When the Grass Is Greener: Picking the Best Grass for Your Yard

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated April 21, 2022
Father and son playing with their dog
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For a lush lawn, consider climate, soil, water, and sunlight

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A lush yard doesn’t just look nice. Feeling soft grass under your foot can help you relax at the end of the day, and kids will make memories running through the vibrant green yard all summer long. But achieving a healthy lawn involves more than mowing to the right height or knowing how to water grass on schedule. It all comes down to finding the best grass type for your yard.

6 grass types to consider, including Kentucky bluegrass, St. Augustine grass, and Bahia grass

1. Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky Bluegrass grass
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Kentucky bluegrass is a popular choice for those in the northern U.S., around hardiness zones 2 through 7. Despite the name, this grass presents a deep vibrant green that maintains its hue throughout the colder weather. In the heat of summer, keep up on watering, as drought will quickly make it go dormant.

  • Type: Kentucky bluegrass is a cool-season grass.

  • Region: This type of grass fares best in cooler, northern climates. It’s native to North America, Asia, and Europe.

  • Soil: It needs neutral soil with a pH of 6.5–7. If soil tests show more alkalinity or acidity, use fertilizer to help this grass thrive.

  • Sunlight: Kentucky bluegrass loves sunlight but will tolerate some shade.

  • Mowing: Let this grass grow a little taller, mowing it to about 2 1/2 inches high to protect the shallow roots better.

  • Traffic: This type of grass tolerates light to moderate foot traffic.

2. Tall Fescue Grass

Tall fescue grass
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While it’s suitable for the same hardiness zones as Kentucky bluegrass (zones 2 to 7), tall fescue grass can tolerate less favorable growing conditions, making it ideal if you don’t have much of a green thumb. It can also grow in transitional regions that work for both cool- and warm-weather plants.

  • Type: Tall fescue grass is a cool-season grass and it’s sometimes considered transitional as well.

  • Region: Native to Europe, tall fescue grows best in northern regions.

  • Soil: This hardy grass will tolerate most types of soil, ideally with a pH of 5.5–7.5.

  • Sunlight: The grass prefers partial shade to full sunlight.

  • Mowing: Mow tall fescue to about 3–4 inches high.

  • Traffic: Tall fescue has deep roots and grows in clumps, making it durable in high foot traffic. Go ahead, kick off your shoes, and run through the lawn!

3. Zoysia Grass

Zoysia grass in garden
Photo: Brittney / Adobe Stock

If you’re lawn-obsessed, zoysia is the grass for you. Ideal for transitional areas, this grass requires a little more attention and care, but the rewards (thick, bright-green grass) speak for themselves. It tolerates drought or regular watering, shade, or sun, but regular mowing is a must. This type of grass also looks best with well-manicured lawn edging.

  • Type: Zoysia is a transitional grass seed that grows in hardiness zones 6–9.

  • Region: Zoysia can grow in the north but will require more sun, or in the south with partial shade and regular irrigation.

  • Soil: Keep soil slightly acidic with a pH of 5.8–6.5.

  • Sunlight: This grass prefers full sun, especially in northern regions, but also tolerates partial shade.

  • Mowing: Clip zoysia to a height of about 1 1/2–2 inches.

  • Traffic: Your family can enjoy running, rolling, and playing in zoysia, which tolerates high traffic.

4. Buffalo Grass

Buffalo lush green grass
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Another transitional pick, buffalo grass is a durable option for lawns plagued by drought. It needs little in the way of mowing, so you’ll spend less time sweating and pushing the mower around this summer. It might not be as bright green as some other grass types, but it offers a more natural look that pairs well with ornamental grasses and wildflowers.

  • Type: Buffalo grass is a transitional grass type that grows best in zones 4 and higher.

  • Region: This grass is native to the Great Plains and works mostly in warm regions with some tolerance in cooler climates.

  • Soil: Maintain a soil pH of 6–7.5.

  • Sunlight: Seed buffalo grass in sunny areas, as it doesn’t tolerate shade very well.

  • Mowing: Untouched, this grass will grow up to 10 inches high. If wilderness isn’t the look you’re going for, aim for 2–3 inches in height.

  • Traffic: Tread lightly, as buffalo grass doesn’t tolerate much foot traffic.

5. St. Augustine Grass

St. Augustine grass
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A popular choice in the South, St. Augustine is a warm-season grass that needs little care. It features a coarse texture and offers thick coverage for your lawn. Although this southern grass can handle a lot of heat and even sandy soil, it still needs plenty to drink to look its best.

  • Type: St. Augustine is a warm-season grass.

  • Region: This type of grass grows primarily in southern coastal regions, like in south Texas and throughout Florida.

  • Soil: This grass withstands sandy soil and prefers a soil pH of 5–8.5.

  • Sunlight: The grass will tolerate moderate shade to full sunlight.

  • Mowing: You won’t spend much time mowing this grass, but when you do mow, keep it to a height of 2–3 inches.

  • Traffic: St. Augustine looks best with light foot traffic.

6. Bahia Grass

Bahia grass
Photo: rsooll / Adobe Stock

For a primarily pest- and disease-resistant grass that can also stand up to harsh growing conditions found in the southeastern U.S., Bahia grass is a good choice. It’s also ideal for homeowners who don’t want to spend hours toiling over their lawns, as this grass type grows slowly and requires little water or additional nutrients.

  • Type: Bahia grass is a warm-season option for your lawn.

  • Region: You’ll find Bahia in the southern U.S., including coastal regions.

  • Soil: Keep soil pH at 5.5–6.5 to prevent the grass from yellowing.

  • Sunlight: This grass prefers full sun and can withstand moderate shade.

  • Mowing: Mow Bahia grass to about 2–3 inches. It goes dormant in winter, so no mowing is required.

  • Traffic: Bahia grass can bounce back from moderate foot traffic.

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