What do you know about Turfgrass identification?

Good turfcare starts with knowing what the specific turf in your care is!

Once you know what you are working with you can research the specific species of turfgrass and find out more about it’s ideal growing conditions, its strengths and it’s weaknesses.
…but how do you know what it is?

There are more than 12 000 species of grass in the world, and according to the 1992 Readers Digest book, “The Great South African Outdoors”, there are approximately 175 indigenous genera and 847 species of the grass family represented in South Africa. Although simple in structure, and often overlooked by passers-by, grass is one of the largest and most successful families on earth.

Grass literally comes in all shapes and sizes and serves us in many different ways. It forms a vitally important role in the food chain as grazing for many different animals and gets put to a number of uses by humans on a daily basis around the world. Some of the common uses include:

  • Erosion prevention (by stabilising the ground)
  • Dust prevention (by stabilising the ground – especially on mine dumps)
  • Thatching
  • Manufacture of baskets & brooms
  • Aesthetic lawns (landscaped gardens)
  • Functional lawns/turf (sport fields & golf courses)

The term “Turfgrass” refers to plants that are capable of forming a continuous cover under frequent and persistent mowing. (definition from the book: “Turfgrass Culture, by Josep Cirera”)

Not all varieties of grass are suitable for use as Turfgrass. Of the thousands of species of grass, only about 50 species from three sub-families are tolerant of the ongoing mowing & use that lawns are exposed to and thus used as turfgrass.

So, although the prospect of identifying a variety of turfgrass may seem daunting, there are only a  handful of species to differenciate between, and there are some ‘very easy to determine’ characteristics that you can use to help you.

There is a great tool available on the Perdue University website. Take a look at: https://turf.purdue.edu/tool/index.html