Time to Seed or Sod?

Spring and early autumn are ideal times to lay new seed or sod, whether you're patching damaged areas or starting your lawn from scratch. If you're not certain of the best grass for your yard, here are the most common types and their noteworthy characteristics.

Bahia grass

Bahia grass is a warm-season grass for the South. It's a coarse-textured, fast-growing, salt-tolerant, sun-loving grass that enjoys moist soil. Like many fast-growing grasses, bahia grass is quite susceptible to thatch buildup. Try not to mow bahia grass lower than 2 inches high.

Bent grass

A cool-season grass for the North, bent grass is fine-textured and deals fairly well with heavy traffic because it grows quickly. Unfortunately, bent grass isn't very drought tolerant and may be more disease prone than other cool-season grasses. Because of its fast growth, bent grass tends to build thatch. Mow bent grass no lower than ½ inch high, slightly taller in the heat of the summer months.

Bermuda grass

This warm-season grass is suited for the South. It has a medium texture and is tolerant of heat and salt, which makes it good for coastal areas. However, it's not shade tolerant and needs full sun. Bermuda grass is somewhat drought tolerant, though it may go brown. Mow no lower than 1½ inches high.

Blue grama

A sun-loving native grass with fine-textured, gray-green leaves, blue grama is extremely hardy and drought tolerant, but also relatively expensive. It doesn't tolerate heavy foot traffic well. Mow no lower than 2½ inches high.

Bluegrass

A cool-season grass for the North, Kentucky bluegrass is one of the most common grasses in North America: It resists light traffic, but isn't particularly drought tolerant. Bluegrass can withstand colder temperatures than many other grasses. Mixing it with other cool season grasses, such as fescues or ryes, can be beneficial. Mow bluegrass no shorter than 2 inches high, and higher during the hottest weeks of the year.

Buffalo grass

Native to drier areas of North America, buffalo grass has fine-textured, gray-green leaves. Though expensive, it is drought tolerant and resists heat well (but not cold). Buffalo grass is rather slow to green in the spring. Mow buffalo grass no lower than 2½ inches high.

Centipede grass

Another Southern, warm-season grass, centipede grass is medium-textured and grows more slowly than most other warm season grasses. It also doesn't like a lot of foot traffic. Centipede grass is not among the most drought-tolerant grasses, either. On the plus side, it performs in light shade and is fairly disease resistant. Mow 1 to 2 inches high.

Fescue

The fescues include cool-season grasses (chewings, red, hard, and tall fescue) suited just about everywhere except the furthest North and the Deep South. Most tolerate a range of soil types, as well as partial shade. They also resist traffic well, and are generally drought tolerant. Mow fescues no less than 2 inches high, and bit higher during the heat of the summer.

Perennial ryegrass

Ryegrass is a cool-season grass for the North. It grows quickly, tolerates a bit of shade, and is more disease resistant than many other cool-season grasses. Mow ryegrass no less than 2 inches high, and a bit higher during periods of heat and drought.

St. Augustine grass

This warm-season grass for the South is a fast grower. It tends to have a coarse texture and good heat tolerance. Enjoying a moist soil (though it won't survive drought), St. Augustine grass tolerates some degree of shade. Mow no lower than 2 inches high.

Zoysia grass

A Southern, warm-season grass, zoysia grows in partially shaded spots, and tolerates more salt than many other grasses. Zoysia is very drought and disease tolerant, but is susceptible to thatch. It Will Brown when dormant in winter. Mow zoysia between 1 and 2 inches high.