5 Best Grass Types for Houston

Skyline of Houston, Texas

Ever wonder why Houston is home to the largest rodeo in the world? Maybe it’s because we have the best grazing grass in the world. That grass is also great for creating a thick, green carpet — as long as you choose one of the five grass types that are ideal for Houston’s climate: 

  • Bermudagrass
  • Centipedegrass
  • Seashore paspalum 
  • St. Augustinegrass
  • Zoysiagrass

Texas A&M says there are three reasons these grass types work best for Houston lawns. 

  1. Warm-season grasses are ideal for Houston’s heat and humidity.
  2. These grass types are drought-tolerant for those dry summers
  3. All five will fight off pests, diseases, and weeds — some better than others.

Each lawn is a little different, so having these five options ensures you’ll be able to select a grass that works well for your area and your lawn.

Here is a closer look at the five species of warm-season turfgrass that are well suited for Houston:

1. Bermudagrass

Bermudagrass is famous for its high traffic tolerance and drought tolerance. If you plan to use this grass in your lawn, consider putting concrete or metal edging around beds or other areas you don’t want it to invade. Since Bermudagrass spreads both above ground (stolons) and below ground (rhizomes), it can be tricky to contain along its perimeter.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons and rhizomes
  • Shade tolerance: Low – needs full sun
  • Drought tolerance: High
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High
  • Maintenance needs: Plan to mow every three to seven days.
  • Mowing height: 1-2 inches
  • Potential for disease: Low 

Other notes: Many varieties are available as seed, but others are only available as sod, plugs, or sprigs.

2. Centipedegrass

Sometimes called the “Lazy Man’s Grass,” centipedegrass is known for its infrequent mowing and minimal fertilization requirements. It can be sensitive to drought, however, so keep it adequately watered throughout the growing season. 

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons
  • Shade tolerance: Medium
  • Drought tolerance: Medium
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low
  • Maintenance needs: Doesn’t require heavy fertilizing or frequent mowing. Plan to mow every 7 to 10 days.
  • Mowing height: 1.5-2 inches
  • Potential for disease: Low to medium

Other notes: Centipedegrass seed is slow to establish, so consider using sod for the fastest results. This grass performs best in acidic soils.

3. Seashore Paspalum

If your soil or home irrigation system has a moderate to high salt content, seashore paspalum may be a good choice. For this reason, it is a popular grass in warm, coastal areas.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons and rhizomes
  • Shade tolerance: Low
  • Drought tolerance: Good
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Medium to high
  • Maintenance needs: Home lawns can be mowed once per week.
  • Mowing height: 1-2 inches
  • Potential for disease: Low to medium

Other notes: Seashore paspalum spreads through stolons and rhizomes, so be sure to build impervious barriers around flower beds to stop encroachment.

4. St. Augustinegrass

Warm-season grasses don’t thrive in the shade as a general rule, but St. Augustinegrass provides a high level of shade tolerance when compared to other warm-season grasses. If you prefer a taller lawn, this species can be left to grow upward of 3 inches.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons
  • Shade tolerance: High
  • Drought tolerance: Good
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low
  • Maintenance needs: Tolerates relatively tall mowing heights
  • Mowing height: 2.5-3.5 inches
  • Potential for disease: High

Other notes: St. Augustinegrass does not like the cold and is susceptible to chinch bugs and disease. This species will not tolerate poorly drained soils.

5. Zoysiagrass

Zoysiagrass is known for its relatively good shade tolerance, drought tolerance, and ability to withstand moderate to high amounts of foot traffic. It is soft underfoot and has a low fertilization requirement. Zoysia is a great all-around grass for many warm-season homeowners.

There are many different varieties of Zoysiagrass, so be sure to investigate each one for its strengths and weaknesses. Certain varieties are used for higher-cut home lawns; others are used for athletic turf. Likewise, other characteristics may be strong in one Zoysia variety but less so in another. So, do your homework before you buy.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons and rhizomes
  • Shade tolerance: Depends on the variety but generally medium to high shade tolerance
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate to high – depends on which variety you choose
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate to high but recuperates slowly from traffic damage
  • Maintenance needs: Minimal fertilization. Other maintenance needs depend on the variety.
  • Mowing height: 1-2 inches
  • Potential for disease: Low to medium

Other notes: Establish from sod for the fastest results. Remember to border flower beds well to stop the rhizomes from tunneling and growing in unwanted areas.

FAQ about best grass types for Houston

1. Which grasses are not recommended for Houston?

— Buffalograss. East Texas has too much rainfall for this species.
— Kentucky bluegrass. The climate in East Texas is not suited for this cool-season grass.
— Turf-type tall fescue. As with Kentucky bluegrass, this is a cool-season grass that is better suited to the northern areas of the state.

2. Which grasses other than seashore paspalum have a high tolerance for salt?

Both bermudagrass and Zoysiagrass have medium to high salinity tolerances.

3. What else should I know about planting grass in my East Texas lawn?

It is highly recommended that you do a soil test. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium often are lacking in East Texas. You may also need to add lime to correct the pH level. Contact your county’s Extension office to submit a soil test and allow a few weeks for processing.

How to select the best grass type for your lawn

Before you make your final selection, consider the conditions in your yard. 

  • Does your yard have shade?
    • St. Augustine and Zoysia tolerate some shade.
  • How much foot traffic does your lawn receive? 
    • Bermuda is great for lawns that have lots of foot traffic from people or pets. Seashore paspalum and Zoysia handle traffic moderately well.
  • How much maintenance do you want to do? 
    • Centipede and Zoysia have relatively low maintenance requirements.
  • Does your city or county have watering restrictions?
    • Bermuda and Zoysia have the highest levels of drought tolerance. The other grasses on this list have moderate drought tolerance.

Ready to call in the pros? Book one of our Houston lawn care professionals to mow your lawn or get your new grass off to the best possible start. With a pro on your team, you’ll be ready for whatever the growing season may bring.

Main Photo Credit: Pixabay

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