best grass for texas

The Best Grass For Texas – The Complete Guide

Everything is bigger and better in Texas, right? The hats, the ranches, the sky—but what about the lawns? Growing beautiful, lush grass can present unique challenges in the hot, dry Texas climate. 

Depending on where in the state you live, the temperature can range up to 40˚ Fahrenheit between the northern- and southernmost points of the state, even on the coldest day of the year. 

But having the biggest, greenest lawn in Texas is not an impossible task. With the right grass type for your area and yard, you can grow a lawn that will be the envy of the neighborhood. 

house in texas with nice lawn and map overlay

But where to begin? It is important to know which grasses thrive in certain climates so you can make the best decision for your yard’s needs. 

Here are some grasses that grow well in cool and warm seasons and some tips on how to choose the right grass for you.

Warm vs. Cool Season Grasses

The first thing to know when picking a grass for your lawn is whether you are looking for a warm or cool season grass.

These names may be confusing, as they seem to imply that warm-season grass is for the summer and cool-season for the winter. 

In reality:

  • Cool-season grasses thrive in temperatures from 65˚ to 75˚F
  • Warm seasons grasses do best when the thermometer reads between 80˚ and 95˚ F

But whether they grow or die has nothing to do with whether it is winter or summer. 

Both types of grasses’ growing season is springtime to early fall. It all has to do with the general climate where you plant the grass.

Because Texas has such a wide range of temperatures throughout the state, different grasses are needed for different regions. 

Texas USDA Hardiness Zone Map

Warm Season Grass

This type of grass is most commonly found in Texas and other regions with warm climates, both humid and dry. 

In places along the Gulf of Mexico, where it gets fairly humid, the best grasses to grow are St. Augustinegrass, centipedegrass, zoysiagrass, and bahiagrass. In drier parts of the state, bermudagrass is a great option due to its ability to withstand drought.

Cool Season Grass

Northern Texas has a cooler average climate than its southernmost counterpart, so a cool-season grass may be a good option for this region. 

Cool-season grasses include ryegrass, tall fescue, fine fescue, and bluegrass. In dryer conditions, Canada bluegrass and wheatgrass do well and may be good options, too.

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Best Warm Season Grass for Texas

Most regions of Texas get too hot in the summer for a cool-season grass to survive. But much of Texas also gets too cold in the winter for warm-season grass to stay bright and beautiful. 

If you are looking to cultivate a green lawn year-round, some people choose to overseed their lawns with cool-season grasses, such as ryegrass, which will stay green longer through the winter.

Here are warm-season grass species that may be right for your area.

Bermuda grass

bermuda grass
  • Shade Tolerance: Very low to low, avoid shade whenever possible
  • Water Requirements: Moderate to low
  • Drought Tolerance: Very good to excellent, good for very dry regions
  • Cold Tolerance: Moderate
  • Mowing Frequency: Every 3 to 7 days

This type of grass can grow in any part of Texas. It does best in the eastern part of the state, but it can also thrive in the west with some extra irrigation and maintenance, such as fertilization. 

Bermudagrass needs full sunlight in order to grow well. It can withstand high traffic very well.

There are many varieties of bermudagrass, but not all of them are always available at turf suppliers and garden centers. 

It may be important to note that bermudagrass spreads easily and can be challenging to control around borders, sidewalks, and flower beds. It also requires mowing frequently if fertilized properly, so you may find yourself doing a lot of lawn maintenance with this species.

Buffalo grass

buffalo grass close up
  • Shade Tolerance: Low, avoid shade whenever possible
  • Water Requirements: Very low, best in dry climates
  • Drought Tolerance: Excellent
  • Cold Tolerance: High, good for northern as well as southern Texas regions
  • Mowing Frequency: Every 7 to 14 days

This species of grass does best in areas with some rainfall—25 inches or less per year. It grows especially well in the central to western regions of Texas and can also be grown in the far west and central-east regions, provided it is not overwatered. 

Buffalograss does not do well in the humidity of the far-east region of Texas. It grows well in full sunlight. There are many varieties of this grass to choose from, both in seeded and sod form. 

It can grow in a range of soils, but it does best in alkaline and low-fertility soils. Buffalograss does not grow as fast as bermudagrass, so it requires mowing infrequently.

Centipede grass

centipede grass
  • Shade Tolerance: Moderate, can withstand light shade
  • Water Requirements: Moderate, does well in more humid East Texas
  • Drought Tolerance: Moderate, does require some irrigation during very dry spells
  • Cold Tolerance: Low, best suited for warm regions
  • Mowing Frequency: Every 7 to 10 days

This low-maintenance species of grass grows very well in eastern Texas. It grows slowly, requiring little mowing, and can tolerate light shade in addition to full-sun conditions. It does not need much fertilizer. 

Because it grows so slowly, it is best to plant it with sod rather than seeds. There are not very many varieties of centipedegrass. It is aggressive, so it will keep your lawn free of weeds and it can withstand most insects and diseases in comparison to other grass species. 

It is also easy to control around borders, sidewalks, and flower beds, but it does not tolerate traffic very well. Centipedegrass can grow in low-fertility soils but does best in soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5.

Seashore Paspalum

Seashore Paspalum
  • Shade Tolerance: Low, avoid shade whenever possible
  • Water Requirements: Moderate, does best in more humid South Texas
  • Drought Tolerance: Good
  • Cold Tolerance: Low, best suited for warm regions
  • Mowing Frequency: Every 3 to 7 days

This species of grass does not have a tolerance for extended periods of cold temperatures, it grows best in the southern part of Texas, becoming easier to grow the farther south one goes. It can grow in soil with salinity and it does not need as much fertilizer as some other grasses. 

Seashore paspalum is a good option for yards that need high maintenance and have irrigation water with high or moderate salinity. It can withstand moderate to high amounts of traffic. Seashore paspalum may be harder to find than some other grass species.

St. Augustine grass

st augustine grass
  • Shade Tolerance: High, some varieties can grow well in shady areas
  • Water Requirements: Moderate, does best in more humid East Texas
  • Drought Tolerance: Good
  • Cold Tolerance: Low, best suited for warm regions
  • Mowing Frequency: Every 5 to 7 days

This species of grass is coarse in texture, making it well-suited to be a lawn grass. It can withstand the most shade of any warm-season grass species and grows well in most of the eastern region of the state, though the farther south, the better. 

St. Augustinegrass has a low tolerance for traffic and is best installed with sod, rather than planting seeds. There are many varieties of St. Augustinegrass, including Palmetto, Sapphire, Floratam, and Amerishade. 

For lawns closer to the Gulf Coast, Floratam is the variety that thrives best in that climate. It has wider blades and better drought tolerance than the other varieties of St. Augustinegrass, as well as poorer cold and shade tolerance than other varieties.

Zoysia grass

zoysia grass
  • Shade Tolerance: Moderate to high
  • Water Requirements: Moderate
  • Drought Tolerance: Very good, can be grown throughout all regions of Texas
  • Cold Tolerance: Moderate to high
  • Mowing Frequency: Every 5 to 10 days

This is another species of warm-season grass that can grow in any part of Texas with relatively no upkeep. It does best in the eastern half of Texas and may require additional maintenance in the western half of the state. 

Zoysiagrass is only moderately tolerant of traffic. It grows slower than some other species of grass, so establishing it from sod will ensure a fully covered lawn sooner than seeds. 

There are two varieties of this grass in Texas: Zoysia matrella and Zoysia japonica. 

  1. japonica is better suited for regular home lawns with its medium leaf texture and ordinary maintenance requirements.
  2. Zoysia matrella needs closer and more frequent mowing, and its fine texture is best for creating very dense turf.

Best Cool Season Grass for Texas

For lawns in the northern regions of Texas, cool-season grasses are better adapted to grow well in the area’s more moderate conditions. They cannot withstand the high heat and humidity of central and southern Texas. 

Here are cool-season grasses that may be right for your area.

Kentucky Blue grass

kentucky blue grass
  • Shade Tolerance: Low, avoid shade at all costs
  • Water Requirements: Moderate to high, requires irrigation 
  • Drought Tolerance: Good, may need additional irrigation in long dry spells
  • Cold Tolerance: High
  • Mowing Frequency: Every 5 to 10 days

This species of grass is very popular in the northern United States. It can grow in the Texas Panhandle region with some additional irrigation. It is not suited for humid parts of the state. 

Kentucky bluegrass has a fine to medium texture and a strong green color when fertilized adequately. It can withstand a reasonable amount of traffic.

Kentucky bluegrass can only be established as a seed in Texas, as there are no Kentucky bluegrass sod growers in the state. There are many varieties of this species available, and a mix of three or four varieties may produce the best results.

Rye grass

rye grass
  • Shade Tolerance: Low to moderate, grows best in a relatively well-lit yard
  • Water Requirements: Moderate to high, requires irrigation 
  • Drought Tolerance: Good, may need additional irrigation 
  • Cold Tolerance: Moderate, can survive temporarily in Texas winter months
  • Mowing Frequency: Every 3 to 7 days

As mentioned above, rye grass may be used to overseed a warm-season grass lawn to keep it green year-round. 

It only thrives temporarily in Texas climates, so it is best to use it just for the cooler months. Its growth stunts in temperatures below 41˚ F and it cannot survive in temperatures around 30˚ F or lower.

Tall Fescue

tall fescue
  • Shade Tolerance: Excellent, can thrive in a shady yard
  • Water Requirements: Moderate, requires irrigation
  • Drought Tolerance: Good to excellent
  • Cold Tolerance: Moderate to good
  • Mowing Frequency: Every 7 to 10 days

This species of grass is best adapted for northern Texas, as it does not survive well in the southern part of the state. Tall fescue needs more irrigation in the summer than many other species of grass in order to survive the high temperatures. It does not do well in high traffic.

There are a lot of tall fescue varieties available with different leaf textures and performance in the North Texas climate. Some varieties do better in shade and heat than others. This grass can generally grow well in a variety of soil conditions.

Texas Blue grass

  • Shade Tolerance: Low to moderate
  • Water Requirements: Moderate, requires irrigation 
  • Drought Tolerance: High
  • Cold Tolerance: Moderate to high
  • Mowing Frequency: Every 5 to 10 days

This grass species is very similar to Kentucky bluegrass, but it can withstand the Texas heat better. It grows best in central and northern Texas on lawns with low traffic. 

It can stay green throughout the year in the right conditions. Varieties of Texas bluegrass have been developed by Texas A&M University, but they are not widely available yet.

The Wrap Up

Due to the wide range of temperatures and climates in Texas, there are some grass species that are better suited for your yard than others. 

Warm and cool-season grasses grow differently depending on where in Texas you live. If you have any questions about picking the right grass for you, feel free to comment below. 

The first step is to determine whether your lawn needs a warm or cool-season grass. From there, you can find the grass with the right characteristics for your yard and area. 

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