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8 Different Types of Grass For Residential Lawns

 Nicely trimmed front yard with green grass in front of a house.

When people come to your home, naturally the first thing they see is your front yard. A vibrant and healthy-looking lawn is something every homeowner aspires to maintain, but it isn’t always easy.

Getting your lawn to a point where it is looking and feeling it’s best can be a grueling task if you don’t really know where to start. There are over a dozen different types of grass, and most lawns are a mixture of more than one.

It could be devastating to your lawn if you don’t do your research beforehand because you could end up choosing grass that would be nearly impossible to maintain, and you won’t even know why!

Could you imagine spending an entire summer, out in the blistering heat in the middle of your front or back yard trying to nurse your lawn back to health, only to realize down the road that you planted a type of grass that makes it almost impossible for it to survive in your geographical location?

Now, that is obviously an extreme example and I am sure there would be no local gardening stores selling grass that can’t survive where you live, but you get the point!

Understanding everything there is to know about grass, different grass types, what maintenance different types require and how to choose what is best for your location are all critical and will help you immensely in creating the lawn you desire.

Most importantly, pay attention to USDA Plant Hardiness Zones for any planting or gardening to be sure you are choosing options that are sure to thrive in your area. It’s time to put an end to the days of feeling embarrassed by your lawn’s presentation when someone pulls up to visit or when you’re having a backyard gathering.

Now you will finally know what it takes to choose the right lawn for your home, create conditions where it could grow and thrive, and be able to maintain your gorgeous lawn with ease.

Important Factors to Consider

Light

Depending on the type or grass or plants you are planting, different requirements exist for how much light exposure is needed for them to flourish.

Too much or too little sunlight could be detrimental to your plants and even result in plants starting to die if it does not comply with the required amounts.

Soil Type

Different grass or plants also require different types of soil or combinations of soil. If moisture is too low, it could inhibit growth of plants or grass requiring more moisture.

On the other hand, excessive moisture could be harmful as well and could breed fungus into your soil.

Fresh thick grass with water drops.

Temperature

Every plant has a preferred temperature range in which their growth is most successful. It is important to pay attention to the compatibility between the climate in your geographical location and the climate required.

Duration of Exposure to Cold Temperatures

Most plants have adverse reactions to excessive cold temperatures, but some are able to bounce back relatively quickly after a few cold months of winter.

Other plants can’t withstand any amount of cold temperature and it shocks the roots, resulting in the plants dying off.

Humidity

Although humidity is helpful to plants in many ways and might combat the effects of cold damage by keeping the soil warm and reducing moisture loss, too much humidity might require more watering to keep plants and grass well nourished.

If you are not sure what USDA zone you live in, find it HERE!

Types of Grass for Residential Lawns

1. St. Augustine

St. Augustine grass growing close to the curb.

St. Augustine is a “carpet” grass that grows a beautiful lawn that is relatively easy to maintain. It’s native to the Gulf Coast regions, West Indies and Western Africa.

It has a high heat tolerance but is not recommended for areas prone to drought. St. Augustine tends to flourish in warm climates where sandy soil is present. Unlike other warm-season grasses, it keeps its blue-green color all the way into the fall.

It is also commonly used for pastures because of its sense and coarse texture, even in shaded areas. Because St. Augustine grows via above-ground runners, it spreads aggressively and requires a lot of maintenance to keep it from getting out of control. Probably the biggest downfall is its vulnerability to pests and diseases.

PROS

  • Creates a beautiful lawn
  • Relatively easy to maintain
  • High heat tolerance
  • Will thrive in mostly any well-draining soil
  • Competes well against weeds

CONS

  • Doesn’t perform as well in areas prone to drought
  • Normal wear is fine, but has poor tolerance for excessive or repeated foot traffic
  • High maintenance because of how quickly it grows
  • Extremely vulnerable to pests and diseases
Season: Warm-season grass
USDA Zones: 8 to 10
Mowing Height: 2-3 inches
Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun; Some shade
Cold Exposure: Minimal exposure
Water Frequency: Not recommended for areas with drought
Traffic Tolerance: Does not handle foot traffic well
Soil Type: Adaptable to a wide range of soil types; Prefers sandy soil

2. Centipede

Closeup of freshly cut Centipede grass.

Centipede is a warm-season grass that performs best in acidic soils of the lower South. It grows low and is a very low maintenance turfgrass.

It is tough and has more of a rough texture than most other turfgrass and can combat weeds and pests relatively well. It is a good choice for your lawn in the right location and will perform very well with the proper care.

It generally requires less mowing and maintenance than other lawns and is easy to edge. It tends to have adverse reactions to hot, dry areas and could completely die if not consistently provided adequate moisture. It also requires less fertilizer than typical warm-season grass.

PROS

  • Resistant to weeds and pests
  • Low maintenance
  • Requires less mowing and is easy to edge
  • Requires less fertilizer

CONS

  • Rougher texture than most other turfgrasses
  • Will go dormant during a drought
  • Does not grow well in hot, dry areas
Season: Warm-season grass
USDA Zones: 7 to 10
Mowing Height: 1 ½ – 2 inches
Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
Cold Exposure: Minimal exposure
Water Frequency: Less than average
Traffic Tolerance: Average
Soil Type: Most types; Tolerates acidic soils

3. Fine Fescue

A clump of fine fescue grass with shining water drops.

Fine fescue is a member of the turf-type fescue family. There are many different varieties of fescue and they are all cool-season grass types that doing a very good job of holding their own during the cold winter months.

Wear tolerance depends on the specific type of fescue, so be sure to check the label for that information. However, fine fescue is tolerant to high traffic areas.

Fine fescues are most popular for their shade tolerance, but they do not tolerate heat and dry conditions very well. It requires less frequent mowing and will look great in almost any kind of soil in a relatively short period of time. Fine Fescue is most popular in Northeast to North Central U.S.

PROS

  • Tolerant to high traffic areas
  • High tolerance to shade
  • Very low maintenance
  • Can survive longer than normal with little irrigation

CONS

  • Does not tolerate heat or dry conditions
  • Its prickly, course nature may not be best suited for backyards or anywhere people might sit or lay, as it could be uncomfortable
Season: Cool-season grass
USDA Zones: 3 to 7
Mowing Height: 2-3 inches
Sun Exposure: Full sun; Partial shade
Cold Exposure: Above average tolerance for winter months
Water Frequency: Above average
Traffic Tolerance: High
Soil Type: Most types

4. Kentucky Bluegrass

Newly trimmed Kentucky bluegrass.

Bluegrass is generally a cold season grass native to North America, Asia, and Europe. It will grow well in the fall, winter, and spring, but can become dormant in the hot summer months. It can take in a lot of sunlight and remain fairly resistant but can also do well in the shade.

Bluegrass has many different varieties, so you have to be mindful of that if you plan on planting it in your yard. Some have different temperatures and weather tolerance and there are also varying mowing requirements with different types.

Bluegrass is a very popular kind of grass, especially because of its versatility and adaptability for many different locations and uses. It will be an exceptional choice with the proper growing conditions and maintenance.

All you need is enough sunlight, good soil and regular watering to keep your lawn looking beautiful. Kentucky bluegrass is probably the most widely used and most preferred grass type.

PROS

  • Adaptable to heavy traffic
  • Useful in a wide range of locations
  • Versatile in many geographical areas
  • Excellent color and pleasant texture
  • Can be blended with almost any grass seeds

CONS

  • Kentucky bluegrass will not perform well in deeply shaded areas
  • More prone to thatch
  • Requires a lot of water
  • Likely to go dormant quicker than most other grass types
Season: Cool-season grass
USDA Zones: 2 to 7
Mowing Height: 2-2 ½ inches
Sun Exposure: Moderate shade tolerance; Full sun
Cold Exposure: Does well in the winter and other colder months
Water Frequency: Water regularly
Traffic Tolerance: Moderate wear tolerance
Soil Type: pH 6.5-7 neutral

5. Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass with large leafed white clover.

Ryegrass is a cool-season grass and is a common addition to cool-season grass mixtures. It is often used in seed mixtures with Kentucky bluegrass. It has a quick germination time and holds up well to heavy foot traffic. Ryegrass could be easy to spot in a lawn because of the way it shines.

It is primarily found in cool-season areas of the north but may also be able to survive as far north as Minnesota and Wisconsin. Ryegrass is particularly versatile when it comes to types of grass because it can survive in almost any climate and is one of the only grass types that is recommended in all USDA zones. Ryegrass has both perennial and annual types.

PROS

  • Quick germination period
  • Holds up well to heavy foot traffic
  • Durable with good wear resistance
  • Can make a beautiful and vibrant, highly dense turf

CONS

  • Can’t survive in consistently warm temperature
  • Rarely used as a standalone grass
  • Unlikely to produce high quality lawn
  • Higher maintenance required
Season: Cool-season grass
USDA Zones: All zones
Mowing Height: 2-3 inches
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Cold Exposure:
Water Frequency: Average
Traffic Tolerance: High
Soil Type: Most types

6. Tall Fescue

Tall fescue grass

Another member of the fescue family, tall fescue can also be found in warmer climates due to its ability to tolerate excessive heat.

It is often used in athletic fields because of its ability to tolerate heavy foot traffic and excessive use. Because it grows in bunches, it may stick out and appear somewhat as a grassy weed.

Because of this, it is most often not used in grass seed mixtures. Tall fescue also has a higher than average tolerance for drought and although it tends to be more prone to mold and diseases, it usually recovers pretty easily when the weather becomes favorable.

PROS

  • Above-average tolerance to excessive use, roughness and heavy foot traffic
  • High drought tolerance
  • Makes beautiful, healthy-looking lawns

CONS

  • Grows in bunches, making it hard to mix with other grass seeds
  • Limited ability to self-repair
  • Susceptible to mold and diseases
Season: Cool-season grass
USDA Zones: 4 to 7
Mowing Height: 2-3 inches
Sun Exposure: Full or partial sun
Cold Exposure: Above average
Water Frequency: Above average
Traffic Tolerance: High
Soil Type: Most types

7. Zoysia

Top view of Zoysia japonica grass.

Zoysia is a warm-season perennial grass that could be successful in southern climates, but the further north you go, the more sun it will require.

It has the tendency to turn a yellowish straw-like color in extreme drought conditions, but overall is a fairly drought-tolerant grass type. Zoysia is very tolerant of a lot of foot traffic, so it could be successful in places like golf courses, playgrounds, and outdoor sporting events, which makes it the ideal option for heavy traffic areas.

However, when extremely damaged or overused, it’s potential for bouncing back is less than favorable. Zoysia is a hardy grass that successfully grows all over the U.S. on lawns, golf courses, playgrounds, and everything else in between.

One of the biggest downsides is its inability to hold its green color all year round. Typically, it will become dormant in the fall and turn brown until the spring. The biggest obstacle is getting it established the first time. The most successful method of getting it started is using sod or plugs as opposed to seeds.

PROS

  • Beautiful and durable
  • Can handle moderate shade
  • Well suited for coastal use
  • Lower than average irrigation needs

CONS

  • Hard to get it established
  • Mowing can be difficult due to the toughness of the stems and leaves
  • Can develop thatch
  • Grass can go dormant and turn brown from fall to spring
Season: Warm-season grass
USDA Zones: 6 to 9
Mowing Height: 1 ½ – 2 inches
Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
Cold Exposure: Minimal
Water Frequency: Extremely drought-tolerant; Favorable to subsequent irrigation
Traffic Tolerance: Excellent wear tolerance
Soil Type: pH 5.8 – 6.5; slightly acidic

8. Artificial Grass

Field covered in artificial green grass.

If you are looking for a picture-perfect lawn instantly without having to do all the work to get a natural lawn looking that way, artificial grass may be your preferred choice. No more long days in the hot sun cutting, fertilizing, watering, and weeding in your yard sounds like the perfect scenario, but is it?

Artificial grass has become increasingly popular over the last several years and much of the attraction has to do with the elimination of lawn maintenance.

According to Houselogic, synthetic grass has grown in popularity about 10%-15% each year in the U.S. Although the installation can be quite expensive, depending on the size of your lawn, it should be good to last between 15 and 25 years with little to no other expenses in between.

PROS

  • No more watering, weeding, fertilizing or cutting your grass
  • Save your body from exposure to excessive heat and labor
  • No need to use harmful chemicals, synthetic grass is eco-friendly
  • Picture perfect lawn that looks like the real thing
  • Lasts between 15 and 25 years
  • Saves on your water bill

CONS

  • Installation could be very expensive, depending on the size of your lawn
  • Lacks the ability to break down pet urine
  • Has the potential to become excessively hot in direct sunlight
  • Fake grass is banned in some areas

Final Tips

  • Take time to prepare your soil before laying down any new grass or grass seeds.
  • Know what works best before planting your grass. Some types are better started from seeds, while others perform better by starting with sod pieces.
  • Time of year for starting your lawn depends on the type of grass you choose. Generally, spring or fall are the best time for seeds and sod is more adaptable to being laid year-round in many locations.
  • Using a blend of a few different grass types for your lawn promotes a healthy, disease-resistant ecosystem.
  • Check what your location’s native grass type is before deciding. Native types will naturally perform well in your area.

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