Review Article

Lawn Grasses-A Review  

Lakshman De
ICAR-NRC for Orchids, Pakyong, Sikkim,India
Author    Correspondence author
International Journal of Horticulture, 2017, Vol. 7, No. 11   doi: 10.5376/ijh.2017.07.0011
Received: 05 Apr., 2017    Accepted: 08 Apr., 2017    Published: 31 May, 2017
© 2017 BioPublisher Publishing Platform
This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Preferred citation for this article:

De L.C., 2017, Lawn grasses-a review, International Journal of Horticulture, 7(11): 82-94 (doi: 10.5376/ijh.2017.07.0011)


Lawn  is the heart of the garden and the centre for social life. These  are considered as an essential component of private gardens, public landscapes and parks in various parts of the world. Lawn is the best foreground to enjoy the charm and beauty of the ornamental plants and features. They are developed  for aesthetic pleasure, as well as for sports or other outdoor recreational purpose. Based on climatic requirements, they are classified into two categories, viz. cool season and summer season grasses. In the review, description, varieties, importance and uses of Alkali grass (Puccinella distans), Annual  Blue Grass (Poa annua), Canada blue grass (Poa compressa), Colonial Bentgrass (Agrotis capillaris), Creeping Bentgrass, (Agrotis stolonifera), Fine Fescues, Kentucky Blue Grass (Poa pratensis), Perennial Rye Grass (Lolium perenne), Rough Blue Grass (Poa trivialis), Velvet bentgrass (Agrotis canina) and Wheatgrass (Agropyron spp) and warm season grasses namely Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum), Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis), Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides), Carpet grass (Axonopus affinis), Centipede grass (Eremochloa  phiuroides), Kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum), Salt grass (Distichlis spicata) and Zoysia grass (Zoysia spp.) are discussed in details.

Lawn; Cool season; Warm season; Grasses

1 Introduction

It is a natural green carpet and is the carpeted floor of outdoor room. It leads to unity in garden design. It is the heart of the garden and the centre for social life (Jenkins, 1994). Lawns are considered as an essential component of private gardens, public landscapes and parks in different parts of the world. Lawn is the best foreground to enjoy the charm and beauty of the ornamental plants and features. They are developed for aesthetic pleasure, as well as for sports or other outdoor recreational purpose (Beard and Green,1994). Lawns are utilized as a playing surface both because they control erosion and dust generated by huge foot traffic and because they are used as a cushion for players in sports such as rugby, football, soccer, cricket, baseball, golf, tennis, hockey and lawn bocce (Reynolds and Flint, 2009). The lawn has become a central element in landscapes. Turfgrass culture, is a multi-billion dollar industry in the world (Wong and Harivandi, 2009).


Although lawns are made up of grasses alone, other plants like sedges, low herbs, wild flowers and ground covers are also used. For creating a lawn mainly cool season grasses, warm season grasses and grass alternatives are used (Harivandi et al., 2001).


Grasses: Coarse grasses are used for play grounds whereas fine grasses are useful in ornamental lawns for visual impacts (Randhawaya and Mukhopadhyay, 2001).


Cool season grasses: Cool season grasses thrive at a temperature between 10oC and 25oC and they retain their colour in extreme cold. eg., blue grass (Poa spp.), bent grass (Agrostis spp.), rye grass (Lolium spp.), fescues (Festuca spp., hybrids), red fescues (Festuca rubra), feather reed grass (Calamogrostis spp.), tufted hair garss (Deschampsia spp.) (De, 2012).


Warm season grasses: These types of grasses grow well at a temperature between 25oC and 35oC. e.g, zoysia grass (Zoysia spp.), Bermuda grass (Cynodon spp.), St. Augustine grass, Bahia Grass (Paspalum spp.), centipede grass (Eremachloa), carpet grass (Axonopus), buffalo grass, grama grass (De, 2013).


Grass alternatives: Both slow growing and spreading ornamental genotypes and native species of Carex like Carex pansa and Carex praegracilis are useful in sustainable landscaping as low maintenance and drought tolerant grass alternatives for lawns and garden meadows.


2 Cool Season Lawn Grasses

2.1 Alkali grass (Puccinella distans)

Description: This is a native of the Western and north eastern U.S., the Great Plains, New Mexico to Canada. A cool season and low-growing, erect, perennial bunchgrass. Panicle seed heads are semi-prostrate and feathery. Culms are 30-45 cm tall and loose matted turf forming. Leaves are narrow and deep green. Alkaligrass has an aggressive, shallow root system that is able to withstand periodic flooding.


Varieties: ‘Fults’


Importance and uses: This grass is used for reclamation, stabilization of roadside, fairway roughs and turf on saline-alkali soils. It is generally crowded out on neutral and acid soils by other grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue. It is best for ground cover on saline and alkali soils. It can be harvested at a 1-0-1.5 cm height for getting dense upright stands and playable fairways or 5cm height for golf course roughs, landscaping and home lawns. Alkaligrass are also used in mixtures with fescue and bluegrass species for extra fine turf.


It has capacity to persist along road shoulders where salt hazard exists. It is also well adapted to low quality water or waste effluents.


2.2 Annual blue grass (Poa annua) (Johnson et al., 1993)

Description: It is a native to Eurasia and it may have evolved as a tetraploid hybrid between Poa supina and Poa infirma. It bears a slightly creeping and fibrous rootstock. The stems are 20-25cm tall. The panicle is triangular shaped, 5.5 to 7.5 cm long. The spikelets are stalked but awnless, 1 to 2 cm in length at flowering, and loosely borne on tender paired or spreading branches. Sometimes, they are tinged purple in colour. The leaves are vivid green, short and blunt at the tips, soft and drooping. The stems are clasped by long sheaths. The leaves are glabrous above and below, with finely serrated margins. Occasionally the leaf margins are transversely serrated. The ligule is acute, pointed and silvery. It can flower round the year except for severe winters.


Varieties: Poa annua L var. annua (Winter annual) and Poa annua L. var. reptans (Short lived perennial).


Importance and uses: This is a low-growing, tufted, annual winter grass and is widely found in lawns, fields and roadsides. The annual type predominates in cultivated areas, and the perennial types flourish in closely mowed areas such as golf courses and pasture.


2.3 Canada blue grass (Poa compressa) (Klein, 2008; AOSCA, 2010)

Description: Canada blue grass is native to Europe. It is an introduced and perennial rhizomatous grass. Culms grow to a height of 15-20 cm, hollow, flattened and glabrous to scaberulous. Sheaths are open, smooth, or faintly scaberulous, flattened, and keeled. Leaves are flat, folded or loosely involute, boat tipped, glabrous to scabrous and grooved down middle of upper blade surface. The inflorescence is a narrow panicle 4-8 cm long. Spikelets are 3 to 8 flowered, and tufted at the end of the branches. Canada bluegrass is considered to be apomictic and the chromosome number is 2n = 42.


Varieties: ‘Canon’ (USDA, 1994), ‘Foothills’, ‘Reubens’, ‘Talon’


Importance and uses: It is a tough, sod forming grass and best for stabilizing low, fertile rocky to clay soils. Due to the tap root, spreading rhizomes and low growth, this grass is utilized extensively for erosion control and low maintenance landscaping on infertile roadsides, wastelands and reclamation areas.


2.4 Colonial bentgrass (Agrotis capillaris) (Alderson, 1995)

Description: This grass is an introduction from Europe and widely domesticated in U.S. It is a winter-season, stolon bearing grass, 15 to 40cm tall. This is arranged with dense-tuft, short stolons and dense sod. Leaves are short, fine-textured, green to dark, basal and light to blue green in colour. Inflorescence is an open panicle, pyramid or cone-shaped, with abundant short stolons but without rhizomes.


Common varieties: ‘Highland’, ‘Allister’, “Glory’, ‘Tiger II’, ‘Bardot’, ‘Greentime’, ‘SR 7100’,’Tiger’


Low density turf varieties: ‘SR 1700’, ‘SR 7150’, ‘Bardot’


Varieties with fine texture leaves: ‘SR7150’, ‘SR 7100’, ‘Allister’, ‘Tiger-II’


Varieties with coarse texture leaves: ‘Glory’, ‘Bardot’


Importance and uses: It is useful in lawns, golf course fairways, landscaping, and erosion control. It is ideal for combination with other turf grasses and clovers for grasslands or landscaping around industrial areas. It is tolerant to moderate winter flooding, high water tables, or poor drainage.


2.5 Creeping Bent grass (Agrotis stolonifera) (Beard, 1973; Pennucci and Langille, 2005)

Description: It is native to Eurasia and North America. The grass is a very fine-textured and bright green in colour. The leaves are narrow, and rolled in the a bud, auricleless and a long, tapered ligulate. Creeping bentgrass is a low-growing grass having a shallow root system. It spreads by stolons through formation of a mat or thatch layer above the soil line. The grass is not tufted and the spikelets are red and tightly closed within the panicle. Creeping bentgrass is an allotetraploid with chromosome number 2n = 28. It is cross pollinated and can develop interspecific hybrids (Dickinson, 1930; Warnke, 2003).


Varieties (Alderson and Sharp, 1995):

·Vegetatively established cultivars: ‘Arlington (C1), ‘Cohansey’, ‘Columbia’, ‘Totonto’, ‘Congressional’, ‘Collins’, ‘Metropolitan’, ‘Northland’, ‘Pennlu’, ‘Pennpar’, ‘Springfield’, ‘Vermont’, ‘Virginia’, ‘Washington’, ‘Dahlgreen’.

·Seeded varieties: ‘Seaside’, ‘Penncross’, ‘Penn A-1,’ ‘Penn A-4’, ‘Penn G-1,’ ‘Penn G-2’ and ‘Penn G-6’.

·Varieties with fine leaf texture: ‘Authority’, ‘Century’, ‘Declaration’, ‘Penn A1’, ‘Penn A2’, ‘Penn A 4’, ‘Penn G1’, ‘Penn G2’, ‘Penn G6’, ‘T1’, ‘Tyee’.

·Varieties with coarse leaf texture: ‘Penncross’, ‘Pennlinks’, ‘Putter’, ‘Trueline’, ‘Seaside’.

·High density cultivars: ‘Authority,’ ‘Benchmark DSR, ‘Declaration,’ ‘T-1’ and ‘Tyee.

·Moderate density cultivars: ‘Alpha,’ ‘Independence,’ ‘Kingpin,’ ‘LS-44,’ ‘Memorial,’ ‘Penneagle II,’ ‘Pennlinks II’ and ‘SR1150’.

·Standard and improved types: ‘Backspin,’ ‘Bengal,’ ‘Cato,’ ‘Century,’ ‘Cobra,’ ‘Crenshaw,’ ‘L-93,’ ‘Ninety-six Two,’ ‘SR1019’ (‘Providence’), ‘SR 1020’ (‘Tapiz’), ‘SR 1119,’ ‘SR1120’ (‘Brighton’), ‘Penneagle,’ ‘Pennlinks,’ ‘Princeville,’ ‘Putter,’ ‘Grand Prix,’ ‘Sandhill,’ ‘Seaside II,’ ‘Trueline’ and ‘Viper’.

·Low density cultivars: ‘Cobra’, ‘Penncross’, ‘Seaside’, ‘Viper’, ‘Seaside’.

·Brown patch tolerant varieties: ‘Century’, ‘Authority’, ‘Imperial’, ‘Memorial, ‘Penn G-1’, ‘Sandhill’, ‘Declaration’ and ‘Tyee’.

·Dollar spot tolerant varieties: ‘007’, ‘13M’, ‘Declaration’, Kingpin’, ‘Memorial’, ‘Pennlinks’.


Importance and uses: This is a cool-season grass mainly used in golf course putting greens, lawn bowling greens, and lawn tennis facilities. It is well adapted to cool and humid regions and grow well in sunny areas but tolerant of some shade. It is tolerant of low temperatures but will discolour early in the winter.


2.6 Fine fescues

Fescues are popular for their drought as well as their shade tolerance, which makes them a desirable species of grass because of its suitability to different climatic conditions. Fescue grasses have the capacity to stay green round the year, which only adds to their desirability as a turfgrass species. Hard fescue, Chewings fescue, (blue) sheep fescue, creeping red fescue and slender creeping red fescue are the common five species or subspecies.


Advantages of fine fescues

· They germinate very quick

· They are fine leaf textured

· They have high leaf density

· They prefer low nitrogen fertility

· They can tolerate poor (rocky, sandy, clay) soil conditions

· They are drought resistant

· They are moderate to very good salt tolerant (6-10 mmhos/cm)

· They are good to very good shade tolerant

· They are very cold tolerant

· They are excellent high elevation/mountain grass


Hard Fescue (Festuca longifolia)

Hard fescue is a bunch-type lawngrass, arranged with tough, bluish-green leaves and an extensive root system. It can develop a dense, somewhat tufted, low maintenance and low quality lawn. Hard fescue sometimes used alone or in grass and grass-legume mixtures for control of erosion on ditches, banks and along roadsides. Popular varieties are ‘Aurora’, ‘Aurora Gold’, ‘Chariot’, ‘Discovery’, ‘Ecostar’, ‘Heron’, ‘Rescue 911’, ‘Scaldis’, ‘Warwick’


Chewing Fescue (Festuca rubra subspp. commutata)

Chewings fescue is useful in forming a very dense, fine textured and upright lawn. Leaf blades of chewing fescue are thin, bristle-like and stiff. This non-creeping, bunch-type lawngrass is ideal for acidic and infertile soils. Popular varieties are ‘Banner –III’, ‘Jamestown-II’, ‘Longfellow-II’, ‘Shadow-II’, ‘Tiffany’, ‘Windward’.


Sheep Fescue (Festuca ovina)

Sometimes they are commonly called as “blue sheep fescue”, generally useful in lower maintenance lawns, growing specially well in infrequently- or un-mowed, naturalized lawn areas. They are long-lived bunch grasses that can mix up well with wildflowers, without dominating them. Some sheep fescues are exploited for producing a blue-green or glaucous green color (Azay Blue, SR3200), while others are more powder blue or “flat” blue in colour (Azay, Quatro). Popular varieties are ‘Azay’, ‘Bighorn’, ‘MX-86’.


Creeping Red Fescue (Festuca rubra)

This is a creeping rhizomatous fine fescue and useful in shady lawn seed mixtures for several years. A “common type”, grown in large amounts in Canada is sold in lower quality, less expensive seed mixes, sometimes called as ‘Boreal’ mixes. Popular varieties are ‘Auruba’, ‘Audubon’, ‘Dawson’, ‘Fenway’, ‘Florentine GT’, ‘Jasper-II’, ‘Shademaster-II’, ‘Silver Lawn’.


Slender Creeping Red Fescue (Festuca rubra subp. litoralis)

It is a rhizomatous fine textured grass, tolerant of lower mowing heights, and useful in golf course fairways. It is generally good to excellent salinity tolerant. This makes them attractive in salt affected areas. Being fine texture and compatible colour, they can be mixed with alkaligrass (Puccinellia distans).


2.7 Kentucky Blue Grass (Poa pratensis) (Holman and Donn, 2005)

Description: This is native to Europe, a perennial, cool-season, sod-forming grass. Seedhead stems are 45 to 60 cm tall, but can be lowered to 10 to 15 cm in height when used for intensive grazing. The seedheads are pyramid shaped and yield many small seeds. There are approximately 2,177,000 seeds per pound. Leaves are 15 cm to 30cm long and boat-shaped (keeled) at the tips. Leaves are glabrous and soft. The plant remains dormant during hot summer, but maintains its green colour in fall. Growth initiates early in the spring. Tiller buds grow into stems or rhizomes. New rhizomes also grow from nodes of older rhizomes.


2.8 Characteristics of a good Kentucky Blue Grass

·It is dense forming, uniform and creates cushioned playing surface, with attractive dark green colour.

·Being rhizomatous, it is a strong sod-former.

·It is tolerant to foot traffic.

·It is easily available as sod.

·It is an excellent heat and cold tolerant grass.

·It is an excellent drought resistant grass.

·Its succulent leaves allow it to be mowed without unsightly shredding as observed in other turf species.



·For mountain regions: Abbey, Able 1, Adelphi, America, Apex, Aspen, Banff, Baron, Blacksburg, Crest, Eclipse, Freedom, Kelley, Liberty, Limousine, Livingston, Merit, Midnight, Nustar, Nublue, Parade, Princeton 104, Ram-I, SR2000, and Victa.

·For light to moderately shady lawns: A-34, Alpine, Apex, America, Blacksburg, Bristol, Classic, Freedom, Georgetown, Glade, Limousine, Mystic, Nugget, and Ram-I.

·The lower maintenance varieties: Park, Kenblue, North Dakota Common.

·Forage types: Park, Troy, Ginger.

·Tolerant to closer mowing: Adelphi, Bristol, Ram I and Touchdown.

·Compact Midnight type (Resistant to necrotic spot): Arcadia, Rugby II, Award, Impact, Midnight, Total Eclipse, Liberator, Quantum Leap, Odyssey, Absolute, NuGlade, Alexa, Midnight II, Ginney, Rambo, Courtyard, Tsunami, Awesome, Freedom II, Beyond, Perfection, Chicago II, Excursion, Barrister.

·Compact America type (Resistant to summer patch, leaf spot and powdery mildew): Showcase, Apollo, SR 2284, Brilliant, SRX 2394, Langara, America, Unique, Boutique, Bluemax, Bedazzle, Avalanche, Glenmont, Arrow, Blue Ridge, Royale, Goldstar, Mallard.

·Aggressive type (Very wear tolerant): SRX 26351, P-104, Northstar, A-34, Mystic, Limousine.

·Bellevue type (Resistant to leaf spot and stripe smut): Parade, Freedom, Bellevue, Dawn, Suffolk, Trenton, Georgetown, Banff, Classic, Haga.

·Mid Atlantic type: SR 2000, Livingston, Monopoly, Bel-21, Preakness, Plush, Eagleton, Wabash.

·CELA type: Challenger, Adelphi, Eclipse, Jefferson, Liberty.

·BVMG type: Baron, Nassau, Victa, Raven, Merit, Marquis, Gnome, BlueChip, Dragon, Fortuna, Abbey, Goldrush, BlueStar, Envicta, Baronette, Clearwater, Crest, Cannon.

·Shamrock type: SR 2100, Shamrock, Champagne, Parkland, Atlantis.

·Cherry type: SRX QG245, Cheri, Sydsport, Cobalt, Serene.

·Julia type: Julia, Caliber, Ikone, SR 27832.

·Common types: Kenblue, Huntsville, Geary, Newport, S-21, Park, Piedmont, Alene, Greenley, Ginger, Garfield, South Dakota Cert.

·Drought tolerance varieties: Skye, Prosperity, Millagro, Armadillo, Mongoose.


Importance and uses: Bluegrass can give a dense green sod especially adapted for parks and home lawns. Kentucky bluegrass is an excellent erosion control plant due to its dense, robust turf forming habit. It can be effective as a mix with legumes or other grasses for erosion control in conservation cover, waterways, field borders, heavy use areas, steep banks and pond edges. It can also be used alone or in seed mixtures as permanent cover for tree plantings and orchards. The species is highly palatable and relished by horses, cattle, and sheep.


2.9 Perennial rye grass (Lolium perenne) (Balasko et al.,1995

Description: It is originated from Europe, Asia and Northern Africa. The plant is a low-growing, tufted, glabrous grass, having a tillering growth habit. The leaves are dark green, glabrous and glossy on the lower surface, with serrated parallel sides and prominent parallel veins on the upper surface. The leaves are flattened, folded lengthwise in bud with a strong central keel. The short ligule is truncate, and small white auricles grip the stem at the base of the leaf blade. Leaf sheaths at the base are usually tinged pink in colour and glabrous. Stems are 90 cm tall and auriculate. The inflorescence is branchless with spikelets borne on alternating sides edgeways-on to the stem. Each awnless spikelet bears only a single glume, on the side away from the stem, and between 4 and 14 florets. The plant blooms from May to November. Perennial ryegrass has a fibrous root system, having thick main roots and thinner lateral branches. Roots are generally arbuscular mycorrhizal.


Varieties: ‘Accent’, ‘Achiever’, ‘Affirmed’, Alliance’, ‘All Star-II’, Amazing’, ‘Applaud’, ‘ASP 400’, ‘Bright Star-II’, ‘Caypso-II’, ‘Catalina’, ‘Cathedral-II’, Celebration’, ‘Champion GQ’, ‘Chirismatic’, ‘Churchill’, ‘Citation-III’, ‘Cutter’, ‘Dandy’, ‘Dimension’, ‘Divine’, ‘Elf’, ‘Elfkin’, ‘Elite’, Exacta’, ‘Fiesta-III’, ‘Hardstart’, ‘Jet’, ‘Kokomo’, ‘Laredo’, ‘Majesty’, ‘Manhattan-4’, ‘Mardi grass’, ‘Medalist Gold’, ‘Night Hawk’, ‘Pinnacle’, ‘Pizzazz’, ‘Pleasure’, ‘Precision’, ‘Prelude-III’, ‘Prizm’, ‘Promise’, ‘Protocol’, ‘Stallion Supreme’, ‘Stellar’, ‘Sunshine’, ‘Top Hat’, ‘Vivid’, ‘Wizard’.


Importance and uses: It is an excellent grass for lawns, sod production, and athletic fields. It is used extensively everywhere for golf courses except on greens. It easily mixes up with grass seeds. Perennial ryegrass is a extensively used for valuable forages and soil stabilization. Usually, the tetraploid varieties are useful in forages and diploid varieties are ideal for turfgrass and conservation plantings (Peterson, 2002).


2.10 Rough Blue Grass (Poa trivialis) (Edminster, 1992)

Description: It is originated from Europe, Asia and Northern Africa. The plant is a low-growing, tufted, glabrous grass, having a tillering growth habit. The leaves are dark green, glabrous and glossy on the lower surface, with serrated parallel sides and prominent parallel veins on the upper surface. The leaves are flattened, folded lengthwise in bud with a strong central keel. The short ligule is truncate, and small white auricles grip the stem at the base of the leaf blade. Leaf sheaths at the base are usually tinged pink in colour and glabrous. Stems are 90 cm tall and auriculate. The inflorescence is branchless with spikelets borne on alternating sides edgeways-on to the stem. Each awnless spikelet bears only a single glume, on the side away from the stem, and between 4 and 14 florets. The plant blooms from May to November. Perennial ryegrass has a fibrous root system, having thick main roots and thinner lateral branches. Roots are generally arbuscular mycorrhizal.


Varieties: ‘Accent’, ‘Achiever’, ‘Affirmed’, Alliance’, ‘All Star-II’, Amazing’, ‘Applaud’, ‘ASP 400’, ‘Bright Star-II’, ‘Caypso-II’, ‘Catalina’, ‘Cathedral-II’, Celebration’, ‘Champion GQ’, ‘Chirismatic’, ‘Churchill’, ‘Citation-III’, ‘Cutter’, ‘Dandy’, ‘Dimension’, ‘Divine’, ‘Elf’, ‘Elfkin’, ‘Elite’, Exacta’, ‘Fiesta-III’, ‘Hardstart’, ‘Jet’, ‘Kokomo’, ‘Laredo’, ‘Majesty’, ‘Manhattan-4’, ‘Mardi grass’, ‘Medalist Gold’, ‘Night Hawk’, ‘Pinnacle’, ‘Pizzazz’, ‘Pleasure’, ‘Precision’, ‘Prelude-III’, ‘Prizm’, ‘Promise’, ‘Protocol’, ‘Stallion Supreme’, ‘Stellar’, ‘Sunshine’, ‘Top Hat’, ‘Vivid’, ‘Wizard’.


Importance and uses: It is an excellent grass for lawns, sod production, and athletic fields. It is used extensively everywhere for golf courses except on greens. It easily mixes up with grass seeds (Ward et al., 1974). Perennial ryegrass is a extensively used for valuable forages and soil stabilization. Usually, the tetraploid varieties are useful in forages and diploid varieties are ideal for turfgrass and conservation plantings.


2.11 Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea)

Description: Tall fescue is a coarse textured, deep rooted robust, rhizomatous grass and it develops most new leaves and tillers from the crown. It has very weak sod-forming characteristics and a bunch-type growth habit. Leaf blades are flat and rigid. The stems are 90-120cm tall, supporting a nodding panicle of 10-30cm long.


Varieties: ‘Max Q’, ‘Texoma Max Q’, ‘Kentucky-31’, ‘Alta’, ‘Goar’, ‘Kenmont’, ‘Fawn’, ‘Kenwell’, ‘Kenhy’, ‘Missouri-96’, ‘Mozark’, ‘Martin’.


Importance and uses: Fescues are used for forages as well as for waterways, pond dams, farm lanes, and lawns. Tall fescue can be used in combination with warm-season forage crops such as native grasses, bermudagrass, or summer annuals to provide summer forages.


2.12 Velvet bentgrass (Agrotis canina) (Brilman, 2003)

Description: It is a fine textured turfgrass from Europe with higher shoot density. Velvet bent grass is lighter in colour than colonial and creeping varieties. Velvet bentgrass is characterized by rolled vernation, a broad collar, and a pointed membranous ligule. The legendary characteristics of this grass is top ranked for turf quality, low maintenance , winter colour, brown patch and vibrant, medium green colour; shade and drought tolerant (Boesch and Mitkowski, 2007).


Varieties: ‘Greenwich’, ‘Legendary’, ‘SR 7200’, ‘Venus’, ‘Vesper’, ‘Villa’.


Importance and uses: It is a potential turf grass for lawns and golf greens. The fine textured leaf blade and high shoot density permit velvet bentgrass to develop a smoother and more consistent playing surface than creeping bentgrass.


2.13 Wheatgrass (Agropyron spp) (Asay and Jensen, 1996; Asay et al., 1997)


Thick spike wheatgrass: This native rhizomatous grass has excellent drought and cold tolerance. Under favourable climate, it grows to a height of 30cm. Because of their growth habit, they form an excellent ground cover, making them superior species for slopes and highly exposed sites.


Varieties: ‘Critana’, ‘Bannock’


Stream bank wheatgrass: It is one of the most drought-tolerant and widely adapted grasses. Stream bank wheatgrass also is considered as a native and a good sod former, like thick spike wheatgrass for ease of establishment.


Varieties: ‘Sodar’.


Western wheatgrass: This native grass does not form dense sod and takes a bit longer time to establish than thick spike or stream bank wheatgrass. Western wheatgrass is bluish-green in colour contrasting the typical light green of the other wheatgrasses.


Varieties: ‘Rosana’, ‘Ariba’, ‘Rodan’, ‘Barton’.


Slender Wheatgrass: This is a cool-season, short-lived bunchgrass and is well adapted to medium-light textured soils. It is very easily established and provides quick cover when included in mixtures other longer-lived native species.


Varieties: ‘Pryor’, ‘Revenue’, ‘San Luis’.


Bluebunch Wheatgrass: This is a cool-season, long-lived bunchgrass and  is well adapted to a wide range of soils and is highly drought tolerant.


Varieties: ‘Secar’


Importance and uses: Wheatgrasses are generally used as a forage and pasture grass grown for hay and to give an alternative lawn. Having a rhizomatic nature, Western wheatgrass develops good ground cover for erosion. Thick spike wheat grass gives excellent erosion control and performs very well in waterways. Slender wheatgrass is palatable and nutritious, and useful as good winter forage as well. Being low growing habit, Streambank wheatgrass provides low-maintenance ground cover, best for use on small-plane grass landing fields at airports as well as ground cover for erosion control. The forage is palatable in case of Blue bunch wheatgrass.


3 Warm season grasses

3.1 Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum)

Description: Bahia grass is originated from Mexico and South America. This grass is rhizomatous, low-growing and creeping with stolons. The stolons are attached firmly to the ground and root freely from the internodes, forming a dense sod. The leaves are flat, tough-textured, glabrous, with wide blades. The stems are 20–75 cm tall. The inflorescences are V-shaped consisting of two spike-like racemes containing multiple tiny spikelets.



Diploid cultivars: ‘Pensacola’, ‘Tifton 9’, ‘TifQuik’, and ‘UF-Riata’.


Tetraploid varieties: ‘Paraguay’, ‘Argentine’, and ‘Common’.


Importance and uses: It is primarily used for pasture and hay production for livestock management. Other uses are wildlife habitat, erosion control, phytoremediation of phosphorus impacted soils, and integrated pest management of nematodes and fungal diseases when used in rotation with annual crops. Bahiagrass is drought resistant turf. It does well in lawns and along highways.


3.2 Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) (Fishel and Coats, 1994; Samples and Sorochan, 2007)

Description: It is a native of Africa. Dub grass is a highly sod forming perennial that spreads by stolons, rhizomes and seed. Stolons readily develop at the nodes. Lateral buds arise at the nodes to give out erect or ascending stems, 5 to 40 cm in height. In most Cynodon sp., leaves are arranged on stems with long internodes alternating with one or more very short internodes and form multiple-leaved nodes. Leaf sheaths are round, loose, split, smooth, sparsely hairy, and up to 15 cm long. Auricles are absent. Collar is continuous, narrow, glabrous and hairy on margins. Leaf blades are smooth to sparsely pubescent, folded or loosely rolled in the bud and sharply-pointed. The inflorescence bear 3 to 7 spikes in a single whorl in a finger like arrangement. In robust forms, there may be up to 10 spikes, sometimes in two whorls. Spikelets are in arranged in 2 rows tightly appressed to one side of the rachis; lemma is boot-shaped, acute with fringe of hairs on the keel and longer than the glume; seed is oval, straw to red-colored and free within the lemma and palea. This grass has a fibrous, perennial root system with vigorous, deep rhizomes. Roots are arose at the nodes after new leaves or tillers are produced during the growing season and after new shoots are produced in the spring. Mature roots are yellow to brown while new roots are white in colour.



Seeded varieties: ‘Jackpot’, ‘U-3’, ‘Aanta Anna’, ‘Ormund’, ‘Uma’, ‘Princess-77’, ‘Sahara’, ‘Savannah’, ‘Sultan’, ‘Sundance’, ‘Sydney’, ‘Triangle Blend’, ‘Yukon’, ‘La Prima’, ‘Riviera’, ‘Common’, ‘Giant’ and ‘Transcontinental’.


Hybrids: Hybrid Bermuda grasses are the progeny of interspecific crosses of Cynodon dactylon and Cynodon transvaalensis. These hybrids are seed sterile and should be propagated by sprigs, stolons, or sodding. Popular hybrids are ‘Sunturf’, ‘Celebration’, ‘GN-1’, ‘Tifway’, ‘Tifway-II’, ‘Tifgreen’, ‘Tifdwarf’, ‘Tifsport’, ‘Tiflawn’, ‘Pee Dee’, ‘Tifton 44’, ‘Tifton 68’, ‘Tifton 85’, ‘Tifton 78’, ‘Coastal’.


Ultra-dwarf hybrids: ‘Floradwarf’, ‘Miniverde’, ‘TifEagle’.


Importance and uses: This grass has numerous turf uses. It is used to prevent soil erosion, to stabilize ditch banks, roadsides and airfields, to beautify landscapes and to provide a smooth, resilient playing surface for sports fields and playgrounds. Bermuda grass also produces hay and pasture for livestock throughout the tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Turf uses of common Dub grass include sports fields, lawns, parks, playgrounds, golf course fairways, roadsides, cemeteries, and other general purpose turf. Hybrid bermuda grass and selections of common bermudagrass are utilized for special purposes such as sports fields, golf greens, bowling greens, tennis courts, and lawns. A dense bermuda grass turf can tolerate moderate wear and compaction and recover quickly from wear injury.


Bermudagrass is a main turf species for sports fields, lawns, parks, golf courses, and general utility turfs in Australia, Africa, India, South America and the Southern region of the United States. It is available in over 100 counties throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. This species gives a vigorous, low-growing turfgrass stand with high density and tolerances to both traffic and drought stress. Hybrid bermuda grasses provide improved levels of quality, density, and colour, as well as improved tolerances to the stresses of traffic, heat, and drought.


3.3 Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis)

Description: Blue grama is a tropical, rhizomatous, perennial, native grass distributed throughout the Great Plains of the U.S. It is 15-30 cm tall having flat leaves that come to a point at the end. The leaves are 2.5 to 25 cm long and 3 mm wide. The inflorescences are 17-46 cm tall. The flowers resemble crescent moons perched on the end of the flower stem. A flower consists of 20 to 90 little spikelets.


Varieties: ‘Lovington’, ‘Hachita’, ‘Alma’


Importance and uses: It grows well in sandy soils. Like buffalograss, blue grama grasses are excellent drought and cold tolerant. Although common at lower elevations, blue grama can be grown up to at elevations approaching 7000 feet. It is usually planted for naturalizing far roughs of golf courses. Blue grama, forms a very attractive unmowed turf. Blue grama grasses are s good drought, fair salinity, and moderate alkalinity tolerant. Blue grama is observed growing in association with buffalograss, western wheatgrass, needlegrasses and in some areas the bluegrasses. Blue grama recoups well on stem, making it a good grass for grazing during the dormant season.


3.4 Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides) (Beard and Kim, 1989)

Description: It is a perennial grass originated from Montana to Mexico. Buffalograss is a low growing tropical grass and 20 to 25cm tall. Individual leaf blades are 25cm to 30cm in length, but they fall over and make the turf a short appearance. Buffalograss is stoloniferous, arranged with curly leaves, and both staminate and pistillate flowers. Staminate plants bear 2 to 3 flag-like, one-sided spikes on a seedstalk, 10cm to 15cm high. Spikelets, usually 10, are 4 mm long in two rows on one side of the rachis. Pistillate spikelets are borne in a short spike or head and included in the inflated sheaths of the upper leaves. The thickened rachis is woody and surrounded by the outer glumes. Both male and female plants have stolons, several inches to several feet in length, internodes 5cm to 7.5cm long, and nodes with tufts of short leaves. Plants produce root at the node and produce new shoots.



Seeded varieties: Bison, Bowie, Cody, Plains, Topgun, Sharps Improved, Tatanka, Texoka.


Vegetative varieties: Prairie, 609, Legacy, Prestige, Turffalo, Midget, Mobuff, Stampede,’315,’378’, Bonniebrae, Density.


Importance and uses: Buffalograss is primarily used for range grazing and is important component of the shortgrass and mixed grass prairies. Buffalograss is utilized by all classes of livestock. It is considered good quality forage, and nutritional qualities do not decline significantly during curing. Buffalograss is gaining popularity for use in low traffic areas and a possible substitute for exotic warm season grasses such as bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon), St. Augustine (Stenotaphrum secundatum), and zoysia (Zoysia japonica) Buffalograss forms a dense sod that impedes soil erosion. Buffalo grass is ideal for roadsides, school grounds, parks, open lawn areas, golf course roughs and cemeteries. 


3.5 Carpet grass (Axonopus affinis)

Description: Carpetgrass is originated from Central America and the West Indies. The compressed creeping stems root at each joint. Narrowleaf carpetgrass is a warm-season, perennial, stoloniferous, short, spreading grass. Leaves are 5-20 cm long and 2-6 mm in breadth. Plants are 25-75 cm tall, forming a dense mat over the ground surface. The floret is fertile, white to pale-yellow. Broadleaf carpetgrass is a short, perennial, stoloniferous, dense, mat-like, spreading grass. It attains a maximum height of about 20-50 cm. Leaves are 4-15 cm long and 4-10 mm in breadth and are broadly linear or lanceolate. There are usually two to four slender, dense spikes. Broadleaf carpetgrass is similar to narrowleaf carpetgrass in most of its botanical characteristics but is more robust and is arranged with more stolons.


Importance and uses: Carpet grass is best adapted to Subtropical/Tropical regions and thrives in poor soils, good for parks, roadsides, and Golf Course roughs. Carpet grass is poor wear and cold weather tolerant and fairly shade tolerant.


3.6 Centipede grass (Eremochloa ophiuroides)

Description: It is native to Southern China and commonly known as ‘Chinese Lawn Grass’. This is a stoloniferous creeping perennial with compressed sheaths. Leaves are approximately 1.5 to 3.0 cm in length, 2 to 4 mm in breadth, and having a distinctly flat white midvein. Leaves are smooth except in the collar regions. Leaves are auricleless, and bears a short membranous hairy ligule. The inflorescence is a single spikelike raceme, 37.5cm to 12.5 cm long. The racemes are flattened, purplish in colour, having spikelets arranged in two rows.


Varieties: ‘Oklawn’, ‘AU Centennial’, ‘Common’, ‘Hammock’, ‘Tifblair’, ‘Raleigh’, ‘Tennessee Hardy’, ‘Covington’, ‘Santee’.


Importance and uses: It is a medium textured, slow growing, aggressive grass and produces a dense, attractive and weed-free turf. Centipede grass is more shade tolerant than bermudagrass but less shade tolerant than St. Augustine and zoysiagrass. Due to surface runner habit, it can easily be controlled around borders of flower beds and walks. This is the best grass with little care and management under full sunshine or partial shade. It typically requires little fertilizer or lime and less mowing than other turfgrasses do.


3.7 Kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum)

Description: It is native to East Africa. Kikuyu is a rhizomatous perennial, 30 to 70 cm tall, having the much-branched stolons and forming a turf with regular defoliation. Shoots are sterile, equipped with short stems and long leaves. Fertile shoots are low-growing than sterile shoots having shorter leaves. Leaf sheathes are pale yellow-green, usually with fairly dense, fine tubercular-based hairs, sometimes smooth and hairy ligule. Leaf blade is linear, 30 cm in length and 7 mm in breadth, tightly folded at young stage, but becomes flat when mature,smooth with sparse to dense tubercular-based hairs and finely serrated margins. Inflorescence is modified to a cluster of 2-4 very shortly stalked spikelets, almost enclosed in the uppermost leaf sheath. Spikelets are 10-20 mm long, narrow, bearing 2 florets, the lower one sterile, the upper one bisexual or functionally male or female. Caryopses are ovoid, dark brown, about 2.5 mm long and 1.5 mm wide, pointed with persistent short style.


Varieties: ‘Kabete’, ‘Whittet’, ‘Breakwell’, ‘Hosaka’ (Hosaka, 1958).


Importance and uses: This lawn grass is very common in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Southern California, America because it is cheap and drought resistant. In addition, it can be useful in a pasture for heavy grazing of livestock and serves as a food source for many birds. Kikuyu is used for very high traffic and usage areas in the community due to its fast repair capabilities.


3.8 Salt grass (Distichlis spicata)

Description: Salt grass is native to America. Saltgrass is a rhizomatous and stoloniferous perennial, 35cm to 90cm tall. It is a dioecious species bearing male and female reproductive parts on separate plants. The inflorescence is yellowish in colour, turning straw brown as it dries.


Varieties: ‘LK517f saltgrass’


Importance and uses: Under favourable soil and moisture conditions, saltgrass is ideal for pastures irrigated with saline water. It can produce total dry matter of 9081 kg/ha having total protein production of 1300 kg/ha. Saltgrass is nicely relished by both cattle and horses and it has a good forage because it remains green in drought periods. It is most commonly used as livestock feed in lean period.


Saltgrass is a foodplant for the larva of Wandering Skipper (Panoquina panoquinoides errans) butterfly. Besides, it is also an important food in the diet of Endangered and Threatened species like waterfowl and the Florida salt marsh vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus dukecampbelli). Salt grass is useful in the salt marshes, which provide nesting grounds for birds, fish and larvae of many marine invertebrate animals.


3.9 St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) (Trenholm et al., 2006)

Description: It is called as ‘Charlestongrass’, a coarse-textured, warm-season turfgrass that is suited to warm and humid regions. This turfgrass is a native of the coastal regions of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean. St. Augustine grass is a stoloniferous species that develops roots at the nodes. It does not have rhizomes. Stems and overlapping leaf sheaths are generally compressed. Leaf blades generally folded, abruptly contracted at the base, rounded at the tip, and glabrous; ligule is modified to a short fringe of hairs; collar petiolate and the sheaths are greatly compressed and ciliate along the margins. Inflorescence is borne as mostly terminal, some also axillary, spike like racemes and spikelets imbedded in main axis. Each raceme is arranged with 1-3 lanceolate or ovate, awnless and sessile spikelets. Fruits are caryopsis ovate to oblong, often failing to mature.



Standard cultivars: ‘Bitterblue’, ‘Classic’, ‘Deltashade’, Floratam’, ‘Palmetto’, ‘Raleigh’.


Dwarf cultivars: ‘Captiva’, ‘Delmar’, Sapphire’, ‘Seville’.


Importance and uses: As compared to other warm-season turfgrasses, St. Augustinegrass is highly shade tolerant and can yield a high-quality turfgrass in shady areas. St. Augustinegrass is more salt tolerant, and is ideal for the coastal areas. St. Augustinegrass establishes rapidly and easily and can be multiplied through sod, sprigs, or plugs. It is commonly useful in a wide range of soils in home lawns and other landscaped areas. St. Augustinegrass is excellent for areas having less care and little maintenance.


3.10 Zoysia grass (Zoysia spp.)

Description: Zoysiagrasses (Zoysia spp.) are introductions into the United States from Asia and are attractive turf forming. There are number of species and cultivars of zoysiagrasses used for home lawns, including Japanese or Korean Lawngrass, Meyer zoysiagrass, Matrella zoysiagrass or Manilagrass, Mascarenegrass, Emerald zoysiagrass, Belaire zoysiagrass, El Toro zoysiagrass, and Cashmere zoysiagrass. These species and cultivars differ greatly in their appearance, colour, growth habit and texture (Unruh et al., 2006;Samples and Sorochan, 2007).


Japanese or Korean Lawngrass (Zoysia japonica): This species of zoysiagrass is very coarse textured like tall fescue, hairy, a light green colour, a relatively faster grower than other zoysiagrass species, and excellent cold tolerant. However, this species of zoysiagrass is not good for a lawn. This Japanese Lawngrass is the only species of zoysiagrass that can be propagated from seeds but it is likely to be damaged by the hunting billbug and nematodes. Meyer Zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica ‘Meyer’): Meyer zoysiagrass is popular under the name Z-52 and is sometimes called as either Z-52 or Amazoy. Meyer is an improved selection of Zoysia japonica and was developed in 1951. It is dark green colour, medium leaf textured, and is the most cold tolerant of the zoysiagrasses; however, it is less shade tolerant than Emerald zoysiagrass. The leaves are intermediate in breadth between that of Korean Lawngrass and Emerald zoysiagrass.


Matrella Zoysiagrass or Manilagrass (Zoysia matrella): Manilagrass resembles bermudagrass in colour, texture, and quality and is ideal for a high-quality, high-maintenance lawn. This species of zoysiagrass is an introduction from China and provides a finer and denser lawn than Zoysia japonica cultivars, but it has less cold tolerance. Zoysia matrella is very much vulnerable to damage caused by nematodes. A selection of Zoysia matrella, tested as FC 13521, was released by the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station at Auburn University and is now commonly called as Matrella zoysiagrass. Matrella is a finer leaf textured and is more shade tolerant than Meyer zoysiagrass but is less shade tolerant than Emerald zoysiagrass.


Mascarenegrass (Zoysia tenuifolia): This species of zoysiagrass is the finest-textured zoysiagrass having  fair wear tolerance but can develop huge thatch, making it a “puffy” appearance. It also is the least cold-tolerant among zoysia grasses.


Emerald Zoysiagrass: Emerald zoysiagrass is a hybrid between Zoysia japonica and Zoysia tenuifolia and was developed in 1955. This hybrid zoysiagrass has the characteristics of cold tolerance, colour, and faster growth rate of one parent with the fine texture and density of the other parent. Emerald zoysiagrass resembles Zoysia matrella in colour, density, and texture but grows faster and has a wider adaptation. It is very fine leaf textured, good cold tolerant, good shade tolerant, good wear resistant, and dark green colour, but it lacks the cold tolerance of Meyer zoysiagrass. This zoysiagrass is excellent for high-quality lawns with an adequate maintenance program. Emerald is susceptible to thatch accumulation and “puffiness” and is vulnerable to brown patch, dollar spot, and leaf spot diseases.


Belaire Zoysiagrass: Belaire is an improved selection of Zoysia japonica developed in Maryland and released by the USDA in 1985. It is excellent cold tolerant and medium green colour. Belaire has an open growth habit, having a coarser leaf texture and faster growth rate than Meyer zoysiagrass. This cultivar is highly vulnerable to brown patch disease.


El Toro Zoysiagrass: El Toro zoysiagrass is an improved selection of Zoysia japonica released in 1986 from California. It resembles Meyer zoysiagrass in appearance but has a faster growth rate, improved colour in cooler temperatures, and less thatch accumulation. El Toro also has early spring greenup like Meyer zoysiagrass and is reported to have improved resistance to the rust diseases.


Cashmere Zoysiagrass: A Pursley Turf in Florida released as Cashmere zoysiagrass in 1988. This cultivar of zoysiagrass resembles Emerald zoysiagrass in colour, density, and leaf texture, but it does not exhibit the stiff, bristlelike feel of Emerald.


Seeded varieties of Z. japonica: ‘Zenith’, ‘Compadre’.


Vegetatively propagated selections.


Z. japonica selections: ‘El Toro’, ‘Meyer’, ‘Palisades’.


Z. matrella selections: ‘Cavalier’, ‘Diamond’, ‘Zeon’, ‘Zorro’.


Interspecific hybrids: ‘Emerald’, ‘Z-3’.


Other improved varieties: ‘De Anza’, ‘Empire Zoyia’, ‘JaMur’, ‘Toccoa Green’, ‘BA-189’. 


Importance and uses: A number of species and varieties of zoysiagrass are utilized for residential and commercial landscapes, athletic fields, and golf course tees, fairways, and roughs. These turfgrasses are good tolerant to cold temperature, shade, and salt spray. Once established, zoysiagrasses give extremely dense, slow-growing sod that can reduce weed growth and population. Because of slow growth, they require less-frequent mowing than other turfgrasses.


4 Conclusions

In cool season, a grass mixture of fine-leaved bents and fescues is used, e.g., Agrotis tenuis is mixed with Festuca rubra. Cultivars of common Bermuda grass and zoysia grasses make the highest quality lawns in warm season. In addition, it is a best idea one has to consider climate while selecting the grass in lawn as there are different species and varieties for different climates. In wet climate, it is good to select a grass that can withstand these hardy onslaughts and wood meadow grass mixed alongside rough-stalked meadow grass for the best appearance as well as the for best covering. Utility lawns are developed for playing area of children or a space for outdoor entertainment. In cool areas grasses like Agrostis tenuis and Festuca rubra var. rubra and Paspalum notatum (Bahia grass), Axonopus (carpet grass), Cynodon dactylon are used in warm region. Sports lawns comprise of a mixture of bents and fescues just like high quality lawns. But for playing games like tennis for instance, it is again one should have an idea to incorporate perennial ryegrass into the mix to provide that element of protection. Further, Bermuda grasses are a best place to start and provide a hard-wearing, attractive surface.



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