Garden Basics: Top Turf
Types of grass for your lawn
Spring and early autumn are ideal times to lay new seed or sod, whether you're patching damaged areas or starting your lawn from scratch. If you're not certain of the best grass for your yard, here are the most common types and their noteworthy characteristics.
Bahia grass is a warm-season grass for the South. It's a coarse-textured, fast-growing, salt-tolerant, sun-loving grass that enjoys moist soil. Like many fast-growing grasses, bahia grass is quite susceptible to thatch buildup. Try not to mow bahia grass lower than 2 inches high.
A cool-season grass for the North, bent grass is fine-textured and deals fairly well with heavy traffic because it grows quickly. Unfortunately, bent grass isn't very drought tolerant and may be more disease prone than other cool-season grasses. Because of its fast growth, bent grass tends to build thatch. Mow bent grass no lower than ½ inch high, slightly taller in the heat of the summer months.
This warm-season grass is suited for the South. It has a medium texture and is tolerant of heat and salt, which makes it good for coastal areas. However, it's not shade tolerant and needs full sun. Bermuda grass is somewhat drought tolerant, though it may go brown. Mow no lower than 1½ inches high.
A sun-loving native grass with fine-textured, gray-green leaves, blue grama is extremely hardy and drought tolerant, but also relatively expensive. It doesn't tolerate heavy foot traffic well. Mow no lower than 2½ inches high.
A cool-season grass for the North, Kentucky bluegrass is one of the most common grasses in North America: It resists light traffic, but isn't particularly drought tolerant. Bluegrass can withstand colder temperatures than many other grasses. Mixing it with other cool season grasses, such as fescues or ryes, can be beneficial. Mow bluegrass no shorter than 2 inches high, and higher during the hottest weeks of the year.
Native to drier areas of North America, buffalo grass has fine-textured, gray-green leaves. Though expensive, it is drought tolerant and resists heat well (but not cold). Buffalo grass is rather slow to green in the spring. Mow buffalo grass no lower than 2½ inches high.
Another Southern, warm-season grass, centipede grass is medium-textured and grows more slowly than most other warm season grasses. It also doesn't like a lot of foot traffic. Centipede grass is not among the most drought-tolerant grasses, either. On the plus side, it performs in light shade and is fairly disease resistant. Mow 1 to 2 inches high.
The fescues include cool-season grasses (chewings, red, hard, and tall fescue) suited just about everywhere except the furthest North and the Deep South. Most tolerate a range of soil types, as well as partial shade. They also resist traffic well, and are generally drought tolerant. Mow fescues no less than 2 inches high, and bit higher during the heat of the summer.
Ryegrass is a cool-season grass for the North. It grows quickly, tolerates a bit of shade, and is more disease resistant than many other cool-season grasses. Mow ryegrass no less than 2 inches high, and a bit higher during periods of heat and drought.
St. Augustine grass
This warm-season grass for the South is a fast grower. It tends to have a coarse texture and good heat tolerance. Enjoying a moist soil (though it won't survive drought), St. Augustine grass tolerates some degree of shade. Mow no lower than 2 inches high.
A Southern, warm-season grass, zoysia grows in partially shaded spots, and tolerates more salt than many other grasses. Zoysia is very drought and disease tolerant, but is susceptible to thatch. It will brown when dormant in winter. Mow zoysia between 1 and 2 inches high.
Friday, June 24, 2011 7:02 AM
waht type of grass can be grown in sandy soil?
Saturday, June 25, 2011 1:27 PM
I have real sandy soil in Deer Park Wa. I too would like to know the best grass to grow, as i put over 20# of common grass seed over a 10,000 sq ft area with no possative results.
Saturday, June 25, 2011 2:10 PM
Yes, I have the same problem is there ant type of grass out there for sandy soil?
Monday, June 27, 2011 10:32 PM
I live in the alkali desert and need a grass that can tolerate the summer heat and draught, and the bitter cold winters. My gravely soil is only a few inches to a foot deep, hard pan below that. I tried Buffalo grass and it grew well but the local critters love it for dinner so much it is all but gone now. Should I even be thinking of grass?
Saturday, July 02, 2011 12:35 AM
what type is best for central valley calif.?
Tuesday, July 05, 2011 7:07 PM
what do you recommend for Albuquerque NM?
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 10:49 AM
The zone that you are in makes a difference, not just the type of soil (sand). In NE FL.( nothing but sand) St. Augustine is popular…does best in shady areas, but it's susceptible to chinch bugs, and just all around picky…We just replaced some of our lawn with Zoysia…mostly because of the drought tolerance… But the part of the country your in makes a lot of difference….
Can't help you in Ca. and NM….Not familiar with your area….Check with local ext.office or nurseries….
Thursday, July 14, 2011 4:38 PM
I live in Rockford, IL. I to have sand about foot under my grass. What type of grass would be good?
Saturday, July 23, 2011 3:23 PM
I live in Central Pennsylvania. It doesn't get exceptionally cold here and at some points in the summer everybody's grass dies. What type of grass would be good for this type of climate? I have never planted grass before, but will need to do so because of excavation.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 11:41 AM
why do grass die
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 11:42 AM
i live in winchester va what type of grass do we have
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 11:16 PM
wanted to let the people in California know that st augustine grows well there that is what my family has used for 50 plus years. they live near LA and Big Bear. hope that helps, they do water weekly though
Wednesday, August 03, 2011 12:03 PM
I just started planting Buffalo grass 2 weeks ago July 20th and it is now 2'' high by August 3rd. I water it daily at 5am. It has been above 100 degrees for 35 days now in Kansas.
Do I fertilize it in any way for winter? Or thicken it up more in the Spring again?.
Monday, September 05, 2011 10:48 AM
I live in St. Louis, MO. Our front yard is a mix of sun and shade (big pin oak in middle of yard). The grass in the shade is dying off. Which grass would be best. We have hot, humid summers here. Thanks for any suggestions you might have.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011 1:05 PM
I live in Northern VA, 25 mile outside of DC. My lawn is all sun, please tell me the best grass to plant. Every year it seems I have the worst lawn in the neighborhood. Any chance you can send directions on how to plant the grass?
Monday, September 19, 2011 7:44 PM
What kind of grass do you recommend for Anchorage, AK where we get wind and below zero or around zero for most of the winter?
Friday, September 23, 2011 7:38 PM
All that are wondering about types of grass to grow in their respective areas. My suggestion would be to go online and check for type sof grass that would be good in your zone with type of soil. Example : Type of Grasses, Sandy Soil, Zone 6 and zip code. You will find all sorts of pertinent information that should be printed out and kept for future reference
Saturday, May 05, 2012 8:51 PM
what type of grass grows well in shady areas with red clay dirt in South Central PA
Saturday, June 16, 2012 9:19 PM
My grass is in serious trouble. The front yard is just ok and takes a lot of work but the back...I hired a guy who put in rye grass and seems did not bother to do anything about the "pad" of clay before he put it down. Apparenlty they set it right on top and walked away with my check. I have been working on my yard for 6 years now and still cannot get past that clay. I am hoping some of you have some suggestions on what I can do.
Well, thanks for viewing and I hope to hear from you.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012 10:51 AM
Our lawn always need major work in the fall or spring. We live in Ballwin MO . About 2 to 4inches of topsoil the rest clay and rock. What do o recomend for it?
Saturday, July 21, 2012 6:15 AM
HELP. I live in North Central Texas. Clay Soil, Dry Hot Summers some sunny areas, other areas in pattial to deep shade. I've given up on growing grass in the deep shade areas; but am not all that upset over it. I'm going to put in meandering freeform pathways with nothing but shrubs around. I do have pleanty of grassy areas; but have lots of St. Augustine and I hate it. To me it just looks like a weed. And my major problem is my dog. He's no longer a pup but he doesn't know that. He's an oversized Jack Russell who gallops around the yard at unbelievable speeds. You literally can see the turf just flying as though it was on a racetrack under the hooves of galloping racehorses. So I need to find the most beautiful, most cold and heat and draught tollerant, most sun and shade loving, able to thrive regardless of soil type, very fast growing, thick SUPER GRASS, so hardy that it can thumb it's nose at a speeding Jack Russell. Got any ideas??
Friday, September 28, 2012 3:54 PM
what type of grass is needed in a ditch that times handles quite a bit of rain water runoff
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 8:20 PM
I notice that all of these grasses are well suited to areas other then where I live, which is the WEST. However, I do know that the Fescue types are found out here in California. I would have liked them to mention St. Augustine, which I find tolerates high traffic areas well, as well as pets. It is a good rugged grass and grows slowly. The one main thing I love about it is that it is easy to remove, compared to Bermuda grass! It does not seem to root as deeply as Bermuda grass. It loves the summer months and will spread when the air is warm. It does however not care too much for the cold, as it stops spreading out. The blades of this grass are thicker then most other grasses, but it had a beautiful green color! I have always preferred this grass with Fescues mixed in it. This grass will choke out other grasses like Bermuda, as I have seen it do in our yards, through the years! This grass does need to be de-thatched as needed. I would say that is the only negative thing about it. But I still love it. It is not a cheap grass. I find it easier to by a flat, when planting it and break it up into smaller pieces so it will spread out and make a nice durable lawn. You can also plant plugs as well and I also know they sell it as sod, but as I stated it is expense. Happy Gardening!
Please add a section on this grass! Thank You!
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 2:14 PM
got aldi's they have grass seed there that loves shade places and you will see results in 2 or 3 weeks
Hope this helped you
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 2:20 PM
oh and watter it well every day
and add more seed as needed