Fescue vs. Bermuda Grass: Which One Is Better?

fescue vs bermuda

Creating a beautiful and lush yard that is the envy of the neighborhood is a lofty yet attainable goal for many homeowners. Understanding the right grass to plant in your specific climate zone, coupled with your particular soil and sunlight, can make your lawn goals a reality.

When it comes to planting your lawn, many homeowners are faced with the decision of choosing between a laundry list of different grass seed types and varieties. Choosing between a bermuda and fescue grass seed can feel almost overwhelming.

While both fescue and bermudagrasses are fast-growing and relatively low maintenance, each grass species has its own specific application. Fescue grasses tend to grow better in colder climates and are the perfect option for shaded areas or areas that receive little to no water. Alternatively, bermudagrasses are perfect for hot and humid areas and can tolerate high light intensity.

Of course, both bermudagrass and fescue grass have their downsides. Bermuda grass is an extremely aggressive grower and can become rather invasive if not properly maintained. Plus, bermudagrass requires a special lawnmower to cut this diminutive grass species.

Fescue grass, comparatively, is an extremely fast grower, and if not carefully cut routinely, can quickly grow to three or four feet high. Before choosing the right grass species for your lawn, consider your location, commitment to maintenance, and the overall look you want to achieve.

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What is Fescue Grass?

Fescue grass is a common grass species that people will choose when populating their lawn. The grass is very dark green, and if left uncut, can grow to be between three and four feet high. Compared to other popular grass species, like bermudagrass, fescue grass has a wider leaf blade. Each blade of grass has veins that run parallel through the leaf.

What is Bermuda Grass?

Just like fescue grass, bermudagrass is also very dark green. However, this species of grass is much smaller and will only reach a maximum height of about two inches. The grass has a very rough and coarse texture. This species of grass is very different from other grasses because the plant forms stolons or roots that live above the soil line. There are also small hairs surrounding this grass in the area where the blades of grass but up to the stem of the leaves.

Which Grass Grows the Fastest?

Between fescue and bermudagrass, expect the fescue to grow much more quickly. The fescue seeds will germinate in about seven to twelve days. Then, they will begin to form a dense, green turn in about 5 ½ to 8 ½ weeks, leaving you with a beautiful lawn in just about two months. Compare this to bermudagrass, which can take about 10 to 30 days for the seeds to germinate. Expect a thick lawn of bermudagrass in about six to eleven weeks.

If you are searching for a fast-growing grass, very few options are faster than fescue. Ryegrass will create a thick turf in about five to eight weeks, making it only slightly faster than fescue. Both rye and fescue grass are well suited to colder climates.

Which Grass Requires the Least Maintenance?

Both fescue and bermudagrass are known for their very low maintenance requirements. These grasses grow well, require little weeding and minimal fertilizer to keep your lawn looking healthy and lush. Because bermudagrass grows to only two inches at its maximum height, a different type of lawnmower is often required to cut the lawn.

Be aware, however, that some hybrid bermuda species of grass can be a little more maintenance intensive. These grasses tend to be more demanding and often only grow well with high nitrogen fertilizer.

Which Grass is Better for the Cold?

If you live in an area with drastic temperature swings or cold fall and winter seasons, you will want to lean toward planting fescue grass. This species of grass is the perfect cool-season grass that thrives in zones between 3 and 9. Fescue grass also has deeper roots which means they are not as susceptible to frost and freezing in the cold winter months.

Comparatively, bermudagrass is better suited for warm and humid areas. This grass variety grows best in zones 9 through 11. This grass has roots that grow above the surface, which could easily become damaged with cold weather or snow. Bermuda grass will go through a dormant period during the winter, and the grass will turn unsightly brown.

Are There Downsides to Bermuda and Fescue Grass?

Unfortunately, even the very best grass options will have some downsides. Bermuda grass is aggressive grass and can become invasive if it is not properly controlled. Invasive grasses can become an issue to wildlife and can destroy natural habitats and vegetation.

This grass also has above-ground roots that are not easily contained with edging. This means that the grass can easily spread into paved areas. Plus, bermudagrass will also go through a dormant period when the grass turns an unsightly brown color. This appearance can be off-putting to many homeowners.

Alternatively, fescue grass also has some downsides. This grass can handle the heat but does much better when planted in the shade. Fescue is an incredibly fast-growing grass species and should be mowed regularly to about two or three inches high to keep this fast-growing grass manageable.

Because there are so many species of fescue grasses, it is best not to use the tall fescue variety if you are not able to commit to a routine and regular lawn care. This grass species can also be extremely sensitive to different fungal diseases, and the grass can become sick if it is over-fertilized with too much nitrogen.

What Are the Benefits of Bermuda Grass?

For those living in hot or humid areas that receive plenty of sun, bermudagrass may be the perfect option to create a stunning and lush backyard. This species of grass is quick to grow and requires little maintenance to keep it looking great all year long. Some of the biggest benefits of bermudagrass include:

  • Adaptable – Bermudagrass has a wide growing range and is adaptable to many different types of yards, soil types, and sun requirements.
  • Drought Tolerant – When water is scarce, bermudagrass will still thrive. This species of grass is very tolerant of drought conditions.
  • Fast Grower – Described as an aggressive grower, bermudagrass is the perfect option to get a thick and luxurious lawn in little to no time.
  • Minimal Pests – Because of the taste and texture of the individual grass blades, bermudagrass seems to be very pest resistant. This means that you can rest assured you won’t have to battle an insect infestation living in your yard when you have bermudagrass.
  • Minimal Maintenance – To keep your yard looking great, bermudagrass requires very little maintenance throughout the year. However, because this grass only grows a few inches high, a special lawnmower is required to cut this grass.

What Are the Benefits of Fescue Grass?

A fescue is a popular option for yards, especially in colder climates or areas that receive more shade throughout the day. Some of the best benefits of fescue grass include:

  • Shaded Areas – This grass species thrives in areas that do not receive full sun, making it possible to have a beautiful yard even in shaded areas.
  • Cold Tolerant – Because this grass has deep roots, they are drought resistant and more tolerant of cold weather that may kill more sensitive grasses.
  • Quick Growing – Once your fescue grass becomes rooted, it is very quick to grow and will populate your entire yard in as little as two months.
  • Bunch Forming – As fescue grass grows, it forms small bunches throughout your yard. The bunches can give the appearance of a thicker, more plentiful yard.
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Related Questions

What grass is commonly used for sod?

For some, opting for a yard from laid sod is the best option for a quick and stunning lawn. Sod is pricey but can give you instant results with a beautiful and well-manicured yard. Sod comes in all types of grass, but a few species are the most popular due to their coloration, thickness, and hardiness.

American sod is usually made of bahia, buffalo, bent, bermuda, centipede, carpet, or fescue grass. Some other options for sod, although not nearly as popular, consists of Kentucky blue, paspalum, rye, and zoysia grass.

Can you mix Bermuda and fescue grass?

Sometimes, the best option for people who want a rich and thick yard of grass will combine two different grass species. Mixing bermudagrass and different fescues together can give you a yard that works well for all seasons and all climates.

The fescues will thrive in the cooler months, like the fall and winter, while the bermudagrass will look rich, lush, and thick through the spring and the summer. When one species starts to die out, the other will thrive by mixing the grasses together, creating a blended and beautiful yard.

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