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Turf Grass In Warmer Climates

Turf grass in warm climates take on a different look throughout the seasons. Grass is basically categorized in two areas. Warm weather grass is for areas that the ground doesn't freeze, or in a sub-tropical or tropical location. Cool or cold weather grass does well in climates where the ground freezes, or frost is prevalent throughout the winter months.

Turf Grass

In the United States, your cool weather grass is used in the northern part of the country. The mid Atlantic, Midwest and upper south, are the transitional areas, that can grow both warm and cooler weather grass.

Colder climates obviously have a shorter growing season and the winter snow blankets the lawns, so when spring arrives, the moisture is already in the ground. In warmer climates, lawns need extra care due to the longer growing season. This article will give you some simple facts on a couple of cool weather and warm weather turf.

Tall Fescue

Tall Fescue is considered a cool or cold weather grass. It will grow in part shade and full sun. It is best to sow seeds in the fall when the summer temperatures have cooled down some. The temperatures should be around 60 to 75 degrees. You can sow in spring, but there is a tendency for weeds to grow along with the grass seed.

A simple way to think about the amount of seed you need is five to eight pounds of seed per thousand square feet. The Fescue is a larger seed and once spread, go ahead and lay down weed free straw mulch or hay. This will definitely help retain moisture in the ground.

Germination times run anywhere from two to three weeks. Tall Fescue needs to be mowed more than other turf grass. In the summer it should be mowed high, about two and a half inches, and slightly shorter in cooler weather. Tall Fescue is a plush grass and will look wonderful, if maintained properly.

Kentucky Blue Grass

Kentucky Blue Grass has medium leaves and is deep and rich in color if kept watered. The Kentucky turf grass can be planted in fall, early winter, or spring. Blue grass needs full sun and doesn't do well under trees. This is the difference between Tall Fescue and Blue grass. Kentucky will germinate well if there is some limestone in the soil. You can sow two to three pounds per thousand square feet.

Herbee's Buzzing Blue Grass Tip

Herbee Greenthumb

A simple tip for you is not to feed your Blue grass during the spring growth. Wait until the growth spurt slows down, fertilize, and again in the fall.

Kentucky Blue Grass is great for sloped areas, and you can add some annual rye mix to make the slope more plush. Blue grass should be mowed the same as Tall Fescue, higher in the warmer months and lower in the cooler months.


Bermuda is a grass that spreads mostly underground. Wild Bermuda can be a nuisance, but the regular grass is one of the fastest growing warm weather grasses. It can be planted from seeds, sod, sprigs or plugs. Sod will grow the fastest. Plant in full sun, but it can take some filtered shade under a variety of trees.

The most popular way to plant Bermuda is by seeds. This can be done in late spring. Use one and a half to two pounds per thousand feet. Bermuda should be fed monthly in the heat of the summer, and stop in late August. When the cooler temperatures set in, Bermuda will turn a golden brown color. The mower should be set at 3/4 inch to one and 1/4 inch high.


Centipede is another warm turf grass, but has above ground runners. This is a favorite of many people in southern climates as well as tropical resorts. It can be planted in full sun, but be careful as the above ground runners can be damaged by heavy traffic. It also can be sown by seed, sprigs or plugs or sod.

Plant this turf grass in April through June, and use one forth to one half pound per thousand feet. Fertilize in May and August. The advantage of Centipede is it doesn't have to be mowed as much like other cooler or warmer grasses. Centipede does have some more nutritional problems than other grasses. Check with your local nursery about the type of Centipede to grow in your area.

St. Augustine

St. Augustine is known as the coastal grass. It will grow well in full sun and moderate shade. This is a warm season turf that should be sown in early summer. Seeds don't do that well and sprigs, plugs and sod are available. St. Augustine adapts well to hot weather, and can tolerate quick flooding and salt spray. This grass will also do well if you add an annual top dressing and organic material.

It can be mowed at one and a half to three inches after August. This grass can survive in non-coastal regions, but the least favorite warm weather grasses near the mountains. Sometimes there are dead areas that will appear, and a solution is to go ahead and do dethatching. The St. Augustine will begin to recover slowly.

Herbee's Hot Buzzing Lawn Books


Zoysia is considered a sub-tropical grass. Zoysia can be sown in late spring. The most common is the Japanese Zoysia. This can be sown from seeds at one to two pounds per thousand square feet. This type of Zoysia growers faster and is light green in color.

Other cultivars of Zoysia can be grown from sprigs, plugs and sod. It is more tolerant of colder temperatures than Bermuda and also turns brown in the winter months.

You can overseed it in the fall with Rye grass, similar to Bermuda care. You should fertilize Zoysia in May, July and August and set your mower at one half to an inch high. A good idea is to think about dethatching every three years with Zoysia.

Either cool or warm turf grass can provide you with years of green and full lawns. Below is a page with some different information of comparing the labor and different aspects of planting sod versus seed. Whether you sow or lay sod, once established, maintaining the lawn is another important step.

With any outside project, it takes planning and proper prepping. I hope these simple facts and tips will help you decide on your next lawn.

Other Articles You Might Be Interested In.

Turf Grass In Tropics --- Sod Or Seed

Ornamental Grasses --- Other Outdoor Features

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