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The Best Grass for Every Region

Updated Dec 2, 2022

Updated Dec 2, 2022

Home > Lawn > The Best Grass for Every Region

Are you looking for fresh, green grass for your home’s lawn? Choosing a turfgrass suited to your specific region and climate is crucial to your search.

Many homeowners don’t know how many types of grass grow across the United States, but the answer is thousands! Luckily, you won’t have to sift through countless grass seed types to understand which will work best for your lawn. We’ve compiled a guide to the best grass types for every region so you can find a winner no matter where you call home.

Choosing the Best Type of Grass for Your Region

Choosing the best type of grass for your home lawn is a relatively straightforward process that involves:

  • Determining your seasonal zone
  • Assessing your climate
  • Considering your willingness to perform maintenance

When it comes to grass types in the United States, the country is subdivided into seasonal zones that determine which grass types will grow best there. The figure below provides a rough illustration of where each zone ends and the next one begins. Keep in mind that the Transition Zone is largely subjective, depending on the annual climate trends of each state in that section.

United States seasonal zone map for growing grass

After determining where your home falls in the seasonal zone map, work to better understand your region’s climate trends throughout the year. For example, maybe your region has milder winters than other states, or perhaps it receives higher rainfall than neighboring regions. These characteristics can help you decide what kind of turfgrass will thrive best on your home lawn.

Lastly, consider what kind of maintenance you’ll perform throughout the year to keep your yard lush and green. Some turfgrasses are fussy – even in their native regions. They may require extra care when it comes to watering, fertilization, and mowing. If these tasks aren’t in your realm of capabilities, seek a grass type that’s low-maintenance and hardy through multiple seasons.

Warm-Season Grasses

Warm-season grasses thrive well in temperatures between 75°F and 90°F. These grasses get their drought and heat tolerance from a history in tropical climates where scorching heat and inconsistent rain prevailed year-round. In U.S. regions with cool fall and winter seasons, these grasses enter dormancy, often becoming crispy and brown. Once the warmth of spring comes back around, they perk back up and turn green.

Let’s look at some of the most common warm-season grasses for home lawns.

Bermuda Grass

Many warm climate homeowners favor Bermuda grass for its drought resistance, heat tolerance, and ability to withstand heavy foot traffic. This grass type establishes a deep root system able to withstand children, pets, and guests moving across its surface. This extensive root growth – which can range from 6 inches to 6 feet under the soil – also aids its ability to withstand environmental factors like blustery winds and pounding rains.

Climate PreferencesNative to tropical and subtropical climates worldwide, Bermuda grass is well-equipped to handle hot, humid summer months. This grass type doesn’t fare well in cold regions, limiting its use in northern U.S. lawns. Otherwise, Bermuda grass is a top choice for warm-season zone lawns from coast to coast.
Drought ToleranceHigh
Shade/Sun NeedsPartial shade to full sun
Foot Traffic ToleranceHigh
Germination Rate10 to 30 days

St. Augustine Grass

St. Augustine grass is a warm-season variety popular in the hot, humid climate of the Southern United States. It’s the most popular warm-season grass in the Gulf States, largely due to its heat hardiness and rich blue-green color.

Don’t look for seeds if you’re on the hunt for St. Augustine grass for your yard. Due to a low seed production rate, this grass type grows more reliably from sod and pre-germinated plugs.

Climate PreferencesSt. Augustine’s optimal growing season is in the late spring and summer when temperatures remain between 80°F and 100°F. It’s the least cold-tolerant warm-season variety and will enter dormancy throughout fall and winter.
Drought ToleranceModerate
Shade/Sun NeedsFull
Foot Traffic ToleranceHigh
Germination Rate7 to 14 days

Zoysia Grass

Although Zoysia grass is officially coined a warm-season grass, many people refer to it as a transitional turfgrass for its ability to flourish in areas where other warm-season types get fussy. Zoysia’s durability is largely due to its light green color and dense root system that keeps it cool and retains moisture during dry spells. Many homeowners select a turfgrass mixture of Zoysia grass and another warm-season type to keep their yards thriving through several seasons.

Climate PreferencesZoysia grass prefers sustained humidity and temperatures above 70°F for optimal growth. However, it can tolerate occasional temperature drops in the fall and spring. Zoysia grass can tolerate lower temperatures than its fellow warm-season grasses, making it a solid option for Transitional Zone lawns.
Drought ToleranceHigh
Shade/Sun NeedsFull sun
Foot Traffic ToleranceModerate
Germination Rate14 to 21 days

Bahiagrass

Bahiagrass is a warm-season variety known for its drought and heat tolerance. This grass type is so low-maintenance that it’s often chosen for areas like roadsides and medians that receive little to no care throughout the growing season. This turfgrass won’t spread aggressively once planted but will instead form a thick, lush carpet of green grass.

Climate PreferencesBahiagrass is primarily suited for Southern coastal areas with sandy soils and frequent dry spells. It won’t bode well in areas with cold weather and will enter dormancy if temperatures drop too low. Bahiagrass works best in the Gulf Coast region, which most accurately mimics its native South American climate.
Drought ToleranceHigh
Shade/Sun NeedsFull sun
Foot Traffic ToleranceLow
Germination Rate25 to 30 days

Centipede Grass

Centipede grass is a low-maintenance variety perfect for year-round warm climates. It produces a bright green hue and luscious appearance even in poorly fertilized soil, earning it the nickname “Lazy Man’s Grass.” This turfgrass does well in fast-draining, sandy soils that prevent other grass types from absorbing enough water.

Climate PreferencesCentipede grass, like bahiagrass, is best suited for hot, tropical-like conditions. It can handle high, sustained temperatures, wet conditions, and short periods of drought. Centipede grass is a popular choice in the Southeastern United States, where hot weather and poor soil conditions are common in home lawns.
Drought ToleranceModerate
Shade/Sun NeedsFull sun
Foot Traffic ToleranceLow
Germination Rate10 to 28 days

Buffalograss

Buffalograss is a prairie grass species native to the American Great Plains. This turf type is acclimated to scorching summers, bitter winters, high winds, and infrequent rainfalls, making it a hardy option for warm-season lawns. This variety may struggle to survive outside its natural habitat, where heavier rain conditions and poorly drained soils drown its dense roots. However, it’s a fantastic choice for homeowners seeking an incredibly low-maintenance turfgrass in drought-prone areas.

Climate PreferencesBuffalograss is native to the Warm-Season Zone and will enter dormancy during winter. This grass grows best when planted in the late spring to early summer when the soil is warm and relatively dry.
Drought ToleranceHigh
Shade/Sun NeedsFull sun
Foot Traffic ToleranceModerate
Germination Rate14 to 30 days

Cool-Season Grasses

Cool-season grasses are well suited to extreme temperature fluctuations throughout the year. They thrive best in temperatures between 60°F and 75°F, so spring and fall are their main growing seasons. Cool-season types grow in the upper two-thirds of the United States, encompassing the Transition and Cool-Season Zones.

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass is a common cold-season turfgrass used in Northwest golf courses and residential lawns alike. This grass takes root quickly, making it a fantastic choice for homeowners seeking erosion control and bright green lawn.

This grass is also good for Transition Zone lawns needing a little life in the fall and winter. Overseed your fall lawn with ryegrass seeds to watch the dead, brown patches erupt with color even in the cool months.

Climate PreferencesPerennial ryegrass is generally intolerant of extreme temperatures on both ends of the spectrum, making it well suited for transition zones and more temperature cool-season regions. It’s often sold in mixtures with other hardier grass varieties.
Drought ToleranceLow
Shade/Sun NeedsPartial shade to full sun
Foot Traffic ToleranceHigh
Germination Rate5 to 10 days

Annual Ryegrass

Annual ryegrass is known for its aggressive, quick germination and ability to take deep root in a wide range of soil conditions. Many homeowners sow this variety on hills and sandy soils to quell erosion. Annual ryegrass completes its life cycle in one growing season, which means it’s not a long-term turfgrass option. Instead, you should use this cool-season grass to overseed your fall or winter lawn.

Climate PreferencesLike its perennial cousin, annual ryegrass doesn’t fare well in extremely hot or cold temperatures. This grass type thrives best in temperate northern summers and southern winters.
Drought ToleranceLow
Shade/Sun NeedsFull sun
Foot Traffic ToleranceHigh
Germination Rate5 to 10 days

Tall Fescue

Tall fescue is a versatile grass able to grow and thrive in various climates. It’s known as the cool-season grass with the highest tolerance for heat, drought, and foot traffic, so it’s a hardy option for many homeowners – especially those seeking a low-maintenance lawn. According to the Iowa State University Extension, watering as few as three to five times during the summer may be more than sufficient for a healthy fescue lawn.

Climate PreferencesTall fescue grass is well suited to the cold climates of the North. However, it’s also able to handle the transitionary regions of the South where other cool-season grasses overheat.
Drought ToleranceHigh
Shade/Sun NeedsPartial shade to full sun
Foot Traffic ToleranceHigh
Germination Rate7 to 12 days

Fine Fescue

Fine fescues are a family of fescue varieties known for their exceptionally thin blades and soft leaf texture. These grasses have high shade tolerance, making them a great choice for areas that receive little sunlight. Many seed retailers include fine fescues in cool-season grass mixtures to add delicate texture and prompt germination to versatile lawns. Fine fescues also do well in mountainous regions with rocky soil and sloped elevations.

Fine fescue may not be the best choice if your lawn’s grass is subject to high traffic from kids, pets, and guests. Their thin blades are at higher risk of breakage, matting, and damage from repeated pressure.

Climate PreferencesFine fescues have extremely delicate blades that won’t survive in scorching temperatures. For this reason, you should avoid this grass type if your yard receives hot direct sunlight most days. Fine fescue does best when seeded in the early autumn in regions north of the Transition Zone.
Drought ToleranceModerate
Shade/Sun NeedsPartial to full shade
Foot Traffic ToleranceLow
Germination Rate5 to 12 days

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass (KBG) is characterized by its dark green color and aggressive spreading habit. This grass type spreads underground via shallow rhizomatous root systems, producing a thick, soft turf. KBG is a cool-season perennial that reappears yearly during the brisk parts of fall and spring. Despite its natural growth cycle occurring during more temperate seasons, Kentucky bluegrass is considered the most cold-hardy cool-season turfgrass.

Climate PreferencesKentucky bluegrass’s high cold tolerance and winter hardiness make it great for northern lawns. KBG thrives best in northern regions with moderate summers and winters, though it’s highly capable of surviving cold winters.
Drought ToleranceLow
Shade/Sun NeedsLight shade to full sun
Foot Traffic ToleranceHigh
Germination Rate14 to 30 days

Closing Thoughts

Now that you understand which types of grass grow best in which climates, you can get to work finding the perfect choice for your lawn. Remember that each grass variety varies in water needs, sunlight preference, and germination rate, so there are several factors to consider before sowing.

No matter which option you choose, know that any lawn project is a work in progress. If one season doesn’t yield a bright, green lawn, you’ll have an endless cycle of seasons to pull up your sleeves and try again.

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