What Are Cool Season Grasses?

Cool season grasses can actually be cool for reasons you might not expect. It is the fact that these types of grasses grow during our colder months that makes them so appealing to so many people. If you are looking to start growing your own, we will discuss in this post some cool season grasses you should consider.

What are cool season grasses?

Cool season grasses are plants that grow during our cooler months. They can be found in just about any climate, but they tend to prefer ones with lower temperatures and higher elevations. What makes these types of grass so appealing is the fact that they thrive in cold weather conditions, while other types of vegetation do not fare well when exposed to freezing temperatures or snowfall for long periods of time.

They usually have a greater tolerance for soils that are cool and compacted and prefer less sunlight. Cool season grasses can also be referred to as shade grasses because they do not fare well in sunny conditions.

There are different grasses that are categorized as cool season grasses. They tend to grow during the cooler seasons of the year when temperatures are on average between fifty and seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit. This is sometimes also referred to as temperate or winter hardy grasses. They do not have a long growing season, but they can tolerate colder weather better than many other types of grass.

Cool season grasses typically go dormant during the hot summer months and then start growing again when it becomes cooler in the fall. This is why they are also called transition grasses.

Categories of cool season grasses

There are two main categories for cool season grasses: annuals and perennials.

Annuals will only live one year, whereas perennials will come back each year on their own accord. What’s more, some varieties even produce seeds allowing them to self-propagate if left unchecked.

The best part about growing these plants from seed instead is that you get to choose which type of grass is going to grow in your yard.

Benefits of having cool season grass

There are many benefits to choosing cool season grasses. Some of them include:

  • They are better able to tolerate cold weather than warm-season grasses.
  • They have a longer growing season, which means they can stay green for a longer period of time.
  • Cool season grasses typically require less water than warm-season grasses.
  • They usually need less fertilizer than warm-season grasses.
  • Cool season grasses can be used in many applications because they are able to survive in harsh climates.
  • They can also withstand different weather conditions such as drought and extreme cold. These features make them ideal for lawns and fields that are exposed to the outdoors all year round.


What kind of cool season grasses should I consider?


Kentucky Bluegrass

It has a beautiful blue-green color and good wear tolerance. Kentucky Bluegrass grows well in cold climates, but it does not thrive when exposed to extreme heat.

It is a fine-bladed grass with a dense, lush look to it. It’s oftentimes used on athletic fields and golf courses because of its ability to stand up to foot traffic. This variety prefers cooler temperatures and moist soil, so in drier climates, it may need to be watered more often than other cool season grasses.

Tall Fescue

It is a dark green color and its leaves grow upright which makes it easy for mowing and trimming purposes. Another benefit that tall fescue provides is that even if there isn’t enough water, it will still remain green. Tall fescue is perfect for areas that are dry and have little rainfall.

It is a coarse grass that can grow in full sun or partial shade; however, its best-growing conditions are in fertile soil and full sunlight. Tall fescue is considered a workhorse of lawns because it has good disease resistance and can withstand extended periods of drought.

Turf Type Ryegrass

Ryegrass is easy to grow and spreads quickly. It has a deep green color that makes it an attractive addition to any yard.

What makes turf type ryegrass different from other cool season grasses is that its leaves grow horizontally, which gives the lawn a “spreading” look. It also has a deep root system that allows it to tolerate drought conditions better than most other types of cool season grasses. If you’re looking for a lush and full-looking lawn, then turf-type ryegrass may be the best option for you!

Fine Fescue

Fine fescue is one of the more popular types of cool season grasses because it can thrive in both cold and warm climates. What makes it unique is that its leaves are very thin, which helps it to stay green even during the hot summer months. If you’re looking for grass that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, then fine fescue may be the best option for you!


This type of grass has a light green color and grows in clumps. It’s often used on golf courses because it has good putting qualities. Bentgrass does not tolerate heat or drought conditions very well, so it’s not a good choice if you live in an area that experiences these types of weather conditions regularly.

Perennial Ryegrass

Another popular type of cool season grass is perennial ryegrass. This variety has a medium texture and grows quickly, making it ideal for over-seeding existing lawns or replacing bare patches. It also makes an excellent turfgrass when mixed with fescue or bluegrass. While this type of grass is fairly drought tolerant, frequent watering will lead to a thicker lawn.

It has a deep green color and grows well in both cold and warm climates. What makes it different from other types of ryegrass is that it’s a perennial, which means it comes back year after year. If you’re looking for grass that will last for many years, then perennial ryegrass may be the best option for you.

Cons of having cool season grasses

A major drawback of having cool season grasses is that they don’t do well in hot weather. These grasses go dormant in the summer, which means they stop growing and turn brown. This can be a major inconvenience if your lawn is located in a warm climate.

Additionally, cool season grasses don’t tolerate drought well. If you live in an area that experiences periodic droughts, you’ll need to make sure you have a water plan in place to keep your lawn healthy.

They can also go dormant or turn brown in the winter. This means you’ll need to take extra care of your lawn if you want it to look good in the winter.

How do I care for my cool season grass?

A well-maintained and healthy lawn is the foundation for an inviting home landscape, but different types of turfgrass require different care techniques to achieve a lush and green appearance.

Some of the ways you must care for your lawn will vary depending on the type of grass you have. What’s more, your turfgrass care plan should also be adjusted based on where in the country you live and what time of year it is. What works best for a cool season grass may not be ideal for warm-season grass or vice versa.


Most small areas can be watered manually with a sprinkler or hose, but larger turfgrass areas require an irrigation system in order to provide sufficient water coverage without wasting water due to evaporation and runoff.

If your area has cold winters that freeze over, install frost proof hydrants so you can access your supply lines even if they’re frozen underground; this makes winter watering easier. Also, consider using drip irrigation systems instead of spray heads because they allow for more efficient, targeted watering that reduces water consumption.


The right height for your grass is determined by the variety and climate, but you should never remove more than one-third of the total leaf area at once when mowing. Cutting off too much can cause stress to the turfgrass and open it up to attacks from pests and diseases.

What’s more, excessive clippings will require a greater frequency of bagging or raking them up as they decompose into excess thatch under your lawn. For best results, mow weekly during warm seasons with a well-sharpened blade on a clean mower; dull blades tear grass leaves instead of cutting cleanly through them, which promotes disease growth due to tearing open the grass stem.


Cool season grasses generally don’t need fertilizer as often as warm-season ones, but you should still fertilize them two to four times a year in the spring, summer, and fall. What type of fertilizer you use will also depend on your climate; consult with your local garden center for the best advice.

Generally speaking, avoid using high nitrogen fertilizers late in the season since they can promote growth that is susceptible to cold weather damage. If you are going to overseed an area, hold off on fertilizing until after the seeding process is complete so that you do not compete with new seedlings for nutrients.

Weed Control

Weeds tend to be a bigger problem for cool season grasses since they tend to germinate and grow faster in the spring and fall. For this reason, it’s important to begin weed control efforts early on and stay on top of them throughout the season.

Manual removal with a hoe or pulling by hand is one way to get started, but you may also need to use an herbicide, depending on the severity of your weed infestation. Always read and follow label instructions carefully when using any type of chemical pesticide.


If you live in an area where winter temperatures regularly drop below freezing, there are steps you can take to help protect your lawn from damage. One is to make sure that all irrigation systems are turned off before cold weather hits; this will help to prevent pipes from bursting.

You can also lay down a blanket of mulch over the grass to keep the ground insulated and protect it from windburn. In areas where snow is common, be sure to shovel regularly to avoid excessive weight build-up that can damage your lawn. Finally, if you are going to be gone for an extended period of time during winter, have someone come in and plow or shovel your driveway so that the snow doesn’t accumulate on your lawn for too long.


Cool season turf provides an effective, low-maintenance solution for homeowners who want the appearance of a well-manicured lawn. You will want to ensure that you know how to properly identify these grass types before adding them to your lawn.

Cool season grasses are ideal for home lawns and commercial properties where there is a high degree of traffic. The above list includes some of the most popular cool season grasses.