Grasses That Can Be Planted And Grown In Fall & Winter | Our Top Picks

Everyone loves lawns. They are places where you can play tag, toss a ball, take a walk, rest or hold outdoor gatherings. Lawns can be created either with a single species of grass or a mixture of various species of grass. Lawn grasses are broadly divided into two groups: warm-season grasses and cool-season grasses.

Grasses That Can Be Planted And Grown In Fall & Winter  Our Top Picks
Creeping Bentgrass is the most widely used cool-season grass on golf course greens.

Photo by Matt Lavin

Warm-season grasses require warmer days and nights to survive; hence they are often planted in the fall and early winter months, while cool-season grasses are generally planted in the fall and early winter months since they grow best during the cold months.

A perfectly manicured green grass is the ultimate aim of any yard. However, some grasses may naturally turn brown during the winter and enter dormancy. There is, however, no cause for concern. Such a situation can be simply fixed by planting winter grass.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about winter lawns, grasses that are the most winter-hardy, and which you should use in your yard.

Winter Grasses | Things To Look For!

Winter Grasses Things To Look For
Bentgrass is ideal for places with high foot traffic and excessive winter frost.

Photo by pxhere

Before we discuss various types of grass that can be planted and do well in winter, let’s just quickly learn the critical facts about winter grass. Perhaps, the most challenging aspect of growing winter grass is determining the proper timing.

This seed needs to be sown when the nights are cool enough to prevent your warm-season grass from competing, but the days should be warm enough for the winter grass to flourish.

Also, if you sow too late, grass seeds won’t have enough time to establish themselves and will be killed by the winter frost. Finally, it is best to avoid overseeding a warm-season lawn with winter grass in certain circumstances.

For instance, regions with water constraints are not excellent places to plant winter grass because the grass will dry out too quickly.

Nevertheless, here are the two main factors you need to look for when planting winter grass to obtain the desired results and ensure healthy grass growth.

Location

There are numerous turfgrass species and subspecies available from which to choose. While some turfgrasses thrive in particular geographic regions, others can be sown over the entire region.

Take into account your geographic area while deciding on the specific winter grass species to make the right choice. Be aware that there are also regional variations in the environmental and soil conditions. 

Climate

When selecting species of grass, the climatic parameters of the area where the grass will grow must be taken into consideration. Bentgrasses, for instance, have a high endurance for ice and other types of physical stress; nevertheless, they are still susceptible to snow molds.

The fine fescues, on the other hand, have a lower resistance to suffocation, but they have a higher resistance to winter lawn diseases.

Best Grasses For Winter

The following are the best types of grasses that grow and do well in the winter. Many even serve a dual purpose: luring birds to your winter garden and giving them refuge and food.

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky Bluegrass
Kentucky bluegrass, a cool season grass, is a species native to Europe, Asia, Algeria, and Morocco.

Photo by Andrey Zharkikh

Kentucky bluegrass is often associated with the perfect lawn among American lawn owners. This grass creates a dense, rich, long-lasting lawn that lives up to its reputation when provided with its optimal growing circumstances and the necessary maintenance.

However, keep in mind that even though Kentucky Bluegrass has excellent cold tolerance, its heat tolerance is relatively low and only has a moderate drought tolerance. 

Common NameKentucky Bluegrass
Botanical NamePoa pratensis
Hardiness Zones3 to 9
Ideal Mowing Height2.5 to 3 inches
Mature Size18 to 24 inches
Native AreasUSA, Canada and Mexico
Plant TypeCool-Season Perennial
Shade ToleranceModerate
Soil pH6.5 and 7.2
Soil TypeWell-drained, moist, fertile

Tall Fescue

Tall Fescue
Tall fescue is a bunch-type grass, unlike other grasses that spread horizontally.

Photo by Matt Lavin

Tall fescue is prized for its capacity to flourish in various conditions and for tolerating cold, heat, drought, and shade well. It offers lawn owners outstanding possibilities for enhancing the resilience and endurance of their lawns in their preferred growing zones.

Tall fescue can be a fantastic choice based on where you live and your objectives for the yard. The leaves are broad grass blades with a dark green tint that persists even in winter.

Common NameTall fescue
Botanical NameFestuca arundinacea
Hardiness Zones4 to 7
Ideal Mowing Height2 to 3 inches
Mature Size4 to 12 inches
Native AreasEurope
Plant TypeCool-Season Perennial
Shade ToleranceExcellent
Soil pH5.5 and 7.5
Soil TypeDoes best in clay soils
Water Requirements1 inch of water every week

RELATED: Fescue Grass 101 | Types, Best Time To Plant, Benefits & Much More!

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial Ryegrass
Perennial Ryegrass is a cool-seasoned grass germinating faster than any other common lawn grass.

Photo by Milimidragan 92

It only takes about 21 days for perennial Ryegrass to grow from scattered seed to a mowing-ready lawn. Since it germinates quickly, perennial Ryegrass is a nursing grass frequently included in grass seed blends.

Thus, by germinating quickly, Perennial Ryegrass offers shade and protection to other grass species. Ryegrass grows best in the early fall or spring, but you can overseed it all year round.

Common NamePerennial Ryegrass
Botanical NameLolium perenne
Hardiness ZonesZone 3
Ideal Mowing Height1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches
Mature Size0.2 to 0.3 inches
Native Areas Europe, temperate Asia, and North Africa
Plant TypeCool-Season Perennial
Shade ToleranceModerate to High
Soil pHBetween 6.0 and 7.0
Soil TypeFertile, well-drained soils
Water Requirements1 inch of water every one to two weeks

Fine Fescue

Fine Fescue
Fine fescues are a subgroup of fescues distinguishable by their narrow, fine leaf blades.

Photo by Gail Langellotto

There are several varieties of fine fescue grass, including hard fescue, creeping red fescue, chewings fescue, and sheep fescue grass. Except for creeping red fescue, all fine-leaf fescues are bunch-type grasses.

Fine fescues are frequently combined with tall fescue to improve performance in shaded locations because of their exceptional shade tolerance and capacity to recover from stress. A healthy fescue grass maintains most or all of its dark green hue throughout the winter.

Common NameFine Fescue
Botanical NameFestuca arundinacea
Hardiness ZonesZone 4
Ideal Mowing Height1 to 3 inches
Mature Size2.5 to 4.0 inch
Native AreasNorth America, Europe, and the United Kingdom
Plant TypeCool-Season Perennial
Shade ToleranceHigh
Soil pH6 to 6.5
Soil TypeSandy and rocky to clay soi
Water Requirements1 inch of water per week

Creeping Bentgrass

Creeping Bentgrass
Creeping Bentgrass is a perennial, cool-season grass that grows rapidly in cool and wet conditions.

Photo by Alfred

Creeping Bentgrass is a specialty grass that grows best during the cool season and is most often used for putting greens on golf courses, lawn bowling greens, and other sports turf settings.

However, because of the skill and expense needed to maintain this species, it is usually not considered a suitable home lawn turf. It thrives in temperate climates with high relative humidity, likes the sun, and can even survive in partial shade.

Common NameCreeping Bentgrass
Botanical NameAgrostis stolonifera
Hardiness Zones3 to 6
Ideal Mowing HeightBetween 0.5 and 0.125
Mature Size8 inches tall
Native AreasEurasia and northern Africa
Plant TypeCool-season Perennial
Shade ToleranceModerate
Soil pH5.5 to 6.5
Soil TypeDamp, moist, and well aerated
Water RequirementsThree times per week

Velvet Bentgrass

Velvet Bentgrass
Velvet bentgrass is a fine-textured, high-density forming turfgrass ideal for golf course putting greens.

Photo by PumpkinSky

The Winter hardiness of Velvet Bentgrass has been evaluated multiple times. If you’ve ever been to a golf course, you’ve probably seen and even walked on his grass at some point.

During scientific research, velvet bentgrass emerged as one of the few species with a strong capacity for withstanding the effects of winter stress. However, it may be susceptible to various diseases while it is growing.

Common NameVelvet Bentgrass
Botanical NameAgrostis canina
Hardiness Zones3 to 6
Ideal Mowing Height0.5 cm
Mature Size1 to 2 cm
Native AreasThroughout Washington
Plant TypeCool-season Perennial
Shade ToleranceHigh
Soil pHBetween 6.0 and 6.5
Soil TypeAcidic
Water RequirementsLight and frequent

Chewings Fescue

Chewings Fescue Types of Grasses That Grow in Winter
Chewings Fescue has many benefits, including drought tolerance, poor soil, and resistance to drought and frost.

Photo by Andy Arthur

Chewings fescue is an aggressive, bunch-type fine fescue with the ability to overtake other vegetation, which is advantageous if you wish to smother weeds. It is occasionally used to overseed shaded lawns due to its strong shade tolerance.

Chewings fescue grows well in cooler climates such as the northern United States and other places where summers are cool. It fits well with the sandy, acidic, and frequently infertile soils.

Common NameChewings Fescue
Botanical NameFestuca rubra commutata
Hardiness Zones3 to 7
Ideal Mowing Height2 to 3 inches
Mature Size2.5 to 4 inches
Native AreasEurope and New Zealand
Plant TypeCool-season Perennial
Shade ToleranceHigh
Soil pH4.5 to 6.5
Soil TypeSandy, acidic, and often infertile soils
Water Requirements1 to 1.5 inches of water per week

Annual Meadow Grass

Annual Meadow Grass Types of Grasses That Grow in Winter
Annual meadow-grass is a light green, low-growing grass.

Photo by Mike Pennington

Annual meadow grass is one of the most common grasses on the planet. It grows through the Northern Hemisphere, including at the southern tip of South America and from mountain tops to coastal regions.

It can grow in the crevices of sidewalks and roof gutters and can even be an issue with newly laid turf. Although annual meadow grass sprouts all year round, the peak emergence season is from April to September.

Common NameAnnual Meadow Grass
Botanical NamePoa annua
Hardiness Zones4 to 8
Ideal Mowing Height0.5 cm or lower
Mature Size35 to 30 cm
Native AreasTemperate areas of Eurasia
Plant TypeAnnual, sometimes biennial, and occasionally perennial
Shade ToleranceModerate to High
Soil pH5.5 to 7.5
Soil TypeFertile, heavily disturbed soils
Water RequirementsModerate

RELATED: What Grass Grows Best In Sand? Our Top 6 Picks

Colonial Bentgrass

Colonial Bentgrass Types of Grasses That Grow in Winter
The Colonial Bentgrass thrives in cool coastal regions.

Photo by Rasbak

Colonial Bentgrass is a cool-season grass that grows well in coastal climates. It is extensively used for general lawn areas in coastal regions of northern California. It thrives in cooler, more humid climates and can withstand light shade.

As its name implies, colonial Bentgrass was started during the colonial era. It is now carefully groomed to provide a smooth textured turf frequently used in bowling and golf courses.

Common NameColonial Bentgrass
Botanical NameAgrostis capillaris
Hardiness Zones5 to 6
Ideal Mowing Heightbetween 0.38 and 1 inch
Mature SizeUp to 24 inches
Native AreasTemperate and cool parts of the world
Plant TypeCool Season Perennial
Shade ToleranceModerate
Soil pH5.5 to 6.5
Soil TypePoorly drained, fine to medium textured soils
Water Requirements2 to 3 inches per week

Rough Meadow Grass

Rough Meadow Types of Grasses That Grow in Winter
Rough-stalked meadow-grass is an adaptable species capable of growing in many habitats.

Photo by Philip Halling

This grass prefers heavier or wetter soils that have been compacted, which is pretty widespread. It is particularly aggressive and tends to germinate in the fall close to the ground’s surface.

Rough meadow grass is found naturally in open woodland areas, marshes, ditches, wet grassland, uneven ground, and cultivated ground.

Common NameRough Meadow Grass
Botanical NamePoa trivialis
Hardiness Zones4 to 9
Ideal Mowing Height0.5 to 1 cm
Mature Size30 to 100 cm
Native AreasUnited Kingdom
Plant TypeCool-season annual or perennial
Shade ToleranceHigh
Soil pHAbout 5
Soil TypeClay, loam, chalk, and occasionally sandy
Water RequirementsModerate

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do grasses grow in winter?

It is dependent on the region in which you live. When the temperature falls below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, most grasses go into a dormant state and do not grow very much, if at all. 

What grass grows in winter?

Although many types of grass thrive in the winter, annual and perennial Ryegrass are the most popular. Both varieties can thrive in conditions of sun or shade.

Annual Ryegrass, often known as Italian Ryegrass, is less expensive and rapidly dies off in the late spring.

Do ornamental grass live through winter?

Most ornamental grasses produce tall seed heads late in the summer that naturally survives through the winter. However, the plant will wither away as soon as the temperatures fall, leaving behind dry seed heads, stalks, and foliage.

Therefore, you should trim the grass before the following growing season so it will grow more vigorously and healthily.

How do I grow grass in winter?

Grass seeds can survive the winter, and this winter seeding is known as dormant seeding. If grass seed is sown in November or December, it will remain dormant until the earth warms up in the spring.

Winter seeding, despite the risks, can also be beneficial and save you time when it comes to springtime seeding.

Sources for Further Reading

Overseeding Winter Grasses into Bermudagrass Turf – The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Service

Overseeding Florida Lawns for Winter Color – University of Florida Extension Service

YouTube Video

Morgan Daniels

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