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.

Grass Plug Options:
Seed Ranch St Augustine Seville Grass Plugs (2 Trays)
Seed Ranch St Augustine Floratam Grass Plugs (2 Trays)

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. 

Grass Plug and Seed Options:
Zoysia Plugs (50 Large Grass Plugs)
Zoysia Plugs (50 Full & Lush Grass Plugs)
Zoysia Plugs (100 Plugs)
– Zoysia Emerald Grass Seeds (1/8 lb. of seeds)
Zenith Zenith Grass Seeds (1/8 lb. of seeds)

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.

Grass Seed Options:
Pennington Bermudagrass Bare Spot (5 lb. bag)
– Pennington Smart Seed Bermudagrass Mix (8.75-lb. bag)
Scotts Turf Builder Bermudagrass (10-lb. bag)
Hancock Seed Co. Bermudagrass (50-lb. bag)

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.

Grass Seed Options:
Everwilde Farms Buffalograss Seeds (1 lb. of seeds)
Buffalograss seed (primed) (5-lb. bag)

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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Rachel Abrams

Born and raised in Gainesville, Florida, Rachel Abrams studied creative writing at the University of Virginia. She enjoys volunteering at her neighborhood community garden and growing herbs in her New York City apartment.