Turfgrass Species and Cultivars

Golf Course near Chesapeake Bay

Turfgrass Species and Cultivars

Information about species and cultivars suitable for Maryland is provided in: “TT-77: Turfgrass Cultivar Recommendations for Maryland”.

This and other Turfgrass Technical Updates can be found at:

www.mdturfcouncil.org or www.turf.umd.edu.

In general, tall fescue is the lawn grass best adapted for Maryland’s soils and climate. Kentucky bluegrass provides the most aesthetically pleasing lawn turf, but it requires a higher level of maintenance than tall fescue. Perennial ryegrass cultivars have been improved in recent years, but this species is not recommended for use on lawns due to its susceptibility to many diseases. Fine leaf fescues (e.g. Creeping Red, Chewings, Sheep and Hard fescue) perform well in acid soils and moderate shade, but don’t tolerate low mowing in summer. (See “TT-41: Establishing and Maintaining Fine Leaf Fescues for Low Maintenance Sites”)

Zoysiagrass is perhaps our best low maintenance grass for lawns, but it is slow and expensive to establish (see “TT-69: Planting and Care of a Zoysiagrass Lawn”).

Bermudagrass is best adapted to Southern and Eastern Shore Maryland and is susceptible to winter kill.

Zoysiagrass and Bermudagrass can be established from seed or vegetatively. Plant these grasses in May or June for best results. The best time of year to seed or overseed damaged areas of tall fescue and the other cool-season grasses is late August and September.

Spring seedings of cool season grasses are fraught with problems and should not be attempted on a large scale without knowledge of appropriate herbicides. Winter or dormant seeding is only recommended for Kentucky bluegrass. All other species of seeds will die over winter.



  • Tall fescue is the best all-purpose turf species for
  • September is the best time to plant tall fescue seed. Seed mixes that contain annual ryegrass or perennial ryegrass are not
  • Proper mowing, nitrogen fertility and weed control are the most important needs for healthy turf maintenance



mowing grass

Low and infrequent mowing are perhaps the major causes of lawn deterioration. When mowing, never remove more than one-third of the leaf surface at any one time. For example, if the desired mowing height is 2.0 inches, do not allow the turf to grow higher than 3.0 inches before mowing.

It is best to maintain the mowing heights shown below for spring and autumn year-round; however, height of cut can be reduced during autumn and winter. Mow as needed but avoid mowing too low.

The proper mowing heights for lawn grasses are as follows:

Lawn Grass

Spring/Summer/ Autumn


Kentucky Bluegrass

2.5 - 3.0 inches

2.0 inches

Perennial Ryegrass

2.5 - 3.0 inches

2.0 inches

Tall Fescue

2.5 - 3.5 inches

2.5 inches

Fine Leaf Fescue

3.0 - 4.0 inches

3.0 inches


.5 - 1.0 inches

.5 - 1.0 inches


.75 - 1.25 inches

.75 - 1.5 inches




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