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Choose the Right Grass for Your Lawn

Success with your lawn depends on many things. Not the least among them is growing the proper type of grass for your area. In general, northern areas grow cool season grasses and southern areas grow warm season varieties. The transition area is capable of growing both types with the proper care.

Closeup of Lawn.

Identifying Grass Types

Creeping grasses like bluegrass, Bermuda and most warm-season grasses spread by above- or below-ground runners. Creeping varieties are more prone to thatch.

Bunch grasses such as fescue and ryegrass spread from the crown of the plant. Mowing high protects the crown and ensures the survival of the grass.

Cool-Season Grasses

Grass
Mowing Height
Traffic Tolerance
Soil Type
Sun
Bentgrass
1/2-1"
light
tolerates acidic
full
Bluegrass
2-2 1/2"
light
pH 6.5-7 neutral
full
Perennial Ryegrass
2-3"
high
most types
full
Fine Fescue
2-3"
light
most types
full/shade
Tall Fescue
2-3"
high
most types
full/partial

 

Warm-Season Grasses

Grass Mowing Height Traffic Tolerance Soil Type Sun
Bahia 2-2 1/2" moderate many types
full/moderate
Bermuda
1 1/2-2"
high
light textured
full
Centipede
1 1/2-2"
light tolerates acidic
full/partial
St. Augustine
2-3" high prefers sandy
full/partial
Zoysia 1-2" high pH 5.5-6.5 slightly acidic
full/partial

 

The Grass Transition Zone

Grass Transition Zone Map.

The transition zone (green on the map) sometimes requires mixtures or blends of warm- and cool-season grasses. In general, the transition zone has more success with the cool-season grasses over the warm-season varieties.

Good to Know

Additional factors such as altitude, the amount of sun or shade, the amount of foot traffic and the availability of water may affect the success of a turfgrass variety.

Types of Grass

Bahia

Bahia is a tough turfgrass specially suited to the heat and humidity of the South. It has a rougher texture than most turfgrasses, but because of this toughness it can handle heavy foot traffic with ease.

Bermuda

Bermuda's aggressive growth habit gives it excellent weed resistance. That same trait can be a problem when Bermuda invades flower beds. Bermuda is wear-resistant and drought-tolerant. Overseeding with rye will provide a green lawn during winter.

Bluegrass

Bluegrass is the turfgrass of choice in cooler northern areas. The color and texture are exceptional with the right growing conditions. Sunlight, good soil and a regular water supply are key to a beautiful bluegrass lawn.

Centipede

Centipede is a tough, low-growing, low-maintenance turfgrass. It grows best in the acidic soil of the lower South. Centipede has a rougher texture than most turfgrasses, but with proper care it has excellent weed and pest resistance.

Fescue

The Fescue family has several members, including fine fescue, Chewings fescue, creeping red fescue, hard fescue and tall fescue. All varieties can survive cold winters well. Tolerance for heat, drought, shade and wear varies by variety, so check the label for details. All fescue responds well to a regular fertilizing and aerating schedule.

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass germinates quickly and holds up to foot traffic. Ryegrass is a common addition to cool-season grass mixes and the overseeding “wintergreen” option for warm-season lawns.

St. Augustine

St. Augustine is the turfgrass of choice in warm climates where sandy soil is prevalent. The blue-green color lasts into fall, unlike other warm-season grasses.

Zoysia

Zoysia prefers a warm, sunny and well-drained growing site. Zoysia takes more care than most turfgrasses, but when its needs are met, the reward is a lush, luxurious lawn.