Grasses are divided into many groups and subgroups, which can generally be categorized into one of two major groups: turfgrass or ornamental grass. Turfgrass is the ground cover grass most people are used to seeing on football fields and in parks. Ornamental grass, also called garden grass, is a decorative type of grass used in many creative landscapes and gardens. This type of grass features thick, reed-like blades that can grow to considerable height.
When they imagine grass, most people think of types of grasses that fit into the turfgrass category. Turfgrasses, the cushy, carpet-like types of grasses used for lawn grass, are further divided into warm-season and cool-season grasses. Common turfgrasses vary by region, but include Bermudagrass, St. Augustine grass and bent grass. Individual types of grass have different growing needs. Some turfgrasses are drought-tolerant grasses, while other types of grasses may be salt-tolerant or resistant to pests and weeds.
It is important to choose a grass suited to the climate and environment where it will grow. Salt-tolerant grasses are necessary for areas with slightly salty soil or a salty sea spray. Extremely salty conditions may prevent growth of any turfgrass. Some grasses require a full regimen of sun, while other grasses prefer the shade, which an important consideration for lawn areas shaded by trees or large buildings.
Ornamental grass is less commonly recognized as a type of grass because it does not look like the lawn grass most people see. Rather than spreading out along the ground, tall ornamental types of grasses come in large clumps that can grow to be twice as tall as an average person. They are green when the weather is temperate and wet, and in the winter they become glistening mounds of fallen snow. Different types of ornamental grass grow in different sizes, shapes, and shades of green for different effects. Popular types of ornamental grasses include fountaingrass, Japanese silver grass and pampas grass.
Grass can propagate, or reproduce new plants, by seed or it can use extensions called stolons to project and root a new plant in nearby ground. This can help grass grow back when it becomes damaged, but it can also create a problem if the grass gets out of hand. Choosing types of grasses that are not prone to spreading on their own can help reduce the chances that a grass gardener will lose control of his lawn.