Which Grass Varieties are Drought Tolerant?

Over the last few postings we have covered the features and benefits of different grass varieties. Let's now cover drought tolerance examples.


When referred to Kentucky Bluegrass as “drought tolerant”, it means that it can tolerate dehydration. It often possesses excellent dormancy mechanisms and a good ability to recover from dormancy.
A few examples of drought tolerant grasses are:
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Buffalograss
  • Bermudagrass
  • Bromegrass
  • Quackgrass
When referring to “drought avoidance”, it means that it maintain growth when drought stressed. It possesses the following qualities:
  • Deep, extensive root systems
  • High ratio of roots to shoots
  • Xeromorphic characteristics (leaf rolling, hairy leaves, thick cuticle)
  • May not possess good dormancy mechanism
  • Recovery from extended, severe drought may be poor
A few examples of grasses that follow under this category are:
  • Tall fescue
  • Perennial ryegrass
  • St. Augustinegrass
When referring to “drought escape”, it means that the plant completes its life cycle prior to the onset of drought. An example is Poa annua var. annua
Source: Based on Tony Koski, ExtensionTurf Specialist Colorado State University, ProGreen Expo, January 24, 2008 presentation

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