6 Best Grass Types for Charlotte Lawns

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skyline of Charlotte, North Carolina

What are the best grass types for your Charlotte, North Carolina, lawn? Six grass types thrive in this part of the state:

  • Tall fescue
  • Grass mixes
  • Bermudagrass
  • Centipedegrass
  • St. Augustinegrass
  • Zoysiagrass

Here are a couple reasons why these are the best grass types for your lawn:

  1. The Piedmont region is suited for both cool- and warm-season grasses.
  2. Having a plethora of options gives you a better ability to choose the best grass to plant for your lawn’s specific needs.

The devil is in the details, so look over these grass types and choose the type or mix that works best for your Queen City lawn.

Which grass is best for my Charlotte lawn?

When it comes to grasses for the Piedmont region of North Carolina, you have options. This means you should be able to find a grass (or a mix) that will grow successfully on almost any lawn.

Cool-season grasses

Cool-season grasses stay green during the winter but may become stressed during the summer months.

1. Tall fescue


Tall fescue is well suited to the piedmont region and is the most common cool-season grass grown in North Carolina. Experts recommend planting a blend of cultivars for better stress resistance and genetic diversity. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Short rhizomes
  • Shade tolerance: Moderate
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate to high
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate to high
  • Maintenance needs: Follow good mowing practices: Don’t cut more than one-third of the blade per mow.
  • Mowing height: 2.5-3.5 inches
  • Potential for disease: Low

Other notes: Heat stress may leave bare or thin patches that need re-seeding each year.

2. Grass mixes 

Unlike warm-season species, cool-season grasses often are sold as seed mixes. The mixes are formulated for specific yard needs, such as for a yard with part sun, part shade.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Kentucky bluegrass (rhizome); tall fescue (short rhizomes); fine fescue (Fine fescues are bunching grasses. Creeping red fescues are the exception: They have short rhizomes.)
  • Shade tolerance: Moderate
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate to high
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate to high
  • Maintenance needs: Can tolerate higher mowing heights 
  • Mowing height: 2.5-3.5 inches
  • Potential for disease: Moderate

Other notes: Don’t water after 8 a.m. These cool-season mixes are at risk of brown patch disease during periods of high humidity or wet weather in combination with temperatures over 85 degrees F. If you have a disease outbreak, follow the recommended management practices.

Warm-season grasses

Warm-season grasses thrive in the summer and go into dormancy and turn brown during the winter. 

3. Bermudagrass (common and hybrid varieties)

Bermudagrass, in common and hybrid varieties, is a well-known and popular warm-season grass. It has a high drought tolerance and can withstand heavy traffic. If you don’t remember anything about bermudagrass, remember this: It thrives in full sun. This is not the grass to use if you have any shade in the yard. 

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons and rhizomes
  • Shade tolerance: Low — only plant in full sun
  • Drought tolerance: High
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High
  • Maintenance needs: One inch of water per week. This grass has a moderate to high mowing frequency.
  • Mowing height: 0.75-2 inches
  • Potential for disease: Low to medium

Other notes: Consider hybrid and common bermuda varieties if you think this species is ideal for your lawn. Each will have slightly different tolerances and characteristics, so you can choose the variety that works best for you. 

4. Centipedegrass

You may have heard centipedegrass called “The Lazy Man’s Grass.” It earned its moniker because it doesn’t require mowing or fertilizing as often as other grasses. This grass will tolerate some shade. 

If you have lots of foot traffic on your lawn, this is not the grass for you. Centipedegrass has a low traffic tolerance.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons
  • Shade tolerance: Full sun to part shade
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low
  • Maintenance needs: Needs mowing every 7-10 days; requires very little fertilization (1-2 lbs. of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. per year)
  • Mowing height: 1-1.5 inches
  • Potential for disease: Low to moderate

Other notes: Prefers acidic soil; grows slowly

5. St. Augustinegrass

St. Augustinegrass is considered the most shade-tolerant of the warm-season grasses and tolerates a tall mowing height. 

It is not a good choice for lawns with heavy foot traffic.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons
  • Shade tolerance: High
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate   
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low
  • Maintenance needs: Grows quickly and requires frequent mowing
  • Mowing height: 2.5-4 inches
  • Potential for disease: High

Other notes: Not a cold-hardy grass; prefers well-drained soil

6. Zoysiagrass

Zoysiagrass options have expanded in the past few decades. There are many new cultivars on the market, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Do your research before you buy to choose the best variety and tolerances for your lawn.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons and rhizomes
  • Shade tolerance: Moderate 
  • Drought tolerance: High
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High
  • Maintenance needs: Grows relatively slowly and doesn’t require frequent mowing
  • Mowing height: 0.75-2 inches
  • Potential for disease: Depends on the variety but generally low to medium risk

Other notes: Zoysiagrass is very dense and carpet-like. Use a sharp mower blade.

NC State Extension has a full list of lawn maintenance calendars for more advice and information.

How to select the best grass type for your lawn

In addition to considering which grass you prefer, remember to consider your lawn’s needs and unique conditions before selecting a grass:

  • Is your area subject to drought? If so, consider the level of drought tolerance of each grass. 
    • Bermuda and Zoysia have the highest levels of drought tolerance, but all of the grasses listed here have a moderate drought tolerance or better.
  • How much foot traffic does your lawn receive?
    • Bermuda and Zoysia are best for lawns with high traffic. Tall fescue and cool-season grass mixes also tolerate traffic moderately well.
  • Do you have partial shade in your lawn, or is it full sun?
    • Bermuda is great for a lawn with full sun. Both tall fescue and the cool-season grass mixes perform moderately well in partial shade. If you prefer warm-season grass and have partial shade, St. Augustine is the best choice.
  • How much maintenance do you plan to do (or hire out)?
    • Centipedegrass is called the “Lazy Man’s Grass” for a reason. Zoysia is also relatively low maintenance. St. Augustinegrass is a higher maintenance lawn due to its fast growth and high potential for disease.

Looking for professional help? Contact one of our Charlotte lawn care professionals for help selecting, mowing, and maintaining your grass.

Main Photo Credit: Pixabay

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