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The Best Grass Types for Lawns in the U.S.

Lawn grass types are divided into cool-season and warm-season species.

The cool-season grasses grow best in the northern parts of the United States. The intensity of summer heat and drought stress will limit how far south they can grow.

Warm-season grasses flourish in the heat of the South. Their northern boundaries are dictated by intensity and duration of winters.

The area sandwiched between the northern and southern growing zones is known as the Transition zone. Both warm and cool season species can be grown in this region. However, no turfgrass species is perfectly adapted. Seasons with environmental extremes will cause the most carefully selected variety to struggle or even die.

No grass type is perfectly adapted to the transition zone
IMAGE ALT TAG - Warm and cool season grass types

Cool-Season Grasses

Cool-season species grow well in cool temperatures - between 60° to 75° F is optimal. A typical growing season starts with a flush of growth in the spring, then slowed (sometimes to dormancy) in the summer, followed by another flush of growth in the fall.

Best shoot growth when air temperatures are between 60° - 75° F.
Best root growth when soil temperatures range between 50° - 65° F.
Cool season grass types

These lawn grasses need to be watered during hot, dry periods or they will go dormant and can be injured or even die. Many cool-season species will retain a green color during the winter.

The best cool-season lawn grasses:

Perennial ryegrasses are mainly used in seed blends as a nurse grass, because of its quick germination rate, and for overseeding warm-season species.

Bentgrass is another common cool season species - used mainly on golf course greens and tees. It can make a real nice lawn but is very high maintenance. In some areas, bentgrass can be an invasive weed that is dificult to control.

Warm-Season Grasses

Warm-season species are adapted to the southern and south western regions and sub-tropical to tropical climates. They are slow to green up in the spring, thrive during the warmer temperatures - 80° to 90° F degrees - then go dormant and turn brown when the weather gets cold.

Best shoot growth when air temperatures are between 80° - 95° F.
Best root growth when soil temperatures range between 75° - 85° F.
IMAGE ALT TAG - Warm season grass types

Some lawns can be overseeded with a cool-season species in early fall to maintain a green color through the winter. Overseeding also protects dormant grasses from extreme cold temperatures and traffic.

Popular warm-season grass types:

Transition Zone Grasses

Year-round weather conditions are less than ideal for both types of grasses, making this area the most difficult to grow a beautiful, environmentally friendly lawn. The winters can be too cold for many warm-season species and the summers too hot and dry for many cool-season species.

Tall fescue is the most common and best adapted transition grass type in the eastern transition zone. Kentucky bluegrass, bermudagrass and zoysiagrass can be used on certain sites. Buffalograss is a good choice for unirrigated lawns in western semiarid regions.

Grass Types

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