UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County
University of California
UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County


Lawn grasses, cool- and warm-season

There is a difference between cool-season and warm-season grasses. Cool-season and warm-season grasses actively grow at different times of the year. This affects when you should plant, mow, irrigate, and fertilize your lawn.

Growing and planting season for cool- and warm-season grasses

Warm-season grasses
Warm-season grasses perform best in southern climates where summers are hot and dry or humid and winters are mild. During the winter, warm-season grasses may go dormant and lose their green color if the average air or soil temperature drops below 50 - 55 F. Some warm-season turfgrasses will die if exposed to extended periods of subfreezing temperatures.

Cool-season grasses
Cool-season grasses do best in northern and coastal climates where summers are mild and winters are cold. Cool-season grasses thrive during the fall and early spring. They remain green year-round unless temperatures consistently fall below freezing.

Grass species
Some warm-season grasses may tolerate colder climates better than others. Likewise, some cool-season grasses tolerate warmer temperatures better than others do. When planting, choose a variety that best suits your conditions.

Warm Season Grass Cool Season Grass
Bermudagrass Annual ryegrass
Buffalograss Colonial bentgrass
Kikuyugrass Creeping bentgrass
Seashore paspalum Hard fescue
St Augustinegrass Kentucky bluegrass
Zoysiagrass Perennial ryegrass
Red fescue
Rough bluegrass
Tall fescue

Learn how to choose and identify turf grass species.

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