Texas has a range of climates across the state, from the western desert to the gulf coast, to the northern plains. When choosing a grass for your lawn, your location within the state will make one grass stand out among the others as the easiest to grow and the best to meet your needs.
What Is The Easiest Grass To Grow In Texas?
Across such a big state, the best grass to grow at any place in Texas will vary by environment, as well as your purpose for planting the lawn. The variables you should consider when choosing a grass include:
- Location – As you move from east to west, Texas gets drier, and as you move from north to south, it gets cooler. The northern part of the state, particularly the panhandle, is in the transitional zone, where temperatures in fall, winter, and spring are low enough for cool-season grass to grow. The majority of the state, however, is in the warm zone, where the warm season includes much of the spring and fall. The eastern gulf coastal area has sandier soil than the central and western portions of the state, a factor which also heavily affects which grasses will do well in any given property.
- Use – Your intentions for the lawn affect which grass is the right choice, in addition to which will grow well. If you’re planting a back yard or a field that gets lots of foot traffic, it’s best to avoid certain grasses that are more easily damaged.
- Landscape – Yards with lots of wide open spaces can grow all types of grass, but those with shaded yards may have to plant a mix, a particular grass, or one of its varieties that has some tolerance for the parts of the yard that receive only partial sun throughout the day.
- Germination period – Grass can take from one and a half to four weeks to germinate and grow in depending on its species, and some grass can repair itself, while others can’t. The grass growth speed may be a factor in what’s going to be best for you. In the drier parts of Texas, seeds with coatings, or a hydroseed application, can help ensure, and even speed up, germination.
- Seasonality – The temperature changes and timing of the seasons influence when grass seeds grow best. Warm-season grasses grow when temperatures are above 65 regularly, while cool-season grass sprouts when temperatures fall below that mark.
The hot climate of Texas may be wet or dry, but across the state, warm-season grasses will dominate for much of the year. Depending on your location and soil type within the state, one of the following grasses will be your top choice to deal with Texas heat:
- Blue Grama
- St. Augustine
Buffalo grass is one of the best grasses you can plant in the dry and clay soils of the interior, northern, and western regions of the state. It’s a native prairie grass that can be planted as ground cover over fields and yards. It grows fast and spreads quickly with stolons, which allow the grass to repair itself if damaged.
Since these roots grow above ground, they can be ripped up by too much foot traffic, so buffalo grass should be planted in places that don’t get much wear.
Blue grama is another American prairie grass that will grow well in the clay soils of Texas in the driest regions of the state (the north and the west). Unlike buffalo grass, blue gramma is a bunch type that grows its roots from individual seeds, rather than spreading around with extensions.
This is another grass that shouldn’t get much foot traffic, particularly because it can’t repair itself if damaged. It’s a great ground cover that has a very high drought tolerance and low watering requirements.
For turf grass that can take a lot of wear, Bermuda grass is among the most robust. It has both rhizomes (below-ground root extensions) and stolons that stretch across a yard very quickly and can grow in either sandy or clay-heavy soil. While Bermuda grass has a high drought tolerance, it will go dormant relatively quickly in the heat of summer if not regularly hydrated. Fortunately, it will revive quickly when given some water.
With a dense and complex root system, Bermuda can take a lot of wear. This, and its preference for full-sun, makes Bermuda grass a great choice for fields and residential lawns that get a lot of use. It’s a favorite for tees and greens on golf courses!
Zoysia is another turf grass that has some similar qualities to Bermuda: it’s drought-tolerant, likes full sun, and has both rhizomes and stolons that can work into either clay or sandy soil. However, it’s a slow grower, which also means it creates a tighter ground cover than Bermuda.
Zoysia also has more tolerance to cooler temperatures than other warm-season grasses and can grow in areas that get partial shade. This dense turf grass can take a lot of wear and crowd out potential weeds.
For sandy soil along the coast in areas that don’t get much foot traffic, St. Augustine is a great choice. It spreads across the ground with stolons, so it can be easily damaged, but it provides a robust and fast-growing ground cover. It also has some shade tolerance and can be planted near trees and along fences where other grasses may refuse to grow.
St. Augustine has some drought tolerance, but it prefers humid weather to dryness. The above-ground roots can dry out if it becomes dehydrated, and the grass will die rather than go dormant if it doesn’t receive enough water. It’s important to note that this is the only grass that can’t be planted by seed and can only be installed with sod.
Northern parts of the state receive true cool seasons in fall and winter, while winters are generally mild across the rest of the state. When temperatures drop below 65 degrees, cool-season grass can be planted for green cover over the coldest months of the year. These grasses include:
- Kentucky Bluegrass
- Perennial Rye
Kentucky bluegrass is a dense turfgrass that can tolerate the cold temperatures that come over winter in the northern parts of the state. It’s the only cool-season grass that can spread with rhizomes, and it’s a fast grower that can repair itself if damaged.
This makes it the right cool-season choice for fields and yards that get lots of wear. If it’s planted for winter cover in areas closer to the coast, it will be able to deal with the sandy soil in addition to the clay further north.
Fescue is a coastal grass that does best in sandy soil and can be planted for a winter lawn in eastern Texas or in yards further north that have been amended with sand as necessary. All fescues are bunch-type grasses that grow groups of roots from individual seeds. Due to its deep roots, fescue has a high drought tolerance and can be planted in shaded areas.
Since this is a bunch-type grass, it doesn’t take foot traffic very well. If it gets damaged, fescue can’t repair itself and needs to be overseeded to fill in any open spaces. It can be planted as a compliment to bluegrass, however, which will fill in any open space around and between the bunches of fescue.
Perennial ryegrass is another bunch-type that can be planted as a complement to Kentucky bluegrass or on its own for a mild weather lawn. Rye germinates fast and grows in quickly in both sand and clay soils, but it won’t repair itself if damaged.
It’s less heat tolerant than fescue but more than Bermuda. Perennial rye does best in partial shade: too much sun, or too little, isn’t good for this grass. It also doesn’t do well in dry conditions, so it will grow best in the eastern parts of Texas, closer to the gulf, where there’s more annual rainfall and higher humidity.
When Should I Plant Grass Seed In Texas?
Depending on your location within Texas, you’ll have a smaller or larger planting window for warm and cool-season grasses. In the north of the state, cool-season grass can be planted from early to mid-spring and in early fall, while warm-season grass should be planted in late spring and early summer. In locations further south, cool-season cover can be planted in mid-fall, with the window for warmer-season grass being from early to mid-spring through early summer.
In the dry areas of Texas, particularly when planting warm-season seeds, using seeds that have coatings, or are applied in a hydromulch, will help the seeds retain moisture during germination despite the warm and dry conditions. Coating and hydroseeding also provides the seeds with supportive nutrients that may help speed up germination.