Blade Shape: Pointed blade tip or boat-shaped tip
  • Spreading/Growth Habit: Stolons
  • Vernation: Folded
  • Auricle Type: Absent
  • Ligule Type: Membranous
Santee Centipede Grass Close Up Top View

How to Identify Bahiagrass

Bahiagrass is a tropical or subtropical perennial grass that produces a Y-shaped seed head. This aggressive growing turfgrass is performs well in areas experiencing drought. Bahiagrass tolerates a wide range of soil types and has a mat-forming growth habit and coarse textures. 

Bahiagrass Characteristics:

  • Type of Grass: Warm season
  • Blade Width: 4–8 mm wide
  • Blade Shape: Pointed blade tip
  • Spreading/Growth Habit: Rhizomes
  • Vernation: Rolled
  • Auricle Type: Absent
  • Ligule Type: Membranous

How to Identify Buffalograss

Buffalograss is a fine-leaved grass that originally came from Canada, Mexico and the United States as a prairie grass. Often used by homeowners as a low maintenance option, buffalograss grows best in Texas and anywhere West of the state. This perennial grass is water efficient with great durability.

Buffalograss Characteristics:

  • Type of Grass: Warm season
  • Blade Width: 1–3 mm
  • Blade Shape: Pointed bladed tip
  • Spreading/Growth Habit: Rhizomes
  • Vernation: Rolled
  • Auricle Type: Absent
  • Ligule Type: Fringe of hairs
Buffalograss
How to Identify Tall Fescue

Tall fescue is a cool season grass that can survive cool weather and harsh temperatures. Often used in the most northern parts of the United States, tall fescue is also one of the most shade tolerant turfgrass varieties available. It is drought and heat stress tolerant, coarse textured and dark green in color. 

Tall Fescue Characteristics:

  • Type of Grass: Cool season
  • Blade Width: 0.5 inches wide
  • Blade Shape: Pointed blade tip
  • Spreading/Growth Habit: Bunch-like growing habit
  • Vernation: Rolled
  • Auricle Type: Short, non-clasping
  • Ligule Type: Membranous
Tall Fescue

How to Identify Fine Fescue

Like tall fescues, fine fescues are also very shade tolerant and grow in bunch-like growing patterns. Fine fescue is one of the finest-bladed turfgrass varieties available. For this reason, you can often find it mixed with tall fescue in home lawns or commercial landscapes.

Fine Fescue Characteristics:

  • Type of Grass: Cool Season
  • Blade Width: Roughly 1.5 mm
  • Blade Shape: Pointed blade tip
  • Spreading/Growth Habit: Bunch-like growing habit
  • Vernation: Folded
  • Auricle Type: Absent
  • Ligule Type: Membranous

How to Identify Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass is a cool season grass that has excellent winter hardiness and a soft feel. Kentucky bluegrass is usually easy to identify due to its unique boat-shaped leaves and bluish-green color depicted in the image below. 

Kentucky Bluegrass Characteristics:

  • Type of Grass: Cool season grass
  • Blade Width: 2–4 mm wide
  • Blade Shape: Rounded, boat-shaped blade tip
  • Spreading/Growth Habit: Bunch-like growing habit and rhizomes
  • Vernation: Folded
  • Auricle Type: Absent
  • Ligule Type: Membranous
Bluegrass
How to Identify Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass can be used as a permanent turfgrass in home lawns located up in the northern areas of the United States as well as the transition zone. It can also be used in the southern two-thirds of the United States to overseed warm season lawns during winter dormancy like bermuda grass and zoysia grass. Perennial ryegrass is usually slightly darker than annual ryegrass, however, it still maintains its bright green reputation. Perennial ryegrass has a very fine texture in comparison to annual ryegrass’s coarse feel. Learn more about perennial ryegrass here.

Perennial Ryegrass Characteristics:

  • Type of Grass: Cool season
  • Blade Width: 
  • Blade Shape: Pointed blade tip
  • Spreading/Growth Habit: Bunch-like growing habit
  • Vernation: Folded
  • Auricle Type: Short
  • Ligule Type: Membranous
Perennial Ryegrass Seed

How to Identify Bentgrass

Bentgrass is a cool season turfgrass variety that grows in lighter-colored patches anywhere between 6 inches to 2 feet in height. In the summe,, it turns a wilted brown as it goes into dormancy and returns to its lighter green color in the fall. Bentgrass typically has a shallow root system, yet it can withstand foot traffic and frequent mowing.

Bentgrass Characteristics:

  • Type of Grass: Cool season grass
  • Blade Width: 2–5 mm wide
  • Blade Shape: Pointed blade tip
  • Spreading/Growth Habit: Stolons
  • Vernation: Rolled
  • Auricle Type: Absent
  • Ligule Type: Membranous
How to Choose the Best Type of Grass for My Lawn

Once you are able to determine the type of grass you have in your lawn and learn more about it, you may decide to install something else in the future. If this is the case for you, finding the best grass for your lawn can seem daunting at first. The decision ultimately depends on where you live, what your budget is and what you’re looking for. For example, you may have a lot of shade in your lawn or want something that’s lower maintenance. Maybe you have dogs or kids who love to run around aside and  you need a grass that can endure heavy foot traffic. 

Whatever the situation is, we have a few other resources that can help you. We recommend starting with reading our blog on Tips for Selecting the Right Grass for My Lawn. Our article on How to Choose the Right Type of Sod goes into some other key differences between major grass types. Lastly, our Care Guides contain seasonal maintenance practices for various grass types to keep your lawn looking great all year long. Check those out to keep your lawn in great shape or to see what kind of maintenance goes into different grass types. We hope this information helps you determine your grass type. If you enjoyed this read, be sure to subscribe to Sod University for weekly tips, tricks and advice if you haven’t already. 

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Scroll to Top