Everyone wants a lush, green lawn that’s the envy of the neighborhood, but no one wants to work too hard at it! The secret lies in choosing the grass that suits your locale and climate. Sow the correct seed and, while you’ll have to put in some regular lawn care, you’ll stress less and enjoy your yard more.
It comes down to understanding different grasses’ unique growing requirements, maintenance needs, and resistance to wear and tear, disease, and pests. This guide will help you distinguish between the dominant types of grass and the species within each category so you can pick the ones sure to thrive and give you the curb appeal you crave.
An Overview of the Different Types of Grasses
Types of grasses found in the United States are broadly classified as either warm season or cool season. These labels indicate the geographic region with the ideal climate for the grass. Each region is further classified into humid or arid zones, with some zones being more hospitable to certain grasses than others.
Humid vs. Arid Grasses
While humid climates get a lot more rain and have higher levels of moisture in the air, arid climates are much drier. Because of these dramatically different growing conditions, the ideal grass types will vary between the two climate types.
The United States is a large country with varying levels of humidity and aridity. Because of this, some regions are better suited for growing humid grasses, while others will do best with arid grasses.
Below is a basic overview of the best grass type for each region of the United States:
- Northeast: Humid grasses
- Southeast: Humid grasses
- Midwest: Humid or arid grasses, depending on the location
- Gulf Coast and Deep South: Humid grasses
- Southwest: Arid grasses
- Pacific Northwest: Humid or arid grasses, depending on the location
- Transition: This area is more complex because the climate varies quite a bit from one season to the next. Some areas may do best with humid grasses, while arid grasses may grow better in other areas.
Warm-season grasses are ideally grown in midsummer at temperatures ranging between 75 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Once temperatures fall below 55 degrees, these species go dormant and turn tan or brown until spring returns. Because these types of grass originally hail from the tropics, in the U.S. they’re inherently better suited to warm climates of the Deep South and the lower southwest and southeast.
When thinking about how to overseed a lawn with a warm-season grass, opt for a cool-season grass for the winter months. Lawn overseeding with a cool-season grass will help ensure that grass continues to grow, even as the temperatures drop a bit in the winter.
Cool-season grasses flourish in temperatures ranging from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, making early spring and early fall their peak growing season in most climates. These types of grass are best suited for regions that experience cold winters and hot summers (Northern California, the Pacific Northwest, the upper Great Plains, the upper Midwest, and New England), and they’re hardy—likely to remain green throughout winter, except for periods of freezing temperatures.
Transition Zone Grasses
If you live between the north and south, in a region known among turf breeders as the Transition Zone, you can grow either cool-season or warm-season grasses. Among warm-season grasses, zoysia grass, Centipede, and Bermuda grass are winter-hardy enough to flourish in the transition zone. Similarly, tall fescue, a cool-season species, is suitable for the transition zone because of its drought tolerance and adaptability to a variety of soil types.
1. Warm-Season Grasses for Humid Climates: St. Augustine, Centipede, Zoysia, and Bahia
The sandy soil, brackish air, and high humidity of the Gulf states make for the ideal breeding ground for St. Augustine, a coarse, light-to-dark green textured grass, and Bahia, resembling a dense sod of tapered, dark green blades. Southern Californians can also find success growing St. Augustine grass. Along with Bahia, a light green, creeping grass known as centipede is commonly grown in the southeast, where rainfall is abundant, while zoysia grass, a highly drought-resistant grass with thick, soft, light-to-medium green blades, is more frequently grown in the South.
Warm-season grass species are prized for their ease of maintenance, with requirements typically limited to irrigation every 3 to 7 days, fertilization on a semiannual basis, and regular mowing to variable heights.
Growing conditions can vary among warm-season species. Zoysia, for example, can be grown in partial shade, while centipede and most varieties of St. Augustine grass require full sun exposure to thrive. Moreover, each grass type can withstand wear, disease, and insects to varying degrees. Zoysia is one of the quickest to mend itself, and is also resistant to weed infiltration. Centipede grass, though rarely plagued by disease or pests, is slow to mend after damage, making it less suited to high-traffic lawns.
Best For: Growing a lush, green lawn in a warm and humid climate.
Our Recommendation: St. Augustine grass can help you achieve a gorgeous and full lawn without spending as much as you would on other grass types, such as zoysia. St. Augustine grass is also easy to grow and requires less maintenance. Additionally, St. Augustine grass turns green in the early spring, rather than later in the season like some other grasses.
2. Warm-Season Grasses for Arid Climates: Bermuda and Buffalo
If you live in the Deep South, chances are you get enough sun to successfully grow either Bermuda or buffalo grass. Both varieties of grasses are desirable on residential lawns for their low maintenance and relatively strong resistance to drought, disease, and pests. But because both require full sun exposure for optimal growth, avoid sowing them in shady areas.
Bermuda is one of the rare warm-season grasses that can grow in both arid and humid warm climates. Its dense, dark green blades make it the turfgrass of choice for play areas. Moreover, the deep root system of Bermuda grass allows it to withstand and recover from heavy wear in areas where pets and children play. While the thin, softly colored blue-green turf of buffalo grass makes it a uniform-looking and attractive lawn option, the species is not well suited for high-traffic lawns.
Best For: Creating a healthy lawn in a warm and dry climate.
Our Recommendation: Bermuda grass is a good choice for yards that get a lot of traffic. It can be mowed down to a lower height and has a deep root system to protect it from damage. Bermuda grass does not require much water to grow, making it a drought-resistant variety.
3. Cool-Season Grasses for Humid Climates: Kentucky Bluegrass, Ryegrass, Tall and Fine Fescues
High humidity areas in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, and Pacific Northwest create prime conditions for winter-proof grasses such as dense, bright green to blue-green Kentucky bluegrass, shiny, finely-textured dark green ryegrass, moderately dense, medium to dark green tall fescue, or the deep green turf of fine fescue—boasting the thinnest blades of all lawn grasses.
While sowing a single cool-season grass is usually sufficient to maintain a green winter lawn, homeowners with high-traffic lawns can opt to grow two or more cool-season grasses together to achieve more wear-resistant turf. For example, ryegrass and fine fescue can grow in shade, while Kentucky bluegrass loves full sun—but if you sow the three species together on an area that receives a mix of sun and shade, the combination grass should do well, even if your lawn receives full sun or shade only intermittently. As a highly disease-resistant and pest-hardy grass, ryegrass can also serve to bolster the resistance of Kentucky bluegrass.
Annual or perennial ryegrass can also be planted over warm-season grasses. Using this symbiotic approach, lawns can maintain a lush appearance in winter, because when warm-season grasses go dormant, ryegrass stays green. Later, when the warm-season grass turns green again in spring, the ryegrass will die off.
Even when planted as single species, cool-season grasses require only moderate maintenance. Fine fescue can get by with irrigation as infrequent as once a week, and can even go without mowing for a more natural, prairie-like appearance. Kentucky bluegrass, however, should be watered weekly to moisten its deep root system.
Best For: Northern regions with cool winters and humid summers.
Our Recommendation: Ryegrass grows quickly, making it a good choice for northern states with a shorter growing season. It is also easy to maintain and holds up well to periods with little-to-no rain. In addition to being a suitable choice on its own, ryegrass can be used alongside Kentucky bluegrass and others for a full and lush lawn.
4. Cool-Season Grasses for Arid Climates: Canadian Bluegrass and Wheatgrass
Live in the cold and arid climate of the west or western Midwest? Canadian bluegrass and wheatgrass are among the types of lawn grass that may be your prime picks. These grass species can be cultivated in either shade or full sun.
Canadian bluegrass, aptly named for its bluish-green, canoe-shaped blades, is native to Eurasia. It is a particularly hardy grass and able to recover quickly from damage. This is one reason it can still be spotted in drought-ridden areas with poor soil conditions, where a less resilient grass couldn’t survive.
Canadian bluegrass is a low-maintenance grass. It grows quickly and does well on very dry or coarse soil. For this reason, you may even see Canadian bluegrass growing along roadsides, waste grounds, and in other less-than-ideal locations. Additionally, its lower growth rate and deeper roots make it an ideal choice for controlling erosion.
Wheatgrass, resembling a tuft of vivid green needles, can be prone to mold, but a moderate, dry climate with indirect sun exposure can help prevent fungus from forming. Wheatgrass seeds grow quickly and have strong rhizomes to help control erosion.
Like Canadian bluegrass, wheatgrass is easy to maintain and does not require frequent watering. Wheatgrass is also high in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, making it a good choice when feeding cattle. You may have even heard about the health benefits of adding wheatgrass to your diet, such as aiding digestion, lowering cholesterol, and boosting metabolism.
Best For: Drier and cooler climates with sun or shade.
Our Recommendation: Canadian bluegrass is a good choice for yards with less than ideal soil. This easy-to-maintain grass doesn’t require much water and grows well in areas of full sun or full shade. Once planted, it will grow quickly to help transform your yard.
5. Turf Grass
Turfgrass is a broad category that refers to different types of grass that require regular mowing. Many of the grasses referenced above are types of turfgrass. Turfgrasses can be found in different climates and regions of the United States and are typically categorized by the climate type. A few examples of turf grass include Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass, Bermuda grass, zoysia grass, St. Augustine grass, and tall fescue. In short, unless you use a grass alternative for your lawn, it is likely covered with a turfgrass.
Turfgrass is well-suited for heavier foot traffic. It is made up of narrow blades that fill in together to provide a more uniform and clean-looking lawn.
Turfgrass can provide a full, lush, and green lawn that is perfect for spending time outside or playing sports. However, turf grasses can be more difficult to maintain. They require regular mowing to keep the blades from growing too tall too quickly. Watering, fertilizing, weeding, and raking are also required to keep turfgrass looking its best.
According to the National Park Service, turf grass offers a range of benefits to the environment. It can help reduce runoff by decreasing how quickly water is able to flow. With these slower flowing speeds, the soil is able to absorb more water.
Additionally, well-maintained turfgrass can also help regulate the temperature in the air around the grass. It can bring down the temperature of the surrounding air with its cooler surface. When planted along a sloping barrier, turf grass can even decrease loud noises by up to 10 decibels.
Best For: Maintaining a full and green lawn even in areas of heavy foot traffic.
Our Recommendation: Tall fescue grass grows well in the transition region of the country, and can also do well in some areas of the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. It has a deep root system that makes it a drought-resistant turfgrass that won’t require much watering, even during its growing season.
6. Ornamental Grass
Ornamental grass is another broad category that encompasses different kinds of grasses, as well as a few plants that resemble grass. Though it can be used as a ground cover, ornamental grass is most commonly used to fill in other areas of a yard to add visual appeal to the landscaping.
Ornamental grasses can have different textures or colors than the turfgrass on the lawn, adding an eye-catching contrast. For example, Karl Foerster Reed Grass grows tan flower spikes during the fall that will remain throughout the winter, making it a great accent plant for a lawn or garden.
Some species of ornamental grass grow to be very tall, allowing them to act as a natural privacy barrier. Giant Reed and Giant Miscanthus grasses can both grow to higher than 10 feet. This taller height can also help block strong winds. Pampas grass is another type of ornamental grass that can grow to be quite large, with plants reaching up to 12 feet tall and 6 feet wide.
Not all ornamental grasses grow that tall, though. Blue oat grass, moor grass, and dwarf fountain grass, don’t grow more than 2 feet tall, which makes them ideal additions to rock gardens. (Bonus: They all also have pretty flower heads, too.)
The ideal growing conditions can vary from one species of ornamental grass to the next. However, as a general rule, most will do best in full sun in a well-draining soil.
Ornamental grasses are not meant to be mowed, making them a lower maintenance grass than most types of turf grass. For optimal new growth, cut most ornamental grasses back during the winter. Most ornamental grasses are also spared from diseases or insect problems.
Best For: Enhancing the landscaping of a lawn or garden.
Our Recommendation: Pampas grass can add a decorative and functional touch to your lawn or garden. This ornamental grass, which grows to up to 12 feet tall, is easy to care for. In the summer or fall, the grass will bloom with beautiful tan fountain-like flowers.
There are many different types of grass. The best grass for your area will vary based on whether you live in a humid or arid climate, the average and extreme temperatures in your region, and whether most of your lawn is in the sun or shade. Before you select a grass for your home, consider these factors to help make it possible for you to achieve that lush and green lawn you’re dreaming about.
FAQs About Types of Grasses
With so many different types of grass, it is possible you are left with a few remaining questions. The FAQs below can be a good resource to help you learn more.
Q: What is the most popular type of grass?
Kentucky bluegrass is probably the most popular type of grass in the United States. With a lush, dark green color and a softer texture, this grass can help users attain an attractive and healthy lawn.
Q: What are the main differences between zoysia grass vs. Bermuda grass?
When comparing zoysia grass vs Bermuda grass, there are few key differences. While zoysia grows well in both sunny and shady areas, Bermuda needs more sun to grow. Bermuda grass is more tolerant to constant foot traffic than zoysia and is less likely to become diseased or as negatively impacted by a drought.
Q: What does Bermuda grass look like?
Bermuda grass is made up of very fine blades with a true-green color. When planted on a lawn, Bermuda grass will offer full coverage for the area, making it difficult for weeds to pop up between the blades of grass.
Q: What is the softest grass?
Zoysia and hybrid Bermuda grasses are often considered the softest varieties.
Q: What are the main differences between tall fescue vs Bermuda grass?
One key tall fescue vs Bermuda grass difference is that Bermuda grass is a warm-season grass, while tall fescue sod is a cool-season grass. If left unmowed, Bermuda grass will only grow to be about 2 inches tall. Conversely, tall fescue may grow to be up to 4 feet tall. Bermuda grass has much thinner and finer blades compared to the wider blades of tall fescue.
Pick the species of grass seed that matches your climate and your yard's sun exposure. Also consider how much moisture your lawn will get. You may need a grass that resists drought. Finally, pick a type of grass seed that can stand up to the amount of foot traffic your lawn receives.What is the most common type of lawn grass? ›
Kentucky bluegrass is the most popular grass used for lawn in the United States, and for good reason. It creates one of the most high-quality lawns possible. Its soft velvety texture, deep green color and tolerance to heavy traffic make it one of the best choices for yards, sports fields and campuses.What is the best grass type combination? ›
A typing that goes all the way back to the first Pokemon in the Pokedex, Bulbasaur's Grass/Poison is one of the best type combinations involving Grass. The Grass-typing negates Poison's weakness to Ground, while Poison does the same for Grass's Poison-type weakness.Why grass types are the best? ›
That's because grass-type Pokemon are potent against a ton of types of Pokemon. Not only are their attacks against rock and water Pokemon super effective, they are also powerful against ground-types as well. That puts you at a distinct advantage when heading into battle against other Pokemon trainers.What kind of grass is easiest to maintain? ›
Fine fescue is the most popular low-maintenance cool-season grass. Hard fescue and fine fescue mixes require very little maintenance. You'll only have to mow your lawn once or twice a year. Fescues are hardy and they'll naturally crowd out weeds, so you don't have to worry about fertilizer, herbicide, or pesticide.What type of grass stays green all year long? ›
IT STAYS GREEN: Buffalo grass has the ability to retain its colour well over the winter period.Is it better to water your lawn every day or every other day? ›
You might think that watering a little bit every day is a smart approach, but you'd be wrong. It's better to water “deeply and infrequently,” Cutler says. About a third of an inch every two to three days is a good goal.What is the weakest grass type? ›
Generally, annealed is the weakest glass, followed by heat-strengthened (approximately twice as strong as annealed) and fully tempered (approximately four times as strong as annealed).What type of grass grows very fast? ›
Some of the fastest-growing grass types include Perennial Ryegrass, Annual Ryegrass, Fine-leaf Fescues, Kentucky Bluegrass, and Bentgrasses.Can you mix grass types? ›
A mix is when you combine two or more species of grass, such as bluegrass and ryegrass. This is helpful when you are choosing grass seed at a garden center or home improvement center. If your lawn is mostly one species of grass, you would want to purchase a grass seed blend.
Since many lawns have both sunny and shady areas, a blend of seed that includes both shade tolerant and full sun grass types can work well. A mix such as 40% Kentucky Bluegrass, 30% fine fescue and 30% perennial ryegrass works well.What type of grass will crowd out weeds? ›
Zoysia is ideal because it actually grows differently. It sends out runners or "stolons," expanding sideways more than it grows tall. This is why it is so dense and effective at choking out most summer weeds and replacing existing grass.Is cutting grass higher better? ›
Mowing high provides five valuable services: It makes scalping (turf damage from mowing too short) much less likely to happen. It allows you to clip about 30 percent of the leaf blade each time you mow (the optimum proportion). It promotes establishment of a larger root system, which is more drought tolerant.What is the toughest lawn grass? ›
The "toughest" grasses (considering only that characteristic) are the sports-turf grasses like common Bermuda, hybrid Bermuda or zoysia. These grasses have a trailing growth habit and handle heavy foot traffic better than cool-season grasses (like fescues).What is the most hardy grass? ›
Perennial ryegrass is the most durable variety of grass, so it is the most popular grass for golf courses in northern climates. This is a kind of grass with tough blades and a strong root system. As well, it withstands heavy foot traffic, is fast-growing, and is drought-resistant.
Burnt grass will typically not turn green again. The dead, brown parts? They are dead and will no longer green up. The only way to get green grass is to remove these dead leaves or patches and support the seeds, sprouts, or root systems that can produce more green blades of grass.Is Epsom salt good for grass? ›
Epsom salt is an organic compound that is full of beneficial minerals for lawns. Iron in Epsom salt, for example, helps grasses to grow healthy and strong. Meanwhile, the magnesium in Epsom salt balances the PH level in your grasses so that it doesn't become too acidic.Does frequent mowing thicken grass? ›
Mowing actually helps make your grass grow thicker because the tip of each blade contains hormones that suppress horizontal growth. When you cut the lawn, you remove these tips allowing the grass to spread and grow thicker near the roots.What does sugar do for your lawn? ›
'Sugar will help break down thatch, the layer of dead grass, and other organic material that can accumulate on your lawn over time, Lindsey says. 'This thatch can make it difficult for new grass to grow, but using sugar on your lawn can help break it down and improve the health of your lawn.
Some of the most common compositions include alfalfa, cottonseed or corn gluten meal; rock phosphate; cow or poultry manure; compost; earthworm castings; bone or feather meal; or even seaweed or kelp.What home remedy makes grass green? ›
Mix equal parts ammonia and Epsom salts, and disperse this mixture throughout your lawn. Ammonia is a great source of nitrogen, which will help your grass achieve a healthier, greener color; and the Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate, which will help your grass retain water, and reduce your lawn's thirst for water.How many minutes should you water your lawn? ›
The ideal watering schedule is once or twice per week, for about 25 to 30 minutes each time. Taking care of a lawn doesn't have to be an overwhelming, all-consuming task.How many minutes should I water my lawn per day? ›
How should the irrigation be scheduled? Water once a week for 42 minutes. Water twice a week for 21 minutes each day. Water 3 times a week for 14 minutes each day.Is it better to run sprinklers at night or morning? ›
Watering in the morning (before 10 a.m.) is the best time for your lawn; it's cooler and winds tend to be calmer so water can soak into the soil and be absorbed by the grass roots before it can evaporate.What grass is soft and fluffy? ›
Fine fescues, as the name suggests, have fine-bladed leaves and are among the softest and most lush grasses for bare feet.What type of grass is very fine? ›
The name "fine fescue" is actually a collective term for the various species of grasses in this group: red, chewings, hard, and sheep. Like the name implies, they are very fine textured with needle-like blades. Fine fescues are popular because of their shade tolerance.What is the fastest grass-type starter? ›
This may come as a shocker to some, but the fastest Grass-type Pokémon in the entire franchise is a final evolution of a starter. The Pokémon who holds this special crown is none other than Sceptile, the Grass-type starter from the third generation of games.
Does Grass Grow More at Night? No, grass does not grow more at night. Night or darkness itself does not cause grass to grow more than it would during the day. However, increased moisture and cooler temperatures can improve the growth rate of grass and many other plants in hot, dry climates or at the peak of summer.What makes grass spread faster? ›
One of the most effective ways to get your grass to grow fast is to fertilize right after you plant. For use on all grass types, reach for Scotts® Turf Builder® Starter® Food for New Grass, which helps grass grow up to 70 percent thicker and 35 percent more quickly (vs. unfed).
Grass growth reaches its maximum at a temperature of 50°F, which mainly occur during the spring months from March to May.What is the 1/3 rule in cutting grass? ›
To maintain good healthy grass, you need to mow it at the right height, and the right frequency. The rule that helps us figure that out is called the one-third rule, which means never remove more than one-third of the leaf tissue at any one time that you're mowing.What grasses go well together? ›
- Lagurus and verbena. ...
- Anemanthele, epimedium and box. ...
- Festuca, santolina and violas. ...
- Alopecurus, dryopteris and leucanthemum. ...
- Pennisetum and allium. ...
- Phlox and deschampsia. ...
- Alliums, molinia and poppies.
Applying fertilizer at the same time you seed your lawn is not a recommended idea. Many experts will tell you that doing so you could risk to destroy a large part of your lawn where the soil was heavily fertilized.› gardening › different-ty... ›
Best Types of Grass - How to Grow Grass
Types of Grass - The Most Popular Types of Lawn Grass
How To Figure Out Your Grass Type | Lawn Care Basics Series
Fine fescue is the most popular low-maintenance cool-season grass. Hard fescue and fine fescue mixes require very little maintenance. You'll only have to mow your lawn once or twice a year. Fescues are hardy and they'll naturally crowd out weeds, so you don't have to worry about fertilizer, herbicide, or pesticide.What are the four factors to be considered when selecting the grass to be used for establishing the lawn? ›
The type, health, pH levels, and care requirements of your soil are also important factors to consider when choosing turf.What type of grass is the easiest to grow? ›
Bermuda grass is the fastest-growing warm season grass, germinating in as little as 10 days. Ryegrass, which grows in cool climates, also germinates that quickly.What grass stays green the longest? ›
Fescue: Grass that Stays Green Year Round.What is the best grass to stay green all year? ›
Basically, Fescue is a cool season grass (that means it likes cooler temperatures, more appropriately, it melts in higher temperatures), so now is the time it should look good. Many covet their fescue simply because it is green year round, unlike its warm season grass counterparts that brown out in the winter.
Zoysia grass also makes for a durable lawn as it is resistant to weeds, insects, and diseases that would be bad news for other types of grass. Zoysia is an extremely aggressive spreading grass that can literally choke out weeds.What is the single most important factor in maintaining a good lawn? ›
SUNLIGHT. Sunlight is probably the most important factor for having a healthy lawn. You need anywhere from four to twelve hours of sunlight a day, depending on the type of grass you have. Your lawn care technician will let you know how much sunlight is necessary for the grass you wish to grow.What are the important things to consider when establishing a lawn from seed? ›
- Time It Right. Make sure you wait for the right time of year to plant new grass seed. ...
- Choose the Correct Grass Seed. Choose a grass that is right for your lifestyle, budget, and location. ...
- Test Your Soil (Optional) ...
- Prepare Your Soil. ...
- Even Out the Surface. ...
- Seed and Feed on the Same Day. ...
- Cover Up. ...
- Keep on Watering.
- Determine the Soil Content at Your Planting Site. ...
- The pH (Acidity) Level in Your Soil. ...
- Soil Depth in the Planting Area. ...
- Determine Your Light Exposure. ...
- Determine Your Hardiness Zone. ...
- Microclimate. ...
- Determine Your Water Source.
Some of the fastest-growing grass types include Perennial Ryegrass, Annual Ryegrass, Fine-leaf Fescues, Kentucky Bluegrass, and Bentgrasses.Which grass spreads fastest? ›
- Choose a grass that thrives in your climate zone.
- The fast-growing cool-season grasses include ryegrass, rough bluegrass, and tall fescue.
- The fast-growing warm-season grasses include Bermuda grass, centipede grass, and buffalograss.
Regular mowing – Regular mowing promotes lateral growth. If you don't let your lawn get too long, more sun can penetrate to encourage growth. Mowing in different directions – If you mow in the same direction all the time, the grass tends to stay pointed in that direction.