How to Choose the Best Grass for Your yard

Grass is an essential part of every yard, and with hundreds of species out there to choose from it can be difficult to pick the type of grass seed that will create the look and feel of the lawn you want.

Through countless hours of research here are the best tips to help you find the best grass for your yard so that you, your family or even your dog will enjoy running their feet through the lawn of your dreams.

What to look out for

Growth rate

Put simply, this is how quickly or slowly grass grows. The last thing you might want is to leave your home for a few days and come back with your property looking like Jumanji. On the other hand a faster growth means that your lawn can recover from any unsightly patches and damages. 

The growth rate is what I like to call a ‘lifestyle metric’. If you’re someone who is always on the go or just a couch potato then you might not want to spend time mowing your lawn every 2-3 days. So think about how your weekly or even daily lifestyle is when looking at the growth rate.

Growing season

The growing season of grass is typically when its growth rate is at its peak.Let’s start off by asking ourselves, which season do I want my lawn to look its best. Depending on what your answer might be, there will be a variety of grasses to consider.

Warm SeasonCool Season
These grasses grow best during summer when temperatures range between 27℃ and 35℃ (80℉ -95℉). As temperature drops to around 18℃ (65℉) these grasses usually go dormant, losing their colour, turning brown. During Spring and Fall or when temperature is between 15℃ to 21℃ (60℉ to 70℉)  is when you can see these grasses at their lushest. These grasses can usually stay active during winter chills once it isn’t cold enough to freeze the soil. 

Drought Tolerance 

This is how well and how long the grass survives drought conditions, which is a combination of heat stress and  water shortage. Grass that does well in these conditions usually have deep roots which allows them to access more of the nutrients that can be found deep within soil.

Root Network

Talking about roots and how they help gather nutrients to keep the grass alive, there is something else that you should know, roots can be invasive. Well to be more precise the stolon and rhizomes. Grasses that have either of these, or sometimes both, are known as ‘creeping grasses’ and if not managed well can invade nearby vegetation like flower beds. 

Heavy Foot Traffic Tolerance

This is another ‘lifestyle metric’ that you should consider when choosing a grass for your yard because it indicates how resilient the grass is to constant activity. If you plan on having garden parties or just want a space for the kids to play then having a grass that can handle that and still look good after is what you’ll need. However if you just want a great looking lawn to admire and be the envy of the neighborhood then you don’t need to worry that much about this. Getting a ‘keep off the grass sign’ should do the trick.

Shade Tolerance

Grass loves the sun, and since they need it to live, who can blame them. However, not all species of grass are built the same, with some being quite needy requiring  constant light and others being ok with bare minimum. Take into consideration the surroundings and any natural or manmade structures that can block the sun for periods of time, like trees or buildings.

Salt Tolerance

For all you animal lovers out there who also want a lovely looking lawn consider the salt tolerance of the grass. Pet urine is high in salt and nitrogen which can burn the grass, leaving brown patches everywhere they marked their territory.

Anything Else?

Just a couple notes.

Try and avoid choosing a grass with the word ‘annual’ in it like ‘annual ryegrass’ or ‘annual meadowgrass’ because as the name suggests these varieties will have you replanting your lawn every year.

And while we’re on the topic of meadow grass, which also goes by the name Poa annua, try to ensure the grass you want isn’t considered an invasive species for your region.

YardHacker’s Picks

Here are some popular grasses to help you get the ball rolling

#1 Bermuda Grass

This is an amazing lawn grass and my personal favorite if opinions matter. It is a warm season grass that holds up extremely well in the toughest of conditions, like playing with your super energetic nieces and nephews. Apart from that it also has a high drought tolerance but with that doesn’t handle the shade well.

This grass grows quickly and with the combination of having both stolons and rhizomes, could be a pain sometimes if left unmanaged for extended periods. Pet urine isn’t much of a problem for Bermuda, making this grass an overall excellent choice for the yard

#2 Kentucky Bluegrass

With it being pretty salt resilient and fast growing this cool season grass is a pet lover’s dream. It loves the sun, although it doesn’t do too well in drought conditions, and does well in the shade. This grass also be mixes well with some other grasses. 

#3 Fescue

Fescue is a broad term referring to a lot of different species with all not being made equal with Tall and Fine fescue are two of the better species to choose from. These are cool season grasses that can survive versus short droughts. These fescues like sunlight and are very low maintenance especially the Fine varieties. Shaded areas aren’t a problem either for these with another variant “Creeping red fescue” being the go-to for extremely shady areas.

#4 St. Augustine 

A  shade tolerant warm season creeping grass. The wide grass blades makes it exceptional at handling foot traffic. These grow fairly quickly so make sure you keep tabs of your lawn if you have flowers nearby because it can be quickly overrun by it  

The Takeaway

There are lots of things to consider when looking to create an amazing lawn but this doesn’t mean the process has to be all loom and gloom. It’s ok to experiment a little and before you know it, you’ll have a yard that will really have the neighbors thinking that the grass really is greener on the other side.