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What Is Runner-Type Grass?

What Is Runner-Type Grass?Planning to upgrade the turf on your property? Then you’ll need to know a few things about grass before you can select the best type of turf to meet your landscaping goals. When it comes to selecting a grass type, you have well over a dozen different varieties to choose from. However, not all of them will deliver the look or the barefoot feel that most homeowners are hoping for.

One type of grass that tends to be extremely robust is runner-type grass, which you may already have on your lawn, especially if it’s currently a mix of several different grass varieties. Because runner-type grass propagates quickly and reproduces easily, it’s important to know whether your lawn currently features it, since it can interfere with your new turf if you don’t remove it first.

On the other side of the coin, runner-type grasses, depending on the variety, can be a fantastic turf choice since they propagate rapidly and help to crowd out weeds. In this blog, the experts at Zoysia Sod outline what runner-type grass is and discuss the different varieties that can work for your lawn.

Defining Runner-Type Grass

Runner-type grass includes several grass varieties that spread by runners. These long, tentacle-like growths are also referred to as stolons, and they encourage grass propagation by spreading above the ground’s surface. Grass runners that spread above ground are highly visible, and according to many landscaping enthusiasts, they tend to create an undesirable aesthetic.

On the other hand, runners that spread underground (called rhizomes) can actually be helpful. Underground runners encourage a lush, uniform lawn since their dense pattern and rapid growth cycle help to prevent weed roots from taking hold. Certain types of aboveground stolon-propagating grasses also grow virtually weed-free turf since their growth patterns are incredibly dense.

What Exactly Is a Runner?

An aboveground runner, formally known as a stolon, is a stem or shoot of grass that grows upward, out of the crown of the grass plant. As it grows, it does what many landscaping enthusiasts refer to as creeping, which simply means it grows horizontally across the surface of the ground.

As the stolon stretches across the ground, it will put down roots when it finds suitable soil to grow in. All aboveground runner-type grasses rely on stolons to propagate, but the length of those stolons varies depending on the variety of grass.

An underground runner, formally known as a rhizome, is a modified grass stem that also grows horizontally. As these types of runners grow and stretch out underground, they eventually sprout up through the soil, creating new blades of grass.

Common Varieties of Aboveground Runner-Type Grass

Most seed-planted lawns feature a combination of several different types of grass, and not all of them propagate the same way. If you currently have a seed-planted lawn and would like to replace it with a new variety of turf grass, it’s important that you determine whether you have any runner-type grass in your lawn.

If you fail to remove these types of grass, their roots can eventually sprout up through your new turf, marring not only its appearance but also its barefoot feel. So what types of grass should you be on the lookout for? Here are the five most common varieties:

  • St. Augustine grass. This broad-blade, medium-green, warm-season grass is water efficient and sun loving, but it also tolerates shade quite well. It’s not the most wear-tolerant grass, which makes it an unsuitable choice for high-traffic areas.
  • Centipedegrass. This low-maintenance, slow-growing, course-bladed grass grows well in full sun and light shade. It does not tolerate traffic well and cannot survive in extended drought conditions.
  • Buffalo grass. This warm-season, fine-textured grass is grayish-green in color and produces relatively low-quality turf. It also has a long winter dormancy period and does not tolerate shade well.
  • Rough bluegrass. This fine-blade, cool-season grass is yellow-green in color and features a shallow root system. In humid areas, it is prone to disease and heat stress, and it has a low tolerance for drought and traffic.
  • Creeping bentgrass. This cool-season, fine-textured grass is considered a specialty grass, and it’s commonly seen on golf courses, bowling greens, and other high-traffic areas.

Common Varieties of Underground Runner-Type Grass

Underground runner-type grasses propagate by rhizomes, which make them a popular choice among landscaping enthusiasts who don’t prefer the look of aboveground stolons. Common varieties of rhizome-propagating grasses include:

  • Kentucky bluegrass. This dark-green, medium blade, cool-season grass is adapted to a wide range of geographic regions. However, it does not tolerate heat or drought well.
  • Certain varieties of red fescue grass. This deep-green, very fine-bladed grass grows best in cool climates and has a moderate tolerance for traffic. It can also grow well in warm climates, but only in shady, dry areas.

Common Varieties of Stolon- and Rhizome-Propagating Grass

Grasses that propagate using both aboveground and underground runners are extremely hardy, which makes them a popular choice among landscaping enthusiasts. A few of the most commonly seen varieties include:

  • Zoysia grass. Depending on the variety of this warm-season grass, Zoysia grass can feature either fine or medium blades. It is highly shade and drought tolerant and has a dense, lush growth pattern that tolerates traffic well.
  • Bermudagrass. Most varieties of this warm-season grass are highly drought and traffic tolerant. They grow best in full sun and are commonly seen on lawns, athletic fields, and golf courses.
  • Seashore paspalum. This warm-season grass does not grow well in cooler climates, making a suitable choice for southern areas only. It has a high salinity tolerance, which makes it a great choice in areas where irrigation water has a high salt content. This variety is commonly seen on athletic fields and golf course fairways.

Not sure what type of grass you currently have on your lawn or what type of grass you’d like to upgrade your lawn with? Get in touch with our team at Zoysia Sod so we can help you out!

Ready to Discuss Your Turf Options? Contact Zoysia Sod Today

If you’re ready to upgrade your lawn, our team at Zoysia Sod is here to help you bring your vision to life. Give us a call today at (469) 802-0424 to learn more, or feel free to contact us online. We’ll be in touch.

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Published by Tanner Maxson

CEO of Main Street Mowing and also the owner of this website showcasing our Zoysia installations. I love Zoysia grass and take a moment and geek out with me a little bit. Review some of the other blog posts I have written.

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