There’s a lot of debate about cool season vs. warm season grass. Which one is better? What are the benefits of cool-season grasses? What are the benefits of warm-season grasses?
Making the decision between cool-season and warm-season grass can be a difficult one. Both types have their pros and cons, and it ultimately depends on your individual circumstances. If you're not sure which type of grass is right for you, don't worry! In this blog post, we will go over the basics of both cool-season and warm-season turfgrass so that you can make an informed decision. We'll also discuss the climate conditions in which each type thrives so that you can choose the best grass for your home!
The Differences Between Warm and Cool-Season Grasses?
Cool-season and warm-season grasses are at opposite ends of the temperature spectrum. Warm-season grasses generally grow from June to early September when temperatures range between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Cool-season grasses, on the other hand, thrive in cooler conditions and prefer a range between 30 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Although cool-season grasses can stay green all year long, warm-season grasses will go dormant (and turn brown) when temperatures drop below the desired range.
As such, cool turf is ideal for those looking for lawns that stay lusciously green year-round, while warm turf may be chosen for locations experiencing hotter summers. Ultimately, cool or warm-season grass selection depends on your local climate as well as personal preference!
What is Cool Grass?
Cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue, are cool-season turfgrasses that prefer cool temperatures and have a growth period from late fall to early spring. These cool-weather grasses grow best when temperatures range between 45-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Cool-season grasses generally have a deep green color and require a moderate amount of water. They are also more tolerant of cool weather and longer periods of drought, making them an ideal choice for cooler climates like the Northeast or Midwest.
Benefits of Cool Season Grasses
Most cool-season grasses are accompanied by their own sets of advantages and disadvantages; however, it is crucial to ensure you research the individual species before planting, as there may be exceptions.
With an abundance of cool-season grasses to choose from, you are sure to find the perfect fit for your lawn.
Cool-season grasses are your best bet for a lush lawn all year long! Homeowners love them for their minimal effort and cost, creating an accessible alternative.
Unlike warm-season grasses, cool-season grasses can survive extreme winter weather conditions, so you don't have to worry about your lawn dying off during the winter months.
Compared to other solutions, short-term erosion control is the ideal option as it establishes quickly and can protect against soil erosion in just a matter of weeks.
Drawbacks of Cool Season Grasses
Compared to warm-season grasses, cool-season varieties do not tolerate extreme summer droughts and high temperatures as well.
Cool-season grasses have greater water needs compared to other types of grass.
They cannot tolerate subpar soil conditions; thus, they require high-quality soils to thrive.
They require larger amounts of nutrients to thrive.
Cool-season grasses, such as perennial ryegrass and tall fescue, are not ideal for providing nesting habitats for wildlife since they tend to flatten much quicker than mature warm-season species.
They are more vulnerable to pests.
What is Warm Season Grass?
Warm-season grasses, such as bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, and buffalograss, prefer warmer temperatures and have a growth period from early spring to late fall. These grasses thrive in temperatures between 70-95 degrees Fahrenheit and require more water than cool-season grasses. They are generally a lighter shade of green than cool-season grasses and are suited for the South or Southwest regions with warm climates.
Benefits of Warm Season Grasses
When conservation efforts are a priority, warm-season grasses should be considered as they typically require 30% less water than their cool-season counterparts. This makes them ideal for arid areas such as Virginia, where the Cooperative Extension highly recommends their use.
Warm-season grasses are more tolerant of pests and poor soil conditions.
They have better nutrient uptake ability and require less intense fertilization.
If you're a fan of pristine lawns, then warm-season grasses (such as Bermuda) are the way to go! They look their best when kept shorter than many cool-season species.
Tall, clump-forming, and stiff-stemmed warm-season grasses make better wildlife habitats.
Established warm-season grasses work well on slopes needing additional erosion control.
Drawbacks of Warm Season Grasses
Dormant cool-season grasses are still green, whereas dormant warm-season grasses are brown.
Cool-season grasses establish more quickly than warm-season grasses.
Warm-season grasses require more weed control management than cool-season grasses.
If you have freezing winters, the grass could die off completely with warm-season grasses while it is dormant.
Cool Season vs. Warm Season Grasses: The Major Differences
Selecting between warm-season and cool-season grasses can be a complex decision, so let's examine how they compare in terms of their looks, cost, installation ease level, and upkeep requirements. Doing this will help us decide which option best suits our needs.
Choosing the right type of turf for your landscape depends on both its aesthetic qualities and its performance.
Cool-season turf is generally a more reliable bet if you want the green to last year-round; they stay green even through drought but may require extra watering.
On the other hand, cool-season varieties tend to grow taller and more erect, producing a thicker privacy screen while still providing adequate views. However, they go dormant and die out in cold weather, leaving your lawn brown until warmer temperatures return. Deciding between cool or warm-season grass will ultimately depend on your climate and desired use of your landscape.
If you live in a cool climate and are shopping for the perfect grass for your lawn, cool-season grasses are the ideal choice.
Not only are they generally priced lower than their warm-season counterparts, but they are easier to come by too. When compared to cool turf options, like Bluegrass or Rye Grass, warm-season selections, such as Bermuda Grass or St. Augustine grass, can be more expensive and sometimes difficult to identify at local retailers.
So if you're trying to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to lawn care and landscaping, cool-season grasses might just be the way to go!
For those looking to establish a lawn, cool-season turfgrass is undoubtedly the easier option. It germinates quicker - in as little as two weeks - while warm-season grasses can take up to a couple of years to reach the full establishment.
However, cool-season grasses require regular watering if you want to avoid any seeding mortality during periods of drought, whereas warm-season grasses will still thrive even with sporadic amounts of hydration.
Taking time to consider cool-season grasses or warm-season grasses is essential for those who may not have sufficient access to water or resources for upkeep.
If you're in a suitable climate and looking to keep your lawn looking healthier for longer, warm-season turf may be the route for you.
Warm-season grasses generally require less maintenance or fertilization than cool-season species, so they are a better choice if you want something that doesn’t need frequent division to keep it alive.
On the contrary, cool-season grass often needs more regular maintenance as it tends to suffer in hot and dry weather — therefore, aeration and reseeding may be necessary in order to fill any patches of wear and tear. So when considering which type of turf is best suited for your needs, keep ease of maintenance in mind!
Which One is Best For you?
When it comes to picking the perfect cool-season or warm-season grass, there are a few things you have to take into account. Climate, sunlight, maintenance, and soil conditions are all important factors that will help determine which type of grass is best for your home.
Warmer climates in the southern United States are perfect for warm-season grasses, while cool-season varieties thrive in temperate and northern regions.
To ensure a lush green lawn all year round, it is essential to familiarize yourself with which kind of grass will be most suitable for your area. Otherwise, you may find an unfortunate brown or sickly landscape instead!
With all this information in hand, you should now have a better understanding of what kind of grass is best for your lawn. If you need help making a decision or would like professional advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts at CS Designer Landscaping. We can help you select the perfect type of grass for your home and ensure that it’s installed correctly so that you can enjoy a beautiful, healthy lawn all season long.