Tennessee Smart Yards Native Plants

A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants

Warm-Season vs. Cool-Season Grasses

Warm-season grasses are plants that grow mostly from June through early September.  They are well adapted to hot, dry weather and will stay green in July and August.  They are dormant in the cooler weather of spring and fall.   Warm-season grasses may germinate over a period of several growing seasons and usually spend one to two years producing roots but modest top growth.  As a result, warm-season grasses require three or more years to produce dense stands, which also results in a more long-lasting and drought-tolerant grass.

Cool-season grasses grow best in the spring and fall when soil and air temperatures are cooler.  Cool-season species germinate well and produce vigorous seedlings that compete well with weeds.  They usually produce dense stands in only a year or two.  They are more likely to die back in periods of drought unless they get supplemental water and may turn brown during the heat of summer, resuming growth when cooler fall weather returns.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Conservation Practice Fact Sheet
January 2004

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