You only have to have to read some of the “Forum” websites for lawn mowing and gardening contractors to realize how ignorant many contractors are in regard to their knowledge of lawn and turf grasses. This ignorance only adds to the bad reputation these contractors have in the eyes of their customers and home owners.
This contractor ignorance is also compounded by the incorrect knowledge passed through these so called “professional knowledge forums”. Many of these contractors tell out and out untruths regarding characteristics and herbicide tolerances of the different grasses being discussed.
It is important to understand that turf grasses are classified in 2 broad categories. These categories being Cool Season and Warm Season turf grasses. The difference between these is as follows.
Cool Season grasses are those that propagate from seed (not runners) only, and generally only grow into a single stem plant (tufted). However, there is a new cool season grass with rhizomes called Rhizomatous Tall Fescue. This new grass is a fairly recent innovation.
Cool season turf grasses (common and scientific / botanical names) include:
Perennial Rye grass – Lolium perenne
Creeping bentgrass – Agrostis palustris
Tall fescue – Festuca arundinacea
Kentucky bluegrass – Poa pratensis
Warm Season grasses are those that propagate from both seed and runners, and exist with Stolons (above ground runners). However, there is also a large group of Warm Season grasses that exist with BOTH Stolons (above ground runners) and Rhizomes (below ground runners).
Warm season turf grasses (with common names and botanical names) with both Stolons and Rhizomes include:
Couch – Cynodon dactylon
Centipede grass – Eremochloa ophiuroides
Kikuyu – Pennisetum clandestinum
Zoysia – Zoysia japonica
Durban – Dactyloctenium australe
Seashore Paspalum – Paspalum vaginatum
Warm season turf grasses (with common names and botanical names) with Stolons only include:
Queensland Blue Couch – Digitaria didactyla – Stolons only
Buffalo (in North America this is also known as St Augustine) – Stenotaphrum secundatum – Stolons only
In the group of warm season grasses, there are many different varieties of each grass species. For example, in the Buffalo (St Augustine grasses) group, there are as many as 20-30 varieties world wide.
Turf grasses have different common names depending on which country you are from. Buffalo turf (including Sir Walter buffalo) is called Buffalo grass in Australia, however, the American common name equivalent is St. Augustine grass. Interestingly, there is another grass in North America called Buffalo grass which is not the same as Australia’s Buffalo grass.
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