How to Choose the Right Grass Type for Your New Lawn

Your new home is nearly complete, all you have to do is improve the exterior! That task starts with determining the right grass type for your new lawn. The right grass will make your home look sharp and neat. You might think that it’s a simple task. All you have to do is go to the store and pick up a few bags of grass seed, right?

Picking the correct grass type is actually a bit more complicated! Several factors must be considered to pick the right type. Not all grasses grow in all areas, and certain types require more maintenance than others.

Watering Needs

Is your area prone to droughts and water restrictions? If so, you want to select a grass type that handles these conditions well, such as tall fescue, zoysia, or buffalo grass.

Other grass types, such as Kentucky bluegrass, will require regular watering to thrive. That means you should only plant this grass type in areas that droughts are less likely to occur unless you want to spend time watering often. However, that can be tricky if you have water restrictions each summer!

Traffic Tolerance

You should always consider how much wear and tear your grass will experience when picking a type. Families with young children will spend more time running on the grass, chasing the dog and running through the sprinkler. These homeowners need a grass type that can withstand traffic.

Homeowners that don’t spend a lot of time on their lawn have more options. All grass types tolerate little to no foot traffic!

Warm vs. Cool Season Grass

Grasses fall into two categories: warm-season and cool-season. As you might guess by the names, warm-season grasses grow in warmer regions of the country, such as Florida and Alabama. This type reaches it peak growth when summer is in full swing, and most prefer full sun. A few will tolerate shade to an extent.  Examples of warm-season grasses include:

  • Augustine
  • Bermuda
  • Buffalo Grass
  • Centipede Grass
  • Zoysia

Northern-residing homeowners should consider cool-season grasses instead. This type of grass grows best when the temperatures are cooler in the spring and fall. Cool-season grasses tolerate shade better. Examples of cool-season grasses include:

  • Fine Fescue
  • Tall Fescue
  • Red Fescue
  • Perennial Ryegrass
  • Kentucky Bluegrass

When you choose the right grass type for your new lawn, you want to make sure you pick the right grass season for your location. Planting a warm-season grass in New York won’t create the lawn you want.

If you live in the transition zone, picking can be even harder. The transition zone has hot summers and cold winters, so picking the right grass seed is challenging. Tall fescue is a great pick for the transition zone because it can tolerate both cold and heat, plus it stays green most of the year.

Weed and Disease Tolerance

No one likes dealing with weeds or diseases, but both can attack your beautiful lawn. Picking the right one ensures neither become a true problem. Most homeowners find that a blend of grass seeds that work for their area tend to also be disease resistant. If your lawn is stressed due to the climate or conditions it’s exposed to because it doesn’t belong in that lawn, it will be more likely to become infected with a disease.

Different grasses are affected by different diseases, but some have more issues than others. In general, fescue grasses (all types) tend to have the lowest resistance to diseases. On the other hand, ryegrasses and bluegrasses are the most resistant.

Weeds can become an issue in any lawn. The best time to stop weeds from invading your lawn is at the start of the active growing period. Grasses that germinate and establish quickly can suffocate and kill weeds with ease. Perennial ryegrasses are fast at germinating.

Location

Aside from looking at your location on the map – north or south -, you should also consider the location of your house. Do you have a lot of shade or sun in your yard? Different grass types are necessary for differing levels of shade. Most grasses prefer and crave sun, requiring at least six hours of direct sunlight to grow well.

If you have a lot of shade all day long, you will want a specialized, shade- tolerant grass that only needs partial shade or four hours of dappled sun. Your warm-season grass choices are zoysia and St. Augustine, and cool-season grass choices are perennial ryegrass, fine fescue, and tall fescue. Ideally, the best blend will contain multiple types of shade-tolerant grasses. Making a blend ensure at least one of these will work.

Maintenance and Upkeep Difficulty

All grass types require some maintenance and upkeep. Depending on the time you have available, you might want a grass type that requires little upkeep.

First, look at how often you need to mow the grass. Some grass types, such as fescues, have a higher ideal mowing height, so you won’t need to mow as often. Native grasses tend to require the lowest amount of mowing. If you live in a warm-season region, buffalo grass is one of the best picks. Centipede and Bermuda require even more mowing!

You should also consider fertilization. Look into the fertilization needs of each grass type. Some turfs need more frequent fertilization than others.

A Quick Glance at Grass Types

Warm Season Grasses

Grass TypesIdeal Mowing HeightTraffic IntoleranceSunlight Requirement
Bahia Grass2 to 2.5 inchesModerateFull/Moderate
Bermuda Grass1.5 to 2 inchesHighFull
Centipede1.5 to 2 inchesLightFull/Partial
St. Augustine2 to 3 inchesHighFull/Partial
Zoysia1 to 2 inchesHighFull/Partial

Cool Season Grasses

Grass TypeIdeal Mowing HeightTraffic ToleranceSunlight Requirement
Bentgrass½ to 1 inchLightFull
Bluegrass2 to 2.5 inchesLightFull
Perennial Ryegrass2 to 3 inchesHighFull
Fine Fescue2  to 3 inchesLightFull/Shade
Tall Fescue2 to 3 inchesHighFull/Partial

Choosing the Right Grass Type

Picking the right grass type for your new lawn requires a few steps. Make sure you consider your location and the climate. Then, think about what you want in your grass! Perhaps you want it to be able to tolerate traffic and disease well, but you are okay with extra maintenance. There is no one perfect grass type, but there is a perfect type for your house!

Jackie Greene is a WikiLawn blogger, gardener, and nutrition enthusiast. She enjoys creating organic meals for family and friends using the fresh ingredients she produces from her backyard homestead.

Reply