How to Identify Popular Lawn Grass Species

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For homeowners looking to achieve the perfect lawn, identifying the type of grass that is currently growing in their lawn is an essential first step.

Identifying your grass type is important whether you are overseeding, filling bare spots or planting a whole new lawn.

While many don’t realize it at first glance, each species of grass has its own growth habits, maintenance requirements, texture and shade of green. Knowing your grass type means you’ll be able to choose a seed blend that will produce the right look as well as provide optimal performance over time.

That said, identifying the type of grass in your lawn isn’t always easy. Even seasoned gardeners may find themselves stumped when trying to differentiate between various species.

In this article, we take a look at the key characteristics to look for to identify the 5 most popular lawn types in the USA.

Tall Fescue Identification

tall fescue

Tall fescue is a popular lawn grass species, commonly identified by its many equal-sized veins running lengthwise up the blades and kneed canoe shaped leaf tip. It is an attractive, cool-season grass capable of withstanding heat and drought, making it an ideal choice for many homeowners.

Tall fescue can be further identified by its branching panicle style seed head; the seed heads are typically 8-20 inches long and are slightly curved at the end. The heads may start off as purplish-red in colour but will transition to a golden brown when fully mature.

The widespread recognition of tall fescue’s numerous benefits has led it to become one of the top five lawn grass species across North America. It’s no surprise that this durable turfgrass continues to be a popular choice for both landscaped yards and golf courses alike. 

Tall Fescue Features:

  1. Many equal-sized veins running lengthwise up the blades
  2. Kneed canoe shaped leaf tip
  3. Branching panicle style seed head
  4. Seed heads 8-20 inches long and slightly curved at the end
  5. Purplish-red in color initially, transitioning to golden brown when fully mature.

Kentucky Bluegrass Identification

kentucky bluegrass

The distinguishing features of Kentucky bluegrass make it particularly attractive to both homeowners and professional landscapers alike. Its unique color palette ranges from vibrant emerald greens to deep purples and blues, providing a stunning contrast against other turf varieties.

Look for a kneeled canoe-shaped leaf tip and a prominent mid-vein running up the middle of the leaf blade.

The third thing to look for is rhizomes under the soil, as it has a Rhizomatous growth habit.

Its ability to thrive in full sun or partial shade also makes it a great choice for locations with fluctuating temperatures or unpredictable weather patterns. Additionally, its quick establishment rate ensures that any property owner can enjoy a well-manicured lawn in no time at all.

Kentucky Bluegrass Features:

  1. Unique color palette of vibrant emerald greens to deep purples and blues
  2. Kneeled canoe-shaped leaf tip
  3. Prominent mid-vein running up the middle of the leaf blade
  4. Rhizomatous growth habit with rhizomes under the soil.

Bermuda Grass Identification

bermuda grass

One of the top five lawn grass species is Bermuda grass, a warm-season turfgrass. It’s commonly found in the southern states from Florida up to California.

BermudaGrass has a coarse texture and has some of its roots above the ground (stolons). 

There are also small hairs where the leaf sheath meets the leaf blade.

If the grass goes to seed, then the seed head resembles a bird’s foot.

Bermuda grass is drought tolerant and will endure high temperatures better than other types of turfgrass. It can be planted by either seed or sod and will spread quickly. The thick growth it produces makes it resistant to weeds, but it may need extra fertilizer to maintain its green color if there is heavy traffic or prolonged periods of drought.

Bermuda Grass Features:

  1. Coarse texture
  2. Roots above ground (stolons)
  3. Small hairs at the junction of the leaf sheath and blade
  4. Seed head resembling a bird’s foot.

Perennial Ryegrass Identification

Perennial or winter ryegrass Lolium perenne

Perennial ryegrass is a popular species of lawn grass, providing lawns with green turf year-round. 

Its similar appearance to Kentucky bluegrass makes it an attractive choice for many homeowners, but it’s important to understand how to identify perennial ryegrass correctly.

A distinguishing feature of perennial ryegrass is the shiny back of the leaf blade. This is often found in combination with a compact, spike-like seed head that sets it apart from other grasses in its family. In addition, the leaves and stems are more sparse than other varieties, allowing for more water and light penetration into the soil below.

Finally, if you pull out some of the grass from the soil and check the base of the stems, they will be reddish-purple if it’s perennial ryegrass.

Perennial Ryegrass Features:

  1. Shiny back of the leaf blade
  2. Compact, spike-like seed head
  3. Sparse leaves and stems
  4. Reddish-purple base of the stems when pulled out from the soil.

Fine Fescue Identification

closeup of fine fescue

The fine fescue grass species may not be the most popular choice for a lush lawn, but it’s certainly one of the most distinct. Contrary to what many people think, this grass has its own unique characteristics that make it stand out from the rest.

While not as eye-catching or vibrant as some other grasses, fine fescue can easily be identified by its finely bladed leaves and a lighter green color compared to other species.

The Leaf blades are very narrow and are folded, the veins are not usually visible and the underside is dull.

This species also has a rhizomatous growth habit.

What sets fine fescue apart from other grass species is its ability to survive in drier climates and soils. This makes them an ideal choice for those who live in areas with high levels of rainfall or where water is scarce. Additionally, they require less maintenance than other varieties, making them a great option for busy homeowners.

Fine Fescue Features:

  1. Finely bladed leaves
  2. Lighter green color compared to other species
  3. Narrow, folded leaf blades with dull underside and invisible veins
  4. Rhizomatous growth habit.
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Aaron Green
Aaron is the founder of and Essential Home and Garden. He likes to spend his spare time with his family, and doing DIY projects in the home and garden.

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