Warm Seasons Grasses and Grass Growth


Warm Season Turfgrasses


In most parts of the country, warm season grasses have a distinct seasonal growth pattern. They turn brown with the onset of cold weather, when soil temperatures fall below 50°F, and remain dormant until the soil warms in the spring. During this time there is no green leaf tissue and no food is produced for grass growth.

Spring green-up is very dependent on soil temperatures and can take many weeks because of fluctuating air temperatures.

This is why proper management of warm season grasses during spring transition is critical.

Keys to managing warm season grasses in spring transition:

  • Avoid applications of nitrogen until turf is 50% greened-up
  • Avoid applications of broadleaf weed control products until turf is 50% greened-up
  • Mow turf lower early in the year to aid in green-up
  • Warm season grasses grow best with at least 8 or more hours of full sun
  • Most warm season grasses do not tolerate shade well


Once soil temperatures consistently reach 60°F and nighttime temperatures stay above 60°F, warm season turfgrasses begin to grow and come out of dormancy. In extreme south areas of the United States, like South Florida, the soil temperatures stay high enough all year to support year-round turfgrass growth.

Optimal warm season turfgrass leaf, shoot and root growth is when daytime high temperatures are between 80°F and 95°F and nighttime temperatures are 72°F. Leaf growth is minimal when daytime air temperatures are below 70°F. Little or no root and shoot growth occurs when soil temperatures reach 50°F or below.

Warm Season Fertilization and Carbohydrates –

Most of the root growth of warm season grasses occurs during the late spring and summer. Fertilization during these periods will stimulate root growth but most of the energy reserves are used for shoot growth. In response to decreasing day lengths in late summer, warm season turf grasses begin to accumulate carbohydrate reserves when shoot growth activity slows.

It is very important not to apply too much nitrogen in late summer to early fall because it will decrease low temperature hardiness. Maintaining adequate potassium levels in the fall will improve the low temperature tolerance of the turfgrass.

Scotts LawnService is the trusted industry leader for professional quality lawn care. Our exclusive lawn care products include premium grass seed and professional-grade fertilizers; our lawn service teams are comprised of highly trained, industry-certified professionals. Contact a representative today for help choosing the right warm season grass blend for your yard and to learn how you can enjoy a lush, thicker lawn that only Scotts LawnService can deliver.