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Home / Learning Center / Topics / Grass Seed / Selecting a Warm Season Grass

Selecting a Warm Season Grass

If you reside in the south or transition zone where warm season grasses are dominant, you already know choosing a variety and maintaining it can be challenging.  The warm season grasses are commonly started vegetatively in the lawn as sod or stolons and require good soil to get a good start.  Unlike the cool season grasses, warm season grasses grow best with temperatures between 80 to 95 degrees F. 

As most warm season grasses will turn brown with the arrival of cooler temperatures, it is common to overseed (also called winter overseeding) with ryegrass each fall.  The ryegrass helps the lawn maintain a green color during the winter months and then go dormant in the heat of summer when the warm season grasses are at their best.

When considering a warm season grass, consider the features that are important to you in the grass characteristics and the type of "use" your lawn will experience.  Below is a chart of the different warm season grasses and inherent characteristics of each variety.

Properties of selected warm season grasses.
FeatureBuffaloCentipedeCommon BermudaHybrid BermudaSt AugustineTall FescueZoysia
Drought toleranceHighLow to mediumMedium to highLow to mediumMediumLowMedium to high
Traffic toleranceMedium to highLowHighMedium to highLowMediumHigh
Shade toleranceLowMedium to highLowLow to mediumHighHighMedium to high
Fertilizing requirementLowLowMedium to highHighMediumMediumFine to medium
Leaf textureFineMedium to coarseMediumFineCoarseMediumFine to medium
Mowing heightHighMedium to highMediumLowHighHighMedium
Cold toleranceHighMedium to highMediumLow to mediumLowHighHigh
Heat toleranceHighHighHighHighHighMediumHigh
Thatching tendencyLowMediumLowHighMedium to highLowMedium to high
Acid soil toleranceLowMediumMediumMediumLowHighLow to medium

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