Warm and Cool Weather Grasses

For a lot of us, anything green in the yard is good enough.

Then there are the folks who enjoy a thoroughbred lawn, and will tolerate no baloney when it comes to what grows where.

But if you’re considering trading up to something a little more specific, one thing to consider is the climate.

So by request, here’s a little something we like to call “The differences between warm and cool weather grasses”.


It may come as no surprise that warm-season grasses tend to grow best in high temperatures with plenty of long term, direct sunlight and heavy to sporadic rainfall. Warm season grasses are often tropical in origin, growing in areas with dense, thick cover. These grasses grow best in the summer when the temperatures remain between 75-90°F, going dormant pretty quickly in cooler temperatures, generally around late-fall, remaining that way until the spring.

Some common warm weather grasses are

Bermuda Grass
The deep root system of Bermuda Grass makes it ideal for drought situations with penetrable soil. The grass grows best with full sun light, and in temperatures between 75 and 99 °F. In winter, the grass becomes dormant and turns brown.

Centipede grass
Centipede grass is a low maintenance, warm season lawn grass that forms thick sod and is known for uniform growth. It requires infrequent mowing, has a medium tolerance for shade and a limited tolerance for traffic. Centipede grass does well in sandy and acidic soils. But, because of the shallow root system, it does not handle drought conditions well. During the summer months, it is recommended that the grass should only be watered when stressed. Healthy Centipede grass is aggressive enough to choke out weeds and other grasses.

Saint Augustine grass
St. Augustine grass is a medium- to high-maintenance, warm-season lawn grass that is popular for cultivation in tropical and subtropical regions. St. Augustine grass forms a thick, carpet like sod, crowding out most weeds and other grasses. St. Augustine grass grows best wherever there is a good amount of moisture.

Kikuyu grass
An aggressive, rapidly growing grass, it is a popular garden lawn species in Australia, South Africa and Southern California. This inexpensive and drought-tolerant grass is often used for grazing food source. Because of its drought and wear resistant nature, Kikuyu is wildly desired for lawns and golf.

Zoysia grass
Zoysia’s tolerance for variations in temperature, sunlight, and moisture make it ideal for in temperate climates. Zoysia combats soil erosion, is excellent at repelling weeds, weathers traffic and resists common diseases well. I”m pretty sure it can fly too.


Cool weather grasses thrive in temperatures ranging between 65-80 degrees F.

These grasses grow best in Northern American territories, in the spring and fall and some may, in fact brown in higher temperatures.

Cool weather grasses are often sewn in blends or combinations of the following:

Kentucky Blue Grass
The most common of the cool season grasses is Kentucky Bluegrass. Kentucky bluegrass has a moderate growth pattern and will often spread out to fill in bare spots. With a shallow root system, it’s not the most “drought tolerant” of the grasses tending to go dormant during extreme conditions (hot, dry weather, cold winter months, too much shade).

Turf-Type Tall Fescue
Turf-type tall fescue are a popular turf grass for high traffic areas. Coarser than bluegrass, though not as thick as traditional tall fescue, the Turf-type are more drought resistant than many other lawn grasses such as bluegrass or perennial rye grass because of a deeper root system. Resistance to disease and and wear make this ideal for heavy traffic areas.

Tall Fescue
A root system penetrating deep into the soil makes tall fescue more drought resistant that many other lawn grasses. Resistance to disease and wear, make this grass ideal for heavy traffic areas.

Fine Fescues
Fine Fescues survive extreme cold and combine well with other cool-season grasses, however they are a relatively delicate grass, unable to tolerate wear and tear. All of the fescues are shade tolerant and drought resistant, however fine fescues are more so.

Rye grass functions well as a temporary ground cover, allowing other grasses time to establish a strong root system. It is frequently used as an over seed to maintain winter green in the lawn after the warm season grasses go dormant, however, it will not survive the summer heat.

Perennial Rye grass
Perennial rye grasses adapt well to moist, cool, moderate temperatures. It is a high maintenance grass, requiring consistent mowing, watering, fertilization and pest management. Rye grass has a rapid growth rate in the spring and requires twice weekly mowing at the taller heights but has a good tolerance to shade.

For more information on these types of grasses, take a look at


Better Homes and Gardens


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Bill Brown

Bill is the head of content creation for the LawnMowerPros Blog and DIY section. He’s been in the Outdoor Power Equipment Industry for years and he’s still learning new things everyday. You can often find him creating featured articles, DIY guides, videos, graphics and much more.