Landscaping in America

Cool season grasses for homeowners living in northern America

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Cool Season Grass Map

Cool Season Grasses

On average, these climates have cold winters and warm/hot summers. Usually they also have regular intervals of rain throughout the summer months, but grasses will tolerate some extended periods of draught by going dormant.

Durable cool-season grasses include the most popular - Kentucky bluegrass, perennial rye, tall and fine fescues. New blends of the turf-type tall fescues are also becoming more widespread.

Identifying cool season grasses:


Look at the grass' texture to tell it from other types. Coarse tall fescue's big blades and bunches look rougher than bluegrass's and rye's narrow, fine leaves. If your grass has thin, needlelike leaves it is probably a fine fescue.


Kentucky bluegrass is true green like fine fescue but turns brown easily during hot weather. Look for new cultivars of tall fescues noted for their reliable dark green even in summer, and perennial ryes that sprout bright green, then darken. See an old lawn with dead patches? Think bent grass, now popular only on golf courses because of its high maintenance requirements.

Growth habits

Rye and tall fescue sprout and take over quickly compared with bluegrass and fine fescue. Most fescues are are likely to bunch up, however, new varieties of fescue are less likely to do this.

Tall fescue needs little additional irrigation and stands up to regular use as on a playground. Bluegrass needs regular irrigation to survive.

Typical Cool Season Grasses

Kentucky Blue Grass

Turf Type Tall Fescues

Fine Fescues

Rye Grass