Learn a lot more about different turf grass species, sub species and cultivars. Understand their comparable characteristics and gain the ability to make better decisions about what to use in varied situations.

Course Code: BHT342
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Know More about Turf species and Cultivars

Use the Right Grass in the Right Place

Learn a lot more about different turf grass species, sub species and cultivars. Understand their comparable characteristics and gain the ability to make better desiccation about what to use in varied situations.

Turf or lawn is a surface covered by (normally) grasses growing in an unnatural environment contrived by man. Other plants may occasionally be used as a lawn or mixed with grasses to create a lawn, but lawns are for the most part created with only grasses.
Lawns don’t just happen naturally. They are planned, put there by people and maintained through mowing and other practices. If we want the turf cover to be sustainable and fit for purpose, it needs to be purposefully planned and maintained.

The grasses which you choose to use in a turf, need to be understood and carefully selected to meet the purpose of that turf. Making a good choice of grass variety can make a huge difference to the quality of the surface, the health of the grasses, what it can be used for and the cost of maintaining it in terms of moth money and resources.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • What is grass
    • Grass structure (Morphology)
    • Description of grasses
    • Grass flowers and florets
    • Grass terminology - botanical terms
    • Cultivar selection criteria
    • Classification of turf grass genera
    • Botanical tribes of turf grasses
    • How turf grasses are developed
  2. Turf Grass Physiology and Fescues
    • Seed viability factors
    • Morphology of a typical grass
    • Flowers
    • Tillering, stolons, rhizomes
    • Roots
    • Shoots - inter vaginal and extra vafinal growth
    • Root shoot ratio
    • Recuperative potential
    • Ways to identify grasses
    • Botanical Key for selected common grasses
    • Identifying tips for rye grasses, fescues, bents, bluegrasses and others
    • Tall fescue
    • Hard fescue
    • Meadow fescue
    • Red fescue
    • Chewings fescue
    • Major warm season grasses - couch, carpet grass, etc
  3. Bentgrasses
    • Introduction to the genus
    • Species
    • Creeping bent
    • Colonial bent grass
    • Velvet bent grass
    • Red top bent grass
    • Highland bent
    • Idaho bent
    • Bent grass cultivars - seaside, pencross, penn series etc.
  4. Ryegrasses
    • Introduction
    • Perennial rye grsss - description, cultivars
    • Italian ryegrass - cultivars, hybrids
    • Annual rye grass
    • Darnel
    • Rye grass cultivars
    • A
  5. Bluegrasses
    • Kentucky Bluegrass - Poa pratenseis
    • Annual Bluegrass or Winter Grass - Poa annua
    • Supina Bluegrass - Poa supina
    • Texas Bluegass - Poa arachnifera
    • Rough Bluegrass - Poa trivialis
    • Canada Bluegrass - Poa compressa
    • Upland Bentgrass - Poa glaucantha
    • Wood Bluegrass - Poa nemoralis
    • Bulbous Bluegrass - Poa bulbosa
  6. Couchgrasses
    • Couchgrass or Bermudagrass - Cynodon dactylon
    • South African Couch - Cynodon transvaalensis
    • Hybrid Couch - cultivars selected from cross breeding Cynodon dactylon with Cynodon transvaalensis
    • Queensland Blue Couch - Digitaria didactyla
    • Salt Water Couch - Paspalum vaginatum
  7. Buffalo and Zoysia Grasses
    • Buffalo grasses
    • Zoysia grasses - species, cultivars, culture
    • Stenotaphrum
    • Bouteloua
    • Buchloe
  8. Other Warm Condition Grasses
    • Centipede grass - introduction, culture, cultivars
    • Paspalums
    • Seashore paspalum
    • Bahia grass
    • Pennisetum - fountain grass, kikuyu
    • Carpet grass
    • Sweet smoother
    • Comparing drought tolerance
  9. Other Cool Condition Grasses
    • Hair grasses
    • Turf grass Mixes
    • Timothy grass
    • Beach grass
    • Wheat grass
    • Crested dog tail
    • Salt marsh grass
    • Brome grass
    • Phalaris
  10. Turf Grass Mixes
    • Introduction
    • Seasonal variations
    • Good and bad mixes
    • Research
    • Advantages of blended mixes
    • Problems of blended mixes
    • What mixes with what
    • Working with seasonal growth patterns

Most turfs or lawns are a community comprising more than just one turfgrass cultivar.

There are lots of different ways of classifying different types of turf cultivars. All are helpful.

Under the scientific system for classifying grasses, all grasses belong to the same plant family, which is called Poaceae. Previously the family was called Graminae; and you may still find references that use that as the family name.
The family Poaceae is divided up into a number of different broad sub groups called “tribes”.
Those tribes are then further divided into groups called genera; and those genera are again divided.
The more commonly grown tribes and genera found in each are:

  • Chlorideae includes Cynodon, Buchloe and Bouteloua
  • Horideae includes Lolium and Agropyron
  • Zoysieae includes Zoysia
  • Agrostideae includes Agrostis, Phleum and Ammophila
  • Festuceae includes Festuca, Poa and Bromus
  • Paniceae includes Paspalum, Pennisetum, Stenotaphrum and Axonopus

Understanding this can provide you with a scientific framework for classifying grasses with shared characteristics. Your understanding of this will develop as you study this course.


What is Turf?

In 1973, Beard defined a turf as “an aggregation of individual turfgrass plants that have mutual relationships with the environment as well as among the individual plants”

Turfgrass swards (soil and living plants) are ecosystems made up of a variety of species all competing for nutrients, light, water and oxygen. The degree to which one competes with the others will constantly change, as the environmental conditions vary (particularly across seasons), and as different pests and diseases impact to suppress one in favour of others.

Management practices can impact significantly on these interactions, to favour one species or discourage another.

The species growing in a well managed turf will be largely contrived to create a desired type of turf cover across the seasons, and to meet the intended purpose of that turf, whether as a sports surface, for erosion control, aesthetic affect, or something else. There is always the possibility of unplanned species entering the sward as weeds. If unmanaged, weeds can eventually dominate some turf swards; and the original turfgrass species may die out completely. This level of change in a sward may be acceptable in some situations (eg. a mown sward on a roadside); but it can significantly degrade the value of turf in other situations (eg. sports greens).


This is a course for Green keepers, Groundsmen, Turf Managers, Gardeners and others.

Anyone who works with Turf Grasses needs to know the things that this course covers.


UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

Our principal John Mason is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture

Accredited ACS Global Partner

Member of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association since 1993

ACS is a silver sponsor of the AIH. The principal, John Mason, is a fellow. ACS certificate students are offered a free membership for this leading professional body.Provider.

Member of Study Gold Coast

Institute of Training and Occupational Learning (UK)

Principal John Mason is a member of Parks and Leisure Australia since 1974 and a fellow since 1998

Recognised since 1999 by IARC

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Timothy Walker B.A.(Botany), RHS.M. Hort., Post.Grad.Dip.Ed.

Botanist, Horticulturist and Gardener. Author and lecturer at Somerville College, Oxford. After training at a number of gardens including Windsor Great Park, and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew commenced work at Oxford Botanic Gardens in 1986. Appointed as

John Mason (Horticulturist)

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and edito

Bob James (Horticulturist)

Bob has over 50 years of experience in horticulture across both production sectors (Crops and nursery) and amenity sectors of the industry.
He holds a Diploma in Agriculture and Degree in Horticulture from the University of Queensland; as well as a Maste

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