This post will render itself meaningless unless you understand why you should care about what kind of grass you have. Let’s take a quick look at the benefits of understanding what kind of grass you have, then delve into identification strategies. Shall we?
Why you should care:
We sometimes think of grass not as a plant, but just as, well, grass. And truth be told, you can live a fairly comfortable and problem-free life without knowing whether your lawn is Kentucky Bluegrass or Bermudagrass. But what if I told you could boost both your life expectancy and happiness by 10% just by knowing what kind of grass you have?
Okay, I can’t do that. I’m just a writer writing about grass, not a gosh dang wizard!
But there are some extremely practical (and less practical) reasons as to why you should know what kind of grass you have.
Less practical reasons as to why grass identification is cool: 1) You are sure to constantly impress, and absolutely never annoy – your family and friends with your grass identification abilities. Think how cool it would be at a backyard barbecue and steer the conversation to the very Kentucky Bluegrass you’re standing on! 2) Grass identification trips make amazing vacations. Can you imagine being able to see Bahiagrass, turf-type tall Fescue, Centipede, and Zoysia grass all on the same trip? (Just kidding: please don’t waste your vacation days t identify grass).
Practical reasons why grass identification is cool: 1) It’s important to know what kind of grass you have for the same reasons it’s good to know what kind of plants you have. Different grasses have different needs; grasses have wildly different needs when it comes to things like light, water, fertilizer, and pesticides. 2) On a similar note, knowing the needs of your grass will keep it looking healthy year-round.
Getting started on grass identification
By far the easiest and least romantic way of figuring out what kind of grass you have is to use a plant identification app (iNaturalist, PlantNet, and Leafsnap are a few). The only problem with these apps is that, well, many types of grass look alike, which could lead to a false identification. If you’re dead set on using an app, a pro tip is to grow out a small patch of grass. The longer the grass, the easier it is for the app to identify it.
If you’re going about this the old-fashioned way, the first step is to find out what growing region you’re in. In the US, growing regions are divided into three parts: cool, warm, and transition. These words are often enough to trigger what growing region you’re in, but if they’re not, take a look at this handy map.
Once you’ve determined which region you’re in, see if you can identify your grass using this handy guide. If you have a fairly distinguishable grass, like Fine Fescue, your job may be pretty easy.
If you’re stuck between a couple, click on the contenders and read about their specific characteristics. This should enable you to confidently identify your grass, but if it doesn’t, feel free to use other great grass identification resources like this one.
I’ve identified my grass. Now what?
What the heck do you mean, “Now what?” Now you’re equipped not just with the name of your grass, but also the grass’ preferred growing preferences! And now, perhaps most importantly, instead of saying “I’m going to mow the lawn,” you can say with total confidence “I’m going to mow the Kentucky Bluegrass.”