A lush, green lawn can do wonders for your home’s curb appeal, create comfortable spaces for gathering with family and friends, and provide areas for children and pets to play. If you want to replace your existing lawn or if you are planning to lay sod or plant the seed for a brand new lawn at your new home, you will need to choose the type of grass that will work best for your lawn.
There are hundreds of varieties of lawn grasses in the United States, some of which are native and some that are not. With so many options available, how do you choose the best grass for your lawn? Below are some tips to help you make an informed decision.
Warm-Season and Cool-Season Grasses
There are many types of grasses used in lawns, and many lawns contain a mixture of two or more of them. The types of grasses fall into the categories of either warm-season grasses or cool-season grasses.
Warm-season grasses thrive in warmer climates with temperatures of 80 – 95 degrees, such as in the Southern United States. These grasses use water efficiently, so they don’t get dehydrated as easily as some other grasses. Warm-season grasses become dormant when the temperature drops below 65 degrees for a period of time.
Cool grasses can tolerate extreme temperature fluctuations, so they thrive in the North, Northeast, and the Pacific Northwest regions in the United States. They tend to grow well at temperatures of 60 – 75 degrees. These grasses can tolerate minor drought conditions, but they do require regular watering.
Types of Cool-Season Grasses
Here you’ll find the best cool-season grasses to use in your garden or on your lawn.
1. Kentucky Bluegrass
Kentucky bluegrass has fine, deep green blades and is one of the more popular types of grass in the Northern United States.
|Blade||V-shape and pointed|
- When it is blended with other types of grasses, this grass adds some shade tolerance to the lawn.
- This grass does well with some sunlight, is durable, and holds up well in high-traffic areas.
- Kentucky bluegrass does not withstand heat as well as some other grasses, and it can turn brown if exposed to more than 6 – 8 hours of sunlight per day.
- Kentucky bluegrass establishes slowly after being planted.
2. Perennial Ryegrass
This grass has fine to moderate blades. It is sometimes used to overseed winter-dormant grass because it germinates quickly.
|Color||Soft dark green|
|Blade||Pointed visible veins|
- Perennial ryegrass grows quickly, so it’s a good option to mix with other grasses, but can also be used on its own.
- This grass holds up well to heavy traffic.
- It is fairly drought-tolerant and does well in areas with moderate temperatures year-round.
- Perennial ryegrass has a low tolerance for shade and extremely high temperatures.
- It requires a moderate to high amount of maintenance, including frequent watering.
3. Tall Fescue
Tall fescue grass has deep roots and broad, dark green blades. It is a low maintenance grass that provides a thick, lush lawn.
|Color||Dark green coarse|
|Blade||Pointed visible veins|
- Tall fescue absorbs water well and can withstand high temperatures.
- This is a low maintenance grass that works well in high-traffic areas.
- Tall fescue is prone to thinning.
- This type of grass requires a lot of water during hot, dry summers.
- It may die if it’s exposed to excessive amounts of dog urine.
Bentgrass has narrow, flat blades and a soft, fine, dense texture. It is commonly found on golf courses in the Northern United States.
|Color||Soft dense green|
- Bentgrass can be mowed very low and provides a dense turf with a fine texture.
- It is fast-growing.
- It can be pricey to maintain a bentgrass lawn, because it may require extensive use of insecticides, fertilizers, and fungicides, as well as frequent watering.
- Bentgrass has a poor to moderate drought tolerance.
Types of Warm-Season Grasses
Here you’ll find the best warm-season grasses to use in your garden or on your lawn.
5. Bermuda Grass
Bermuda grass has a medium to coarse texture and provides a thick, dense lawn. It has sharp, deep green blades and is commonly found in California and the Southern United States.
|Color||Deep dense green|
- Bermuda grass has a high tolerance for heat and drought.
- This grass grows quickly and works well in high-traffic areas.
- It is resistant to weeds and other invasive species.
- Bermuda grass is not very resistant to cold, so it tends to turn brown during the winter.
- This grass can thin out during the winter, which can allow weeds to grow.
- It needs 6 – 8 hours of direct sunlight daily, and it does not have a high tolerance for shade.
6. St. Augustine Grass
St. Augustine grass is characterized by coarse, broad, dark green blades. It spreads out and creates densely covered lawns. This grass thrives in warm regions, such as Florida, some parts of California, and along the Gulf Coast.
|Color||Dark coarse green|
|Blade||Broad with rounded tip|
- There are very few pest problems with St. Augustine grass.
- This grass grows aggressively and has a high tolerance for salt, which makes it ideal for lawns near the coast.
- It is a hardy grass that can tolerate drought conditions.
- St. Augustine grass does not tolerate cold temperatures.
- This grass can require regular aeration.
- It can grow too aggressively.
7. Zoysia Grass
Zoysia grass has prickly, narrow blades that form a thick, carpet-like lawn. Zoysia grass is often found in the middle and eastern regions of the country, but it can also be found in the North.
|Color||Prickly stiff green|
|Blade||Narrow needle like|
- Zoysia is drought-resistant and tolerant to salt.
- This grass works well in high-traffic areas, so it’s great for those who have pets or young children.
- When the weather gets cold, Zoysia grass will turn brown.
- It is a slow-growing grass.
Choosing a Grass Type for Your Lawn
Below are some factors homeowners should consider when choosing the best grasses for their lawns.
If you are in an area that is prone to droughts, you should choose a grass that is drought-resistant. Some grasses have a better chance of survival if there is not enough water available to keep it thoroughly watered. Newly planted grass and sod need to be watered regularly to encourage strong roots and proper growth.
Extreme heat and long hours of direct sun can create problems for certain types of grass, including dehydrating the lawn and causing it to turn brown.
Sun and Shade
Some grasses work well in sunny areas, while others do better in shade. If your lawn has areas that are mostly shady or sunny, that can determine the type of grass you should choose.
How you will use your lawn should influence your decision about the type of grass you choose. If you have pets or young children, you should choose a grass that is sturdy and works well in high-traffic areas. If the grass will be on a hill or an area that isn’t mowed frequently, you should choose a slow-growing grass.
Maintenance Tips for your Grass Lawn
Here you’ll find the most common tips to maintain a perfect grass lawn or garden. Remember, not all grasses are equal so it’ll take a bit of trying before you find that perfect grass glow!
Watering your grass
It’s important to water your lawn once or twice a week with about 1 – 1 ½ inches of water, depending on the type of grass you choose. If you water your lawn early in the morning, it will have plenty of time to dry out during the day.
Watering during the middle of the day will cause the water to evaporate too quickly, and watering at night will leave too much moisture on the lawn’s surface, which can encourage diseases.
Fertilize your grass
Fertilizing your lawn every 6 – 8 weeks can contribute to a strong, healthy lawn with less space for weeds to grow. Just make sure you don’t over-fertilize, which can damage your lawn. If your grass is growing too rapidly, you may want to fertilize less frequently.
Before choosing a fertilizer product, you should consider having a soil test done to determine the types of nutrients your grass already provides to your lawn, as well as its pH. Your County Agricultural Extension Service can provide you with more information about the testing process.
You can use weed control products to reduce or prevent weeds from growing, and when you do see them, you should eliminate them immediately before they have a chance to spread throughout the lawn.
Mowing your lawn on a high setting will help the lawn retain moisture longer and contribute to a strong and healthy root system. Different types of grasses may need to be mowed at different heights. According to the Los Angeles County Public Works Smart Gardening Fact Sheet, Bermuda, tall fescue, and St. Augustine grasses should be mowed to approximately 1 ½ inches, and fescues and ryegrasses should be mowed to 2 ½ inches.
Aerating your lawn involves perforating its surface with small holes to encourage better water absorption. This can be done with an aeration machine in large areas or with a pitchfork in smaller areas.
Carefully considering your climate, susceptibility to drought, the sun and shade your lawn will receive, and what you will use it for, will help you determine the best grass for your lawn. And with proper care, it can stay healthy and look great.
The best grass aeration tools
Find our top 3 tools for perfect aeration of your different grass types here.
Getting your perfect grass pad
Although the grass often looks greener on the other side, you now should know the best type of grass for your garden and how to maintain it! There are more than a dozen different types of grasses, and many lawns contain a mixture of two or more types of grass, so painting a general picture of your lawn will do in most cases.
Now, were you able to identify your lawn’s type of grass and do you now know how to maintain it properly? We love to hear from you so please leave a comment below and mention your grass type!