How to Choose Zone Friendly Grass

The right grass coupled with correct care will ensure that your lawn is as lush and luxuriant as it can be.

For Every Turf There is a Season

Turf grasses are classified as cool- or warm-season types, which tell you when and where the grasses grow best. Compare grasses' characteristics to determine which ones suit your lawn. Look on grass seed packages for key words such as "sun", "heavy traffic" and "fine texture".

Types of Grass
Kentucky Bluegrass
Perennial ryegrass
Fine fescue
Tall fescue
Zoysia grass
Buffalo grass
Bermuda grass
St. Augustine grass
Centipede grass
Season Texture Germination Shade Tolerance Drought Tolerance Traffic Resistance Optimum Height Other
cool fine slow fair fair good 1 1/2-2 1/2 inches goes dormant during drought and winter
cool medium-coarse fast good good excellent 1 1/2-2 1/2 inches poor tolerance of extreme heat and cold
cool fine medium-slow excellent excellent fair 1 1/2-2 1/2 inches good for sun and shade
cool-warm medium-coarse medium-slow excellent good excellent 2 1/2-3 1/2 inches newer varieties have finer texture; low maintenance
cool-warm fine-medium slow; use plugs or sod good good good 1-2 inches turns brown in winter; dense; resists weeds; disease and insects
warm fine medium; use plugs poor excellent excellent 2-3 inches blue-gray; turns brown in hot and cold extremes; grows slowly to 4 inches
warm fine slow; use plugs or sod poor excellent excellent 1-2 inches best in the South; some aggressive varieties
warm coarse slow; use plugs or sod excellent poor fair 2-3 inches poor cold tolerance; good in humid climates
warm medium-coarse medium; use plugs or sod good good poor 1 1/2-2 1/2 inches grows to 4 to 5 inches; low maintenance


  1. Claim Your Turf: Determine what you want to use your lawn for.
    • Do you want your yard to look good from the house and curb?
      • Plant varieties of grass that produce a thick, dark-green expanse.
      • The lawn can add 5 to 15% to your home's value.
    • Does your yard serve as the neighborhood football field, a playground for kids, or a place for the dog to play?
      • Dense turf offers one of the safest playing fields
      • Soil of this yard should be aerated every fall due to heavy use
    • Do you use your lawn as an outdoor retreat or a place to entertain?
      • Use finer textured grasses that allow you to relax

  2. When you plant a new lawn or rejuvenate an existing one, choose from sod, plugs or prepackaged grass seed (individual types or combinations) that will work well for you.

  3. Determine if you live where cool- or warm-season grasses would be the best choice. Cool-season grasses are adapted to the North while warm-season grasses are adapted to the South. If you live in a transition zone, cool- or warm-season grasses will grow well.

  4. Make sure the grass varieties in your lawn fit the growing conditions of your home's landscape. Consider the seasonal climate, sun and shade exposure, likelihood of drought and foot traffic.
  5. Compare grasses on the basis of these characteristics:
    • Disease and pests: Select grass types that will resist the disease and pests in your area.
    • Sun-shade adaptability: Ensure your grass will get the amount of sun it needs to grown and survive.
    • Permanence: Most grasses continue to live and grow year after year. Annual grass may be planted for winter color in a warm climate.
    • Wear tolerance: Coarse-textured grasses recover from heavy use better than fine types. Select a grass type that is drought tolerant and doesn't require supplemental watering.
    • Maintenance: Correct mowing practices will alleviate many turf problems. Mowing frequently with a level mower deck will encourage a healthy, green lawn.

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