Our lawn grass can make all the difference in our immediate environment, as it keeps the soil healthy and the air fresh, reduces erosion, and even regulates the temperature in the area.
For our lawn grasses to perform these functions efficiently, not to mention improve the overall visual aesthetic when landscaping, we need to take proper care of them.
To ensure our plants receive the highest-quality care, we must learn how to identify every type of grass suitable for lawn use, their unique traits, and even how to maintain them.
In this article, we have all you need to know on the ten best types of grass for a beautiful lawn and other essential details when choosing the best lawn grasses for your needs.
10 Best Grass Types for a Beautiful Lawn
Lawn grasses are not just there to make our house lawns green or serve as an attractive addition to the landscape. It also offers the following environmental benefits:
- Breaks down organic chemicals
- Reduces erosion, flood, and noise
- Provides habitat for smaller wildlife
- Creates a cooling effect during warmer weather
So, without any further ado, here are the ten best types of grass to create an efficient and appealing lawn!
1. Bermuda Grass
Bermuda is one of the most common warm-season grass types, frequently found in the humid southeastern parts of the United States.
Bermuda grass is a welcome addition to any golf course or home lawn, as it can tolerate heat and drought. Aside from that, Bermuda grass is a cut above the rest for these reasons:
- Its ability to tolerate being mowed at a low height
- Its dense sod formation offers better erosion control
- Its capacity to grow in different soil types and textures (i.e., hard or shallow)
Drawing from our experience, the common Bermuda grass is a lawn staple that requires very little maintenance in terms of fertilizer and water.
However, we must maintain the proper mowing routine to allow it to retain its traffic tolerance. We must also maintain unimpeded access to full sunlight for it to remain healthy.
Maintenance: Low to medium
Color: Deep green
2. St. Augustine Grass
Another warm-season grass is St. Augustine grass, distinguishable by its very broad blades. Originating from more tropical environments, it is native to the southeastern parts of North America and Central America.
This grass type is one of the most popular for lawn use and has been utilized since the 1900s thanks to these factors:
- It tolerates shady regions and full sun exposure;
- It grows more quickly than other types;
- It grows in fertile soil.
However, it has low traffic tolerance, meaning it can’t survive being stepped on by multiple feet in a short period.
FACT: Floratam, a variety of St. Augustine grass, is usually found along the Gulf Coast.
Color: Dark green
3. Kentucky Bluegrass
Since then, Kentucky bluegrass has become widespread in the western United States, comprising 10% of the total vegetation. Most of its popularity is thanks to these attributes:
- Its dense turf (sod and roots) improves erosion control and offers excellent traffic tolerance
- Its digestible nutrients for livestock and wildlife
- Its ability to repair itself when damaged
After putting it to the test, this grass species performs much better in the cool season than other grasses with the same characteristics.
However, it’s less drought tolerant, requiring frequent watering when the full sun is out.
Color: Deep green
4. Centipede Grass
Centipedes aren’t just arthropods but also the namesake of a warm-season grass type called Centipede grass, which is popular in the southeastern US.
This grass provides dense turf with better water control qualities, making it erosion-resistant.
As per our expertise and first-hand experience, this type can handle soil types unsuitable for other grasses and can even work in low soil fertility.
Aside from that, Centipede grass is also known for these characteristics:
- Slow growing season
- Lesser mowing needed
- Requires lesser use of fertilizer
However, it cannot withstand heavy foot traffic and only develops into a healthy lawn when planted in scorching and dry areas with ample water.
Color: Light green
5. Perennial Ryegrass
A permanently-lush lawn, even in cooler climates, is possible through a cool-season variety called Perennial Ryegrass.
This type is known for its ability to germinate quickly, allowing it to suppress unnecessary weeds in the lawn. However, it requires frequent mowing due to its speedy growth.
Besides that, it has one of the best resistance levels when talking about moderate foot traffic or even heavy ones.
However, you must water and fertilize it to keep its beautiful shiny, deep green shade.
Maintenance: Medium to high
Color: Dark green
6. Buffalo Grass
This species in its genus has been widely recognized as a staple on golf courses.
As one of the warm-weather grass varieties, the buffalo has an impressive drought tolerance, which also speaks to how efficiently it absorbs water or moisture.
But, as we have observed, it is not receptive to heavy foot traffic and only spreads its lush dark green color in low-traffic areas.
Color: Dark green
7. Zoysia Grass
The warm grass varieties continue on this list with the Zoysia grass of the Zoysia species, acknowledged for its ability to withstand heat and heavy foot traffic and its exceptional drought tolerance.
In addition, this slow-growing warm-temperature grass variety can beautify your lawns even in extreme heat, as it remains green throughout.
However, it has a prickly texture, making some think twice about planting it. Also, it can quickly turn brown once cold temperatures kick in.
Color: Medium green
8. Tall Fescue
You can’t mention cool season grass types without the low-maintenance Tall Fescue, known for its adaptability, particularly in enduring hot and cold weather.
Additionally, the resilient tall fescue lawn type is more often seen in athletic fields than home lawns as it is efficient in heavy foot traffic and possesses the following characteristics:
- Adapts to both cold and hot temperatures (i.e., transition zone)
- Clay tolerance
- Prefers compact and moist soil
However, you must keep track of your mowing schedule as this grass variety is also prominent for its fast-growing capacity.
Color: Dark green
9. Fine Fescue
Where there is the tall and mighty fescue, another grass variety is peeking through on the other side of the spectrum – the fine fescue.
Fine fescues (including sheep fescue) are recognized by their fine textures, slender shape, and shade tolerance. Also, unlike tall fescue, fine fescues prefer sandy soils.
Low-maintenance fine fescue grasses thrive best in cooler places, especially for their needle-like leaf blades.
Most importantly, we have observed that fine fescues do not have the resilience of tall fescue lawns when it comes to foot traffic.
Color: Dull green
Bentgrass is known for its soft texture, especially on Northern golf courses. Also, we can spot bentgrass from afar through these characteristics:
- slender stems
- flat leaf blades
Aside from these physical manifestations, bentgrass is famous for its presence on golf courses and lawn facilities.
However, bentgrass needs a high level of maintenance, specifically in fertilizing, mowing, and watering, regardless of the season.
Color: Light green
What is a Grass?
We can always see different types of grass on our lawns and backyards when having picnics or passing by athletic fields. But what is grass?
Grass is known to be a low plant, usually having shades of green as the leaf blades’ pigment. It varies from light, dull, and dark green leaves.
Moreover, grass is not a single species, as the total grass varieties in its family are about 10,000.
Also, grass holds importance in different aspects of life; some of the things it can do are the following:
- Serves as a food source for animals
- Improves the soil’s fertility and structure
- Provides shelter for larvae, earthworms, and other animals
- Efficient in controlling erosion
- Elevates the beauty of the landscape
- Regulates the temperature in tropical climates through evaporation
Cool-Season Grasses vs. Warm-Season Grasses
There are two main types of grass depending on the growing season, warm-season grass and cool-season grass.
On the one hand, warm-season grass forms a deep root system and thrives from June to early September, when it is warmest in the US. Aside from that, warm-season types of grass:
- have high heat and drought tolerance;
- are most prone to winter dormancy; and
- usually have low deep shade tolerance.
On the other hand, cool-season grass forms between April and early July or late winter to early spring, depending on the cold region. Some of the characteristics of cold-season grasses are the following:
- Partial shade-tolerant nature
- Poor drought resistance (needs frequent watering during summer)
- Has small and clean seeds
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Grass Types
In choosing the best grass for our lawn, there are different factors you need to consider to achieve efficiency and to grow healthy types of grass.
Here are the factors you must always bear in mind:
- Purpose of the grass (e.g., visuals, golf courses that tolerate heavy foot traffic, or an average lawn)
- Weather and temperature extremes in the area (to identify if the grass is drought tolerant or cold climate tolerant)
- Level of maintenance needed (i.e., cost, time, mowing frequency, and height)
- Soil type, including the pH value and the nearby drainage system
- Shade tolerance
Are Mixed Lawns Worth It?
Yes, based on our experience with mixed lawns, which also coincides with this study, they are worth the price and hassle as they provide the following advantages:
- Maintain aesthetic quality and grass density longer
- More sustainable
- Reduces the need for pesticides
- Improves shade tolerance
We have also answered some of your frequently asked questions!
What is the Most Common Type of Grass?
Bermuda Grass and Kentucky Bluegrass are the most common types of grass we can find in the country, as they have low to medium maintenance levels.
Which is the Best Type of Lawn Grass?
All the listed types of cold and warm season grasses are the best type of lawn grass, including:
- Kentucky bluegrass
- Perennial ryegrass
- Buffalo grass
- Tall and fine fescue (and other fescue grass varieties like creeping red fescue)
As we have learned, there are different types of grass: cool or warm, dull or bright green color, and all with varying growing conditions and maintenance needs.
Regardless of which type you plant, it is best to know what they are and give the best possible maintenance and care they need.
So, let’s start factoring in the considerations, choose the best types of grass for our location, and reap all the benefits grasses can offer!
Other Lawn Guides from Planet Natural:
Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa’s work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.