20 popular types of grass with photos and facts

do you think grass is just grass? if so, you may not know that there are a few different types of grass available blanketing lawns all over the united states with their own maintenance, textures, benefits, and requirements. also, depending on where you live, you’ll have more luck growing a specific type of grass than you would another one.

a lot of people move into a house with an already established lawn, so you don’t have to decide which type of grass will work best. understanding the differences between the grass types will allow you to find out what you’re working with and what you need to do to keep it happy and thriving.

we’ve outlined the most common types of grass for you below. no matter if you’re trying to figure out how to take good care of your yard or you’re starting from a bare yard and building up, here’s all you need to know about different grass types below.

1 lush yard

defining grass

grass is a blanket term used to reference plants in the poaceae family. to date, there are over 11,000 species of grass, but turfgrasses and ornamental grass make up the biggest cultivated varieties. homeowners who are searching for a lush, vibrant lawn should only have to choose from a dozen or so grass varieties.

there are several environmental factors that play into the type of grass you settle on, and they can quickly help you narrow down which ones will thrive and which ones will have a tough time in your yard. as a general rule, you can break it down into cool and warm season grass, and you also count ornamental grass, depending on your hardiness zone.

how to choose the best types of grass

to get the best looking lawn possible, you have to match the type of grass to your environment. how do you know which to pick? here are the most important factors to keep in mind when you shop:

  • climate – figure out if you need cool season or warm season grass for your lawn. some species of grass, like zoysia grass or kentucky bluegrass grow well in the transition zone between the two.
  • foot traffic – if you need a type of durable, hardy grass, pick a species that will survive heavy foot traffic and bounce back.
  • maintenance – like any type of plant, types of grass need different maintenance levels. looking at a green, lush, and pristine lawn can take a lot of effort and time during the spring and summer months.
  • sunlight – does your lawn get a lot of sunlight? some types of grass do well in full, bright sunlight but falter in the shade of your trees. other grass varieties are shade tolerant and grow well in different conditions.

since most lawns are a mix of conditions, you can find different types of grass or complementary options to improve how hardy it is. you can sow your seed lawn mixture or grass seed in an existing lawn to make it more suitable for your climate.

1. bermuda grass (cynodon dactylon)

this is a perennial, warm-season type of grass that is also called scutch grass, devil’s grass, or dog’s tooth grass. it’s a fantastic choice for lawns because it is resistant to heat, hard-wearing, and it can withstand a large amount of foot traffic. even with poor soil conditions, this grass will thrive. you need to put this grass in areas that have little shade and very bright light. it’s a resilient choice that needs to grow in soil that drains very well.

this grass is a greenish-gray color, and it has flat, short blades with rough edges. the deeper root system allows this grass to withstand droughts, and the thick growth ensures that it forms a dense may of very lush turfgrass. when you compare this type of grass to others for warm regions, it’s usually much hardier and more resistant to drought and heat. it’s a fast-growing option, and you’ll need to mow the lawn more frequently during the spring and summer months.

identifying this type of grass:

  • blade shape: thin, flat, and short
  • coloring: dark greenish-gray
  • growth habit: spreading to form a thick mat

2 bermuda grass

2. buffalo grass (bouteloua dactyloides)

buffalo grass is a type of grass known as a warm-season perennial, and this seed will tolerate drought and heat well. as a heat-hardy sod, it’s very popular for use in texas, california, and other southern states. the shorter stature on the blades also means that it’s easy to maintain in hotter climates. however, since it has a shorter growth habit, it tends to have issues with weeds like broadleaf and crabgrass. if you grow it as a lawn grass, you’ll get a fine turf.

if you grow this type of grass in areas with lower moisture or drought conditions, it keeps a pretty greenish-blue coloring. if you look very close at the leaves, you’ll notice that they curl at the tips. the best climate to plant this grass is a yard with low rainfall and a lot of sun. high rainfall will lead to weeds, and it doesn’t grow well if you plant it in a shaded area or if there is a lot of traffic.

identifying this type of grass:

  • blade shape: curly leaves with a wider shape
  • coloring: dark greenish-blue
  • growth habit: spreading growth due to runners that create an attractive turf

3 buffalo grass

3. bahiagrass (paspalum notatum)

also known as the common bahia, this type of grass is a warm-season perennial option that grows well in subtropical climates. this grass is very hard-wearing, and it’s common to find this grass in the southeast and in florida. when you use it, it’s a low-maintenance option that is drought-tolerant and heat-tolerant. it’s also a very popular type of grass to add to pastures because it spreads using creeping stolons and it has a low profile that you don’t have to mow often.

as a result, you’ll get a very dense turfgrass that stands up to foot traffic. the blades are hairless, and they usually measure roughly 6 millimeters wide. you can tell this grass by the folded, flat blades that taper to a slight point. it’s very similar to zoysia and bermuda grasses, and it’s only green during the active growing season. to keep the lawn looking green and lush throughout the year, you could mix in cool-season ryegrass.

identifying this type of grass:

  • blade shape: broad, folded blades that will taper to a point
  • coloring: very light green
  • growth habit: spreading and slow growth that forms a lush, thick turf

4 bahiagrass

4. centipede grass (eremochloa ophiuroides)

centipede types of grass will form a very thick layer that does well in warmer temperatures with little input from you. it’s a very dense lawn grass that grows best in full sun, but it can also survive medium or light shade. it’s a popular choice in southeastern states with any homeowners that want lush green lawns from spring to late summer. it’s a medium or light green color, and you can tell this grass by the medium-length blades that are lanceolate and thin shaped.

for the best results, plant this type of grass in poor soil that is acidic or sandy. if you live around coastal areas, it’s better to plant bermuda or st. augustine grass because they resist salt better. you may hear this grass called lazy man’s grass because it’s so low-maintenance. regular watering and mowing will keep it healthy, but it doesn’t have that deep green color that other types of grass offer.

identifying this type of grass:

  • blade shape: very thin, folded leaves that will form a boat shape or taper to a point
  • coloring: light to medium green
  • growth habit: slow-growing that spreads using runners

5 centipede grass

5. fine fescue grass (festuca)

fine fescue is one variety of cold season grass that is a very common turfgrass or ornamental grass. there are five main species of this grass, including:

  • chewings fescue
  • creeping red fescue
  • hard fescue
  • sheep fescue
  • slender fescue

people use this type of grass to form sports fields, lush lawns, parks,and to help prevent the soil from eroding. in the united states, this is one of the most used grasses for pastures and in high-quality animal feed. if you want solid grass to form a nice lawn, this is a nice choice. it’s a very versatile option that you can have growing in your yard, and it will grow in most soil conditions. also, it’s cold and shade-tolerant, and it doesn’t need a lot of maintenance. this seed usually gets mixed in with bermuda grass, bluegrass, or ryegrass to make them more hardy.

this type of grass also offers some of the most narrow blades and leaves that are less than 1.5 millimeters wide. since the leaves are delicate, you don’t want this grass in high traffic areas. it can look nice in a well-manicured lawn because you can easily mow it to a very short length.

identifying this type of grass:

  • blade shape: narrow blades that with form a sharp point
  • coloring: medium to dark green
  • growth habit: bunching growth that germinates fast before slowing down

6 fine fescue grass

6. kentucky bluegrass (poa pratensis)

kentucky bluegrass is the top pick for grass if you’re trying to get a perfect, picturesque lawn. it’s a cold-season grass that grows into a dense, lush, green turf that is very durable. it got the name kentucky bluegrass because it was a very popular perennial pasture and lawn grass throughout the state, and you may see the sod or seed marketed as kbg. the trademark of this grass are the blades, and they grow with narrow leaves and boat-shaped tips. the blades can get up to eight inches long and five millimeters broad with a very smooth feel.

when you compare this type of grass to other species, this is a very slow-growing choice. it also comes with higher maintenance needs than you’ll get with most cold-season grass. however, the green coloring is extremely lush, and it can make it work the additional work. it can tolerate some heat, and it’s a nice option to grow in a transition space.

identifying this type of grass:

  • blade shape: flat or folded blades that have boat-shaped tips with a slight curve
  • coloring: greenish-blue to rich emerald
  • growth habit: slow-growing culviar that spreads using rhizomes

7 kentucky bluegrass

7. perennial ryegrass (lolium perenne)

as the name of this type of grass suggests, it grows throughout the year and doesn’t need you to replant it in the spring. it’s a fast-growing option that will form from seeds. you may hear it called ray grass, english ryegrass, and winter grass. this is a cold season grass that is popular in areas where you require excellent cold tolerance. the best climate for this grass is one that features a mild summer and colder winters. in states outside of the midwest, this is one of the most popular lawn grasses to have.

in southern regions, this type of grass is one that you commonly grow with bermuda grass to give you a lush lawn all year round. the grass blades have fine ribs that run throughout the length of the blade if you look close enough, and the blades have a flat shape that tapers to a point. it also grows in bunches or clumps, and this makes it easy to spot. the fine texture makes it suitable as stadium grass, as well as used for golf course greens and tennis courts.

identifying this type of grass:

  • blade shape: folded at the base before flattening out
  • coloring: medium to dark green
  • growth habit: fast to germinate and grows slowly once established

8 perennial ryegrass

8. st. augustine grass (stenotaphrum secundatum)

one type of grass that grows well in hot regions is st. augustine. it loves a lot of bright sunshine, and it’s a very fast-growing option that forms a very dense mat. this is a very popular dense turfgrass in florida and hotter coastal regions because it offers a very lush look. this sod will also grow in a broad range of soil types, and this makes it suitable for tropical areas as warm-season lawn. you can identify this grass by the flat, broad blades that are a very dark green. the blade shape is another way to identify this grass as it tapers to a rounded tip.

since this is a very popular warm-season type of grass, you can find it competing with bermuda grass. however, when you compare it to bahiagrass, this one needs more maintenance, including watering, mowing, and fertilization. it’s more durable than bahia grass though.

identifying this type of grass:

  • blade shape: leaves are coarse and broad
  • coloring: dark bluish-green
  • growth habit: fast-growing in tropical conditions

9 st augustine grass

9. tall fescue grass (festuca arundinacea)

this is a cool-season perennial type of grass that will grow in a broad range of environments. since this type of grass can tolerate cold, what, shade, and drought, it’s suitable for virtually every yard. if you live in temperate climates, this grass is a solid choice for your garden and yard. the hardiness level of this grass comes from the fact that it has a bigger root system, and it’s deeper than any cold-season grass on the list. the clumping growth nature makes it very hardy, and the deep roots will absorb nutrients and moisture where other grass species can’t.

the blade type is what sets fine fescue and tall fescue grass apart. tall grass comes with broader leaves and it’s hardier than the fine fescue grass. also, tall fescue turfgrass is more robust, and it needs less maintenance to do well. you may only need to mow the lawn one time a month and water occasionally as it’s one of the easiest grasses to look after.

identifying this type of grass:

  • blade shape: broad leaves
  • coloring: light emerald green
  • growth habit: bunch-forming

10 tall fescue grass

10. zoysia grass (zoysia)

zoysia grass was named after a solvenian botanist, and it’s a warm-season option that will tolerate a broad range of growing conditions. this turfgrass is an all-around popular pick that you see in golf course fairways, lawns, and other places where high traffic is a thing. the popular grass comes with a softer feel and a fine texture that creates a dense, lush mat. it will grow well in a transition zone or in warmer regions of the united states, and the thinner blades grow very well in full sun or medium shade.

this type of grass offers great cold and heat tolerance, and this means that it does well in several climates. being a low-maintenance lawn grass, it’s the choice of sod for hundreds of homeowners. the grass blades come with a deep green color and a fine texture, and the flat blades measure roughly two millimeters wide. it’s drought-resistant, and it’ll hold up well under heavy foot traffic. since this lawn forms such a dense mat, it can be difficult to get a push mower through it.

identifying this type of grass:

  • blade shape: thin blades that taper to a point and have a rolled look
  • coloring: emerald green
  • growth habit: spreading growth and a low profile

11 zoysia grass

types of ornamental grass

ornamental grasses can easily add variety or texture to your yard, border, or flower beds. there are many to choose from, and some of the most popular ones include:

blue fescue grass

this ornamental grass will give you clumps of blue, spiky foliage. it’s not suitable to use as a lawn grass, but it makes a fun addition to your rock gardens. you can also easily use it as a ground cover. it thrives in zones four to eight, and you want to plant it somewhere with a moist, well-draining soil in full sun.

12 blue fescue grass

blue oat grass

this type of grass gives you silvery-blue, large grass-like foliage. it can reach between three and six feet tall at full maturity, and mass plantings are a nice way to add privacy to your yard or garden. this grass is hardy in zones four to eight.

13 blue oat grass

feather reed grass

you’ll get a very dramatic visual effect in your garden with this type of grass, and you can use it as a privacy screen. karl foerster is very popular, and the green foliage on the base of this grass will turn to golden-brown stalks that sway when the breeze comes up. it does well in swampy, wet soil, and it can tolerate drought. it’s hardy in zones four to nine.

14 feather reed grass

little bluestem

this ornamental bunch grass will give you greenish-blue foliage early in the spring months before it turns to a deeper shade of red in the fall. it has a clumping, dense growth habit that can reach up to two feet tall. it’s very tolerant of drought and does well when the soil completely dries out between watering sessions. it thrives in sandy soil, and you can plant it outside in zones 3 to 10.

15 little bluestem

maiden grass

this is one of the most common ornamental grasses you can find, and it’s easy to grow. also, it can adapt to a broad range of growing conditions. it produces silvery-green, slender stems with feathery beige foliage. it does best in well-draining but moist soil in full sun, and it is hardy in zones 4 to 10.

16 maiden grass

mexican feather grass

this type of grass offers a mounding growth habit that gives you green, long stems with feathery, golden foliage. it’s hardy in zones 6 to 10, and it will tolerate partial shade to full sun. it will be fine if you get out your scissors and trim it, and it’ll produce new growth after. it will tolerate most soil types, including clay and sandy soil, but it does best in slightly acidic, well-draining soil.

17 mexican feather grass
mexican feather grass by stealingsand / cc by-nc 2.0

pampas grass

pampas grass is great for providing you a privacy barrier for your yard or garden. mature plants can easily get up to 12 feet high with a 6 foot spread, and they have cascading green foliage with golden, large, feathery blooms. you can dry out the stems and use them in flower arrangements. pampas grass is hardy in zones 8 to 10, and it grows well in moist but well-draining soil and full sun.

18 pampas grass

pink muhly grass

this perennial north american ornamental grass has a reputation for having a high amount of drought tolerance, and the flowerheads are pretty pink. this grass is native to florida and southern portions of the united states, and it loves to be in rocky, dry soil. it has a very high resilience to harsh heat conditions, and this makes it a go-to choice for people who live in states where the transition process from fall to spring are forgiving.

19 pink muhly grass

purple fountain grass

as the name suggests, this type of grass gives you feathery, purplish-red foliage. it’s deer-resistant, drought-tolerant, and low-maintenance. it does require that you deadhead it once the flowers dry out in the late summer or early autumn months. it’s hardy in zones 9 and 10, but you can grow it as an annual in colder climates. you want to plant this in partial shade or full sun in a well-draining soil.

20 purple fountain grass

zebra grass

zebra grass is a perennial that has green foliage with horizontal yellow bands on the blades of the leaves. you may hear it called japanese silver grass since it produces silvery-white blooms. it tends to clump with other cultivars and form a very thick hedge, and when you combine this with the ability to reach seven feet tall, it can make an imposing addition to your landscape.

21 zebra grass

bottom line

we’ve outlined several types of grass and their growing conditions for you, and you can use this short guide to mix and match and see which one will suit your needs the most. picking out the correct type of grass will enable you to have a lush, thick, and healthy lawn all spring and summer long.

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