Last Updated on March 7, 2023 by Mattias
When choosing the right grass for your property, the decision should be made after considering several factors. Even though both bermuda and fescue are great options for turfgrass application, they have their fair share of benefits and drawbacks. You need to see which one goes with the other features of your lawn the best.
Bermuda grass vs Fescue is a subsequent debate in the gardening world. If you are having difficulty choosing between these two grass varieties, keep reading this article to understand them better.
Bermuda Grass vs Fescue
Both bermuda grass and fescue can create low-maintenance lawns, but the primary difference between the two is that bermuda is warm-season grass, whereas fescue is cool-season grass. This factor becomes the base of several other differences as well.
Bermudagrass can establish a desirable turf, but it goes dormant and turns brown in winter due to preservation purposes. However, Fescue has no problem with the cold and can stay green all year long. Bermuda grass quickly bounces back when damaged and is slightly more durable than fescue.
Most people don’t pay much attention to the grass type they are using, but that’s most certainly a mistake on their part. If you don’t know your grass variety all out, then it’s impossible to adapt to its needs and provide proper care. If you want a healthy lawn, be knowledgeable in this subject.
Still not certain enough to make your decision? Let’s start digging into each variety.
Everything You Need To Know About Bermuda Grass
Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) is a warm-season turf grass that can be identified by its dark green color and golf course grass-like appearance. Bermuda grows best in hot weather and generally thrives in the summer months (March-September.)
It is known for establishing a carpet-like green and vibrant turf. This grass entirely stops its growth in winter months and goes into a state of dormancy so if you’re not sure which type of grass is in your lawn, you’ll be able to recognize it by the patterns of brown patches during winter. These patches occur because Bermuda grass focuses all its energy on surviving environmental stress during the cold weather, and once it’s over, the grass recovers itself.
Bermuda grass mainly grows by two means. Stolons (above-ground stems) and rhizomes (below-ground stems.) These both are asexual reproduction methods, and bermuda does this by shooting stems around the lawn and recreating clones of the original plant. This grass is quick to grow; if it isn’t controlled in time, it can take over your lawn and invade other species. Its aggressive growth makes it less desirable for some people, but if you want to establish a lawn quickly, this factor may also be taken as a benefit.
You can identify bermuda grass by looking for certain characteristics. For instance, bermuda grass’s height ranges from 4-12 inches with pointed leaves. Bermuda grass has flowers at the tip of the stem with purple branched and egg-shaped seeds. Lastly, bermudagrass will form a dense turf.
Everything You Need To Know About Fescue
Fescue is a perennial cool-season grass whose medium can identify as the dark green color and coarse texture. It is a bunch-type grass that takes on a fast, upright, and clumpy appearance on your lawn, and it is the best choice for northern regions. This grass has many types, but tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) is the most popular.
Since it is a cool season grass, it doesn’t go dormant in winter months and remains green all year long. However, it may turn brown if your site conditions are overly hot and humid. Unlike bermuda whose average growth is 2 inches, fescue grasses can grow extremely long if left unattended.
Tillers are vertical shoots that develop from the leaf’s axils. They are branches that grow independently and subsequently spread over time. Fescue grass grows in clumps and uses this method to spread in your lawn. Tillers are a good method for reproduction because they contain grass’s growth and stop it from invading flower beds or other species. However, this reduces the plant’s ability to bounce back quickly after damage.
Fescue is also a type of grass that doesn’t need much maintenance other than standard fertilizing, overseeding, mowing, and aerating.
Apart from these general features, you can also identify fescue grass in your lawn by looking for certain characteristics. Fescue has rolled vernation, meaning that if you place it between your fingers and roll it, it will roll smoothly. This grass also lacks auricles (collar extensions), and it has short membrane-filled ligules. Lastly, you can identify tall fescue grass in your lawn by looking for panicle seed heads.
Bermuda Grass vs Fescue – Differences
Despite being desirable lawn grasses, there is not much similarity between bermuda grass and fescue. Their differences are what distinguishes them from each other. Take a look below to learn all about it.
As mentioned above, bermuda is one of the warm season grasses that thrive in warm months (mainly spring and summer.) as the early fall season approaches, Bermuda’s growth slows down and finally stops in winter months when the grass goes dormant. Bermuda’s ideal temperatures will range from 75 – 95 degrees Fahrenheit because this grass loves full sun, heat, direct sunlight, and it is highly suitable for tropical regions and southern States.
On the other hand, Fescue is a cool-season grass that prefers cooler climates and is mostly used in northern regions. Fescue’s growth peaks when the temperature is between 55 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Even though the grass won’t go completely dormant and turn brown in the summer months, it will lose some of its colors and become more susceptible to pests, diseases, and insects. Tall fescue lawns thrive the most in winter, fall, and spring and lose some of their vibrancy in dry summer months.
Apart from the difference in their growing conditions, bermuda and fescue also have distinct characteristics. It’s uncommon for a cool season grass to be heat tolerant, but fine fescue possesses this feature because of its deep root system. However, all warm-season grasses are naturally adaptable to such conditions. You can say that, unlike fescue, Bermuda grass doesn’t just tolerate heat but loves it and thrives in warm climates.
Fescue and bermuda are completely unalike because of their opposing characteristics. Bermuda grass is known to be salt tolerant and drought resistant, but it has poor cold and shade tolerance, whereas fescue has a high cold and shade tolerance but low drought and salt tolerance.
If damage has been done to the grass, bermuda will recover quickly and bounce back almost immediately, but fescue will take a long time to get back. Another one of their different characteristics is that bermuda spreads through its above-ground stems (stolons) and below-ground stems (rhizomes), but fescue grows through tillers. Where Bermuda’s aggressive growth is highly invasive, fescue is deep-rooted and less likely to invade your lawn.
Both these kinds of grasses are adaptable to various soil types and can be used for several purposes. Bermuda, tolerable to heavy traffic, is used on a large scale, from athletic fields, golf courses, and roadside projects to professional sports fields and house lawns. This grass is vastly adaptable. However, it may not perform well in northern states and southern transition zones. The grass will go into a dormancy state and form brown patches all over the turf.
To avoid this complication, tall fescue is used as an alternative. Since bermuda will not function properly in colder climates and shady areas, fescue will be a favorable and good option for these regions. Fescue can be used where warm-season grass won’t be viable.
Bermuda Grass vs Fescue – advantages
|Forms a dense turf||Tolerant to shaded areas|
|Drought tolerant||Better drought tolerance than other cool-season grasses|
|Heat resistant||Heat tolerant|
|Grows quickly||Quick establishment|
|Less vulnerable to pests||Can survive in poor soil conditions.|
|Tolerates heavy foot traffic||Bunch-forming grass|
Bermuda Grass vs Fescue – disadvantages
|Aggressive growth can be uncontrollable||Prone to pests and diseases|
|Tends to invade other species||Coarse grass blades|
|needs a lot of water||Can’t survive regions that are highly hot or humid|
|Speedy growth encourages thatch buildup||Highly vulnerable to brown patch disease|
|Goes dormant in cold temperatures and forms unsightly brown patches||Can become thin after dry climatic conditions|
Which Grass Species Is Better For Your Property?
Knowing your grass is the key to having a lush green and beautiful lawn. If you are in a conundrum and can’t decide which of these two types of grass to choose. The answer is quite simple. They are both suitable for entirely different climatic and growing conditions. If you live in a northern region with a generally cold climate, then fescue will be the best option.
For southern regions with hot, dry, and tropical conditions, establishing a bermuda lawn will certainly be a good idea.
If your desired area for the lawn is exposed to direct sunlight, then you should choose bermuda grass. Remember that bermuda won’t even like partial shade.
Not only this, but other factors matter as well. For instance, you should ask yourself which type of lawn you want. If you are aiming for a dense turf that will be lush, soft, and pleasant to walk on, then bermuda is the right choice. Conversely, Fescue makes up for a coarse-textured and clumpy lawn that may not be suitable for your house lawn.
Bermuda requires a lot of resources, including your time, patience, and attention, so if you are not ready to commit 100% to its growth, then it may not be the right pick for you. Whereas Fescue requires standard maintenance, and it is not likely to cause a hassle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you mix bermuda with tall fescue?
No. You can not mix bermuda and tall fescue, and you’ll need to make a choice in this situation. It is an all-year grass that will take over your dormant bermuda in the winter months. Fescue is a type of grass that’s either “all in” or “all out,” It won’t be compatible with bermudagrass.
Is bermuda easier to maintain than fescue?
Fescue grass is usually easy to take care of and needs average maintenance at best. When compared to bermuda, fescue is much more low maintenance because Bermuda needs more mowing, water, and fertilizers to grow properly. It also needs your undivided time and attention, or it’ll grow out of control.
How to replace bermuda grass with fescue?
If the bermuda lawn isn’t going well, you can replace it with fescue. You can remove the Bermuda grass with a sod cutter or use a herbicide to do the job, and the best time to do this would be late summer (July- September.) After the effects have worn off, you can plant the fescue seeds.
Bermuda Grass vs Fescue Summary
Now that you know all about bermuda grass and fescue remember that your behavior and attendance to the lawn should change based on the species. You don’t want to treat your bermuda grass according to fescue’s requirements and vice versa.
In this article, we discussed bermuda grass vs fescue. After covering all the important factors, it is safe to say that these grass varieties are ideal choices for different conditions, and they will show the best results when chosen properly.
The key takeaway from this article is that bermuda and fescue have plenty of differences. We also talked about their advantages and drawbacks, but remember that even though they might be advantageous, you can only choose the one that agrees with your site conditions and level of desired maintenance requirements.
Did you find this article helpful? Lawn owners often have a hard time choosing between grasses. Share this with your friends and help them out as well.
Meet Mattias Jonsson, the head of content at RainSaucers. Passionate about gardening and water-related topics, he’s dedicated to providing expert information and resources to help improve your home, health, and wallet. Learn from his research and experience.