Select the Perfect Type of Grass for Your Yard

Mon Sep 14 2015 | off-topic | sod

You've settled into your new home and have finally begun to think about your yard. Maybe you want a lush lawn for your kids to play on or a grassy area for your pets. You want your lawn to be healthy, beautiful, and low maintenance, and you know that drought in the area will make it difficult to water your lawn very often.

So you want a lawn-but which type of grass do you choose?

There are hundreds of varieties of lawn grass in the USA, most of them transported from other parts of the world and selectively bred to create disease-resistant, durable, and green turf. The type of grass you choose for your lawn should be suitable for the climate and meet your specific needs.

Acclimatized: Cool & Warm Season Grasses

The many American grass varieties can be sorted into two categories: warm-season grasses and cool-season grasses.

Cool-season grasses develop deep, healthy root systems in climates with hot summers and cold winters. They also grow quite quickly. These grasses can tolerate some drought during the summer but grow best with regular rainfall. Generally, cool-season grasses thrive in the northern half of the United States and along the West Coast.

The most common varieties of cool-season grasses are:

Rough bluegrass Kentucky bluegrass Bent grass Fescue Ryegrass

In contrast, warm-season grass grows beautiful, thick, and lush during the summer months, when sunshine is strongest and temperatures are high. But when the thermometer begins to drop during the winter months, these grasses become dormant and turn a yellow color. You can find warm season grass types most often in the South.

The most common varieties of warm-season grasses are:

Bermuda grass Buffalo grass St. Augustine grass Carpet grass Zoysia grass

It is important to understand that grasses grow best during different seasons, so get used to the idea now: your lawn won't look perfect every day of the year. But by selecting the right type of warm- or cool-season grass for your lawn, you can ensure that your lawn is lush and green as often as possible.

Best California Varieties

For California, Nevada, and Arizona residents, picking the right kind of grass can be a real challenge. After all, you need a grass variety that can survive on very little water and in extreme heat during summer months.

Read more about California's most common grasses below.

Fescue Grass

Fescue has narrow, deep-green blades, and can grow thick and lush. It is a low-maintenance grass that does not need to be mown or fertilized often.

This cool-season grass begins to reach a deep, lush green around November, when the rainy season starts. In the summer it will be dormant, so you won't have to water it much anyway. During the winter, you can weed, fertilize, and water your lawn heavily so it maintains a healthy green during the summer.

Fescue grass is the most common lawn grass in California because it absorbs water well, even during drought. But beware-fescue doesn't live long if exposed to dog urine.

St. Augustine Grass

St. Augustine is native to the Mediterranean and Caribbean, and thrives in subtropical climates. It has a beautiful bluegreen color and creates dense turf.

A warm-season grass, St. Augustine grows best in humid heat and survives drought nearly effortlessly. Because it grows quickly, it forms a thick thatch layer along the soil, so you'll need to aerate and water regularly so nutrients can reach the roots.

St. Augustine grass is quite aggressive, but it is practically indestructible. Many homeowners choose St. Augustine because it is both beautiful and durable.

Bermuda Grass

Another tropical plant, Bermuda grass loves heat and humidity. It handles high traffic well (which is why many sports fields use Bermuda grass) and is drought resistant.

Bermuda grass grows best in the summer and turns yellow in the winter. Some homeowners will sprinkle a different grass seed variety over Bermuda grass in the autumn so that the lawn stays green (this process is called "overseeding"). Bermuda grass also chokes weeds where it has been planted.

This grass is quite high maintenance-it takes a low of mowing, watering, and fertilizing to keep it healthy-but it grows quickly when planted and is easy to establish. Bermuda grass soaks up California's bright sun and reflects a beautiful light green.

Zoysia Grass

Originally from Southeast Asia, this grass is extremely drought and salt tolerant, which makes it perfect for California's coast. Its coarse texture and deep root system keep it healthy even with little water.

Zoysia grass does not do well in the cold, but it can grow quite well in warm and transitional climates. It can handle heavy traffic (including from pets) and grows in both sun and shade. Its flexibility allows it to grow a thick, lush carpet.

This type of grass grows very slowly, so you may need to be patient after planting it.

As you select the perfect grass type for your lawn, be sure to consult your turf specialist, who can consult you about the particular needs of your yard and recommend the right type of grass for your home.