Bermuda Grass vs. Fescue – Differences + Identification

Bermuda and fescue are good choices for lawn grasses. However, they thrive under different climate conditions. Bermuda is a warm-season grass that thrives in the Southern United States, while fescue is a cool-season grass that grows well in the Northern United States and transition areas.

In summary, the following are key differences between Bermuda grass and Fescue.

Bermuda Grass                  Fescue Grass
A warm-season grass that enters peak growth in late spring and early summerA cool-season grass that enters peak growth in the fall and spring seasons
The grass goes dormant during winter – it turns from green to brownThe grass stays green all year and will only turn pale in the intense heat of summer
It grows aggressively and spreads through rhizomes filling the lawn within a short timeIt grows in clumps and spreads primarily through vertical shoots called tillers
Not shade tolerant, and the grass will thin if under shade for a long periodSome fescue cultivars are shade tolerant
Requires high maintenance, including proper fertilizing, mowing, and wateringIt has low maintenance requirements-less mowing, watering, and fertilizing are needed.
Has a high recovery rate from damagesIt takes time to recover or repair thinning or bare spots
Susceptible to insects and fungal diseasesNot susceptible to pests and insects

Bermuda Grass Identification

Bermuda grass grows very fast and is very invasive. It has over 50 cultivars with different shades and blade sizes. However, they can be grouped into two categories.

1. Seeded Bermuda grass

Just as the name suggests, these Bermuda grasses are grown from seeds. They have a fine leaf texture, make a denser turf, and are darker than the hybrids. The dense turf makes them have high traffic tolerance and injury recovery.

They grow in high-traffic areas such as parks and golf courses. They also require less maintenance than the hybrid Bermuda grass. Examples of seeded Bermuda grasses include Yuma, Sahara, Blackjack, and Princess Bermuda.

2. Hybrid Bermuda Grass

Hybrid Bermuda grasses are a cross-breed of common Bermuda and African Bermuda grasses. They are dark green with thin leaves. Although they produce seed heads, they do not produce seeds and can only be established through sods, plugs, or sprigging.

They are loved for their sheer quality and insect and disease resistance. However, they require more fertilization and maintenance than their seeded counterparts. They include Tifgreen Bermuda, Sunturf, Tifway, Santa Ana, and FloraTex.

Fescue Grass Identification

Fescue grasses are very popular not only in cool weather areas but also in transition areas. Over 300 varieties of fescue grasses will do well in different climates and soils, but all require less maintenance. 

Some cultivars are better in shade, drought, and disease tolerance; therefore, you need to do thorough research to identify the variety that best suits your lawn. Fescue grasses include tall fescue, hard fescue, turf-type tall fescue, fine fescue, and fescue grass blends.

Bermuda vs Fescue Grass – Detailed Comparisons

The following are key differences between Bermuda grass and fescue:

1. Growing conditions 

Bermuda is a warm-season grass that grows best in hardiness zone 6 to 11 within the USA. Its peak season is summer, and will go dormant during winter. 

On the other hand, Fescue is a cool grass season that grows best during fall, spring, and winter. It is grown in hardiness zone 2 to 7.

2. Traffic Tolerance

Both types of grass have high traffic tolerance, but Bermuda can tolerate more traffic. Some cultivars of fescue rank high in traffic tolerance, but some are moderate. Bermuda grass also has a high recovery rate and is ideal for high-traffic areas such as parks and sports fields.

Fescue has a high recovery rate among cool-season grasses, but Bermuda ranks better.

3. Drought Tolerance 

Fescue grasses are deep-rooted so they can reach water and nutrients more than most lawn grasses. They require 1 inch of water a week and can tolerate drought for some time.

Bermuda also requires 1 inch of water a week and can still thrive under high heat.

4. Disease and Pest Resistance

Both types of grass are pest resistant and will save you the headache of using pesticides. Fescue grasses are less vulnerable to diseases, unlike Bermuda, which is very susceptible to fungal diseases. 

5. Growth Habits

Bermuda grass grows aggressively and spreads through rhizomes filling the lawn within a short time. It must be mowed frequently and kept at the height of 0.5-1.5 inches. If not mowed on time, it will infringe on the pathway and flowerbeds. 

Fescue also grows tall and fast. However, it grows in clumps and is therefore not invasive.

Also Check: How to make Bermuda Grass Thicker

Which Grass is Better, Bermuda or Fescue

Let’s look at their pros and cons to determine which is better.

Pros of Bermuda grass 

  1. High recovery rate.
  2. High traffic tolerance.
  3. When established, it makes a dense turf that chokes weeds.
  4. High growth rate – spreads quickly to fill bare patches on the lawn.
  5. Bermuda grass can grow in a range of soils found in warm climates.
  6. High drought tolerance will still thrive during the dry season with little watering.
  7. High salt tolerance – ideal for the coastal region.
  8. Bermuda grass can be grown from seeds, sods, plugs, or springing.
  9. High pest resistance

Cons of Bermuda grass

  1. Susceptible to fungal diseases and insects.
  2. Poor cold tolerance – it will go dormant and brown during winter.
  3. Its aggressive growth rate causes it to invade pathways and places it is not wanted if not mowed on time. 
  4. Not shade tolerant and will thin if under shade for a long period.

Pros of Fescue Grass

  1. Stays green all year – although fescue is a cool season grass and looks best during the cool season. It will not brown during the warm season, although it will turn pale green.
  2. Some fescue cultivars are shade tolerant, unlike most cool-season grasses. Choose a cultivar with the highest shade tolerance if your lawn has many trees.
  3. High drought tolerance – fescue grasses are deep-rooted, allowing them to reach for water. This allows them to stay green even when not watered for some time.
  4. Low maintenance – The deep roots can gather nutrients far into the soil, minimizing their need for fertilizing. They also do not spread very fast. 
  5. Fescue grass is not susceptible to pests and insects.
  6. Suitable for cool and transition regions.
  7. High traffic tolerance.

Cons of Fescue

  1. Low recovery rate – it takes time to recover or repair thinning or bare spots.

Both fescue and Bermuda are excellent choices for lawn grasses. However, the best grass will depend on your region. Bermuda will do better in warm areas, while fescue will do better in cool and transition areas.

Also Check: How to Make Tall Fescue Grass Spread Faster

Can You Mix Bermuda and Fescue?

Mixing Bermuda and fescue can ensure you have an all-green lawn all year round. However, the two types of grass have different mowing height requirements, and finding a balance can be challenging. They also have different fertilizing schedules but all factors considered, you can still overseed a Bermuda lawn with fescue or vice-versa.

During fall, mow the Bermuda grass to a height of about 1 inch and water the lawn. Spread the fescue seed and fertilizer afterwards. Keep the lawn damp until the seeds sprout. 

Before mixing Bermuda and fescue grasses, test your soil and ensure it is ideal for both types of grass. 

Final Thought

Bermuda is a warm-season grass, while fescue is a cool-season grass. Both types of grass have a high traffic tolerance, but Bermuda has a high recovery rate. Fescue wins on shade tolerance, while Bermuda wins on high growth rate and spreading.


  1. THE HISTORY OF BERMUDAGRASS, David M. Kopec, Extension Turfgrass Specialist
  2. University of California IPM, Tall fescue — Festuca arundinacea

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