4 Best Grass Types for Austin

Waterfront and skyline of Austin, Texas

One of the great things about living in Austin is having the benefit of enjoying your yard year-round, but what are the best grass types for a lawn that is perfect for backyard barbecues, pool parties, family reunions, and friendly get-togethers?

Here are the four best grass types able to withstand Austin’s mild temperatures. Each one will look great in your yard.

  • St. Augustinegrass
  • Zoysiagrass
  • Bermudagrass
  • Buffalograss

Read on to learn more about each type, including maintenance tips and questions to consider when deciding which one is right for you.

1. St. Augustinegrass

St. Augustinegrass, a popular choice for Austin homeowners, features blue-green blades with a coarse texture that form a dense turf. St. Augustinegrass grows well in nearly all soil types.

Of all the warm-season grasses, St. Augustinegrass is the most shade-tolerant. That means it will grow beneath your live oaks and covered patios, and it’s particularly good at thriving in the intense summer heat.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons
  • Shade Tolerance: Moderate
  • Drought Tolerance: High
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: Moderate
  • Maintenance Needs: High. This grass is sensitive to iron deficiency which is corrected with applications of iron sulfate or iron chelate.
  • Mowing Height: 2.5-3.5 inches in sunny lawns, 3-3.5 inches in shady lawns
  • Soil pH: 5-8.5
  • Potential for Disease: Medium. Use preventative applications of fungicides.

Other Notes: Apply fertilizer 3 weeks after the grass turns green. You can apply 1-1.5 pounds of slow-release nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn every 10 weeks, or about .75-1 pound of soluble nitrogen every eight weeks. Unless it’s been overseeded, you don’t need to fertilize December through February.

2. Zoysiagrass

If you’re willing to put in the work for a high-quality lawn, Zoysiagrass is the way to go. Zoysia is a warm-season grass with a fine to medium texture.

Zoysia is a great option for people who want a dense grass that will tolerate the drier months in Austin’s fall and winter.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Below-ground rhizomes and above-ground stolons
  • Shade Tolerance: Moderate – prefers full sun, but tolerates partial shade
  • Drought Tolerance: High
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: High
  • Maintenance Needs: Moderate. Dethatching and annual or biannual aeration is necessary.
  • Mowing Height: 2-3 inches
  • Soil pH: 5.8-7.0
  • Potential for Disease: Moderate

Other Notes: Zoysiagrass has stiff leaf blades, so if you choose this turf, be sure to regularly check your mower blades for sharpness. 

3. Bermudagrass

Do you spend a lot of time enjoying your yard with family, friends and pets? If you are looking for a tough turf, bermudagrass is your best bet. This grass tolerates heat, drought and heavy traffic. 

The common varieties of bermudagrass have a coarse, light green color, whereas their hybrid counterparts have a finer, darker color with more density.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons and rhizomes
  • Shade Tolerance. Low; prefers full sun
  • Drought Tolerance: High. If you want your lawn to remain green, though, you’ll need to water once a week.
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: High
  • Maintenance Needs: Low. During the growing season, weekly mowing is recommended. 
  • Mowing Height: 1-1.5 inches for hybrids and 2 inches for common variety
  • Potential for Disease: Moderate. Application of nitrogen fertilizer in the early fall and over irrigation can increase your lawn’s chances of disease.
  • Soil pH: 5.8-7.0

Other Notes: Although bermudagrass tolerates drought, it benefits from supplemental irrigation. Wilting leaves or a blue-gray color in your lawn signals drought stress and can be helped with once- or twice-a-week irrigation.

4. Buffalograss

Out of the warm-season grasses, this prairie native grass requires the lowest amount of maintenance. In fact, over management does more harm than good. No need to irrigate –- the rainfall in Central Texas is adequate for successful growth.

Color can range from spring green to blue-green. As long as it gets 4-6 hours of sunlight a day, this is a hardy grass that can act as a weed barrier for the rest of your lawn.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons
  • Shade Tolerance: Low; does best in full sun 
  • Drought Tolerance: High
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: Low
  • Maintenance Needs: Low. It can thrive in areas with an average rainfall of 25 inches, and excessive watering promotes weeds.
  • Mowing Height: 2-3 inches for a clean look or left at its mature height of 4-6 inches for a softer look.
  • Potential for Disease: Low
  • Soil pH: 6.0-8.0

Other Notes: Fertilization isn’t required, but buffalograss will respond to light applications of nitrogen.

How to choose the best grass type for your lawn

  • Is your yard irrigated?
    • St. Augustinegrass and Zoysiagrass benefit from irrigation.
  • Do you want a high-quality, thick lawn?
    • Zoysiagrass is your best choice for a top-notch turf that will impress your neighbors.
  • Are you looking for turfgrass that doesn’t need fertilization?
    • Though it will respond to nitrogen fertilizer, buffalograss doesn’t require fertilization to thrive in your lawn.
  • Do you have any shade in your yard?
    • If you have shady areas, St. Augustinegrass is your best bet. If you have a sunny lawn, go with bermudagrass.

Still unsure what grass type to pick for your Austin lawn — and how to care for your yard once the grass grows? Find a Lawn Love lawn care pro in Austin to answer your questions and take the lawn care chores off your to-do list.

Main Photo Credit: Stuart Seeger | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

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