Grass types, there are so many different kinds. Which is right for your lawn?

Choosing the right grass types for your yard is an important decision. If you choose the wrong grass you will waste your time, money and will cause yourself heartache. It would be painful for you to spend your precious time preparing, planting and maintaining your grass only for it to die because you made a wrong choice on the grass you planted.

There are factors that dictate which grass types will thrive in your yard.

These factors are:

  • Your climate – Is it hot or cold? Is it dry or wet?
  • Desired maintenance level (mowing, watering and fertilizing) – Do you want a high maintenance or low maintenance grass?
  • Traffic patterns in your yard – Is it there for aesthetic purposes only or do you continuously have kids trampling across it? What are the traffic patterns in my yard? Obviously, if you have a lot of traffic such as kids playing on the grass, you want a denser more durable grass than if your yard is for aesthetic purposes only.
  • The landscape of the surrounding area – Is it a flat area or does it slope? For instance, if you have a slope in your yard, a low maintenance grass may be best. Low maintenance grasses do not require frequent watering, fertilizing or mowing.
  • Is my yard typically shady or sunny? As I have mentioned before, I have a big evergreen tree in my front yard. No matter how sunny of a day it is, the area under and surrounding the tree is shady. In order for grass to survive in this area, I have to make sure it is a shade resistant variety.
  • Your expectations of how your lawn should look throughout the different seasons of the year - Will bare patches bother me? What about dormancy during the summer and winter months?
  • Availability of different grass types in your area - Do I want to sod, use sprigs, plugs or seed? Which is the best value?
  • Match the grass type with the soil type - Is your soil sandy, clay or silt?
  • Know the different insects and diseases that are popular in your area and pick a grass type that is tolerant.
    The answers to these questions will determine which grass types you will have the most success with planting in your yard.

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The 5 major climates in the United States

Cool Humid - This region includes areas with mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers as well as areas with frigid winters and hot summers. In most areas there is about 30 inches of rain or more per year. This region encompasses the Midwest and Northeastern states. Depending on your exact location, soils tend to be alkaline or acidic. All cool season grasses (bluegrass seed, fescue seed and rye grass) thrive in this area.

Cool Arid - This region includes areas with mild, snowy to dry winters and warm to hot, dry summers. In most areas there is less than 20 inches of rain per year. This region encompasses the Plain States, the Northwestern States and Alaska. Depending on your exact location, soils tend to be alkaline or acidic. Cool season grasses (bluegrass seed, fescue seed and rye grass) thrive in this area.

Warm Arid - This region includes areas with hot summers and mild winters In this area, there is little to no rain throughout the year. This region encompasses the entire Southwest. The soil tends to be very alkaline and have salt. In this area, Bermuda grass seed is the most common grass type.

Warm Humid - This region includes areas with mild winters and hot humid summers. There is a lot of rain. This region encompasses the Southeast, the Gulf Coast and Hawaii. Depending on your exact location, soils tend to be alkaline or acidic. Warm season grasses (Bermuda grass seed, St. Augustine grass seed and bahia grass seed) are the most common grass types.

Transition Zone - This region includes parts of all of the other 4 regions. There are areas with hot summers and cold winters as well as areas that are either wet or dry throughout the year. Grasses that can tolerate extreme weather conditions survive in this zone. A mixture of bluegrass seed, fescue seed and rye grass (cool season grasses) and Bermuda grass seed (warm season grass) do well in this zone.

2 Types of Grass Categories

Grass types are separated into two categories: cool season grasses and warm season grasses.

Cool Season Grasses

  • They are adaptable in the northern regions of the country and also the coastal regions where there are short summers and cold winters.
  • Cool season grasses thrive best in areas where temperatures do no exceed 90 degrees fahrenheit.
  • They grow rapidly during the spring and fall when temperatures are between 60 to 70 degrees fahrenheit.
  • They do not tolerate salt.
  • They require more frequent mowing in the spring and fall.
  • The grass grows slowly during the summer and is known to go dormant in the heat and in a drought. Proper watering and cooler weather will bring the grass back.
  • In the winter when the ground freezes, the grass will go dormant and it recovers in the spring.
  • Cool season grasses are used to overseed warm season grasses. This keeps the lawn green all year long.
  • Cool season grasses are typically sold in combination with other cool season grasses. For instance, a cool season grass for "high traffic areas" typically includes a perennial ryegrass. A "shade mix" has a high percentage of fescues. Planting a combination of grasses makes your lawn less resistent to disease and insect infestation.

Common cool season grasses are bluegrass seed, the fescue grass seed (tall fescue grass seed, creeping red fescue, hard fescue and chewings fescue) and rye grass.

Cool Season Grass Products

Grass: Kentucky 31 Fescue 5 lb

Warm Season Grasses

  • Flourish in southern regions where there are long, hot summers and mild winters.
  • Growth spurts occur during the summer months.
  • The mowing frequency increases during the summer months.
  • The grass goes dormant and turns brown during the winter months. The grass may even die during this time of the year.
  • Warm season grasses often grow in clay and undesirable soils.
  • Warm season grasses are often overseeded with cool season grasses in the fall so the lawn is green all year long.
  • Warm season grasses are typically not sold mixed like cool season grasses. However, it is good to plant varieties of the same grass. Varieties also known as cultivars which are bred for specific characteristics. This helps increase the grasses level of resistence to stress and disease.

Common warm season grasses are Bermuda grass seed, St. Augustine grass seed, buffalo grass seed, zoysia grass seed and bahia grass seed.

Choosing the proper grass types is dependent on your climate, traffic patterns and the surrounding landscape in your yard. If you are still unsure which grass types are best for your lawn, you can always ask the clerk at your local nursery. They are usually in tune with which grass types work best in your local area.

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St. Augustine Grass - A warm season grass common in the Gulf Coast area.


Zoysia Grass - A warm season grass common from the Transitional Zone and south to the Gulf Coast.


Seashore Grass - A warm season grass common in areas with high salt content in the water as well as sandy and loamy areas. Frequently found near the sea shore.


Bermuda Grass - Common from the Transitional Zone and South.