6 Best Grass Types for New Orleans

New Orleans French Quarter apartment homes and fenced in green area

Choosing a turfgrass to grow in your Big Easy lawn is no easy task, but we’ve done the legwork for you. Here are six grass types to consider for your New Orleans lawn.

  1. Zoysiagrass
  2. St. Augustinegrass
  3. Seashore paspalum
  4. Centipedegrass
  5. Carpetgrass
  6. Bermudagrass

1. Zoysiagrass

Zoysiagrass is a slow-growing grass that produces a dense, full lawn. As a slow-growing grass, it requires less frequent mowing and can tolerate some shade. It withstands traffic well, but due to its slow growth habit, it is slow to repair if wear or damage occurs. Zoysia requires minimal fertilization and is prone to thatch, so plan to dethatch regularly to keep this grass in prime condition. 

Zoysiagrass leaves range from fine to coarse, depending on the cultivar, and its color ranges from light to medium green. 

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons and rhizomes
  • Shade tolerance: Some cultivars tolerate partial shade
  • Drought tolerance: Needs supplemental irrigation during dry periods
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High, but slow to recuperate from damage
  • Maintenance needs: Moderate to high*
  • Mowing height: 1-2 inches
  • Potential for disease: Brown patch, dollar spot, and rust are common

Other notes: *As a slow-growing grass, Zoysia can be considered low-maintenance, but due to its tendency to develop thatch and slow recovery time, this grass may need dethatching a little at a time, meaning more than once per growing season. As a result, some consider this a high-maintenance grass. 

Zoysia doesn’t thrive in compacted soil, so plan to aerate if you have high foot traffic or heavy soil. Use up to 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year.

2. St. Augustinegrass

St. Augustinegrass is a popular grass in warm, humid climates like southern Louisiana. It is known for its relative shade tolerance (although sun is always preferable) and wide, coarse leaves. This bluish-green grass grows best in soils that are at least moderately fertile and well-drained. St. Augustine must be planted vegetatively (sod, plugs, or sprigs) since seed is not commercially available in most places.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons
  • Shade tolerance: Moderate*
  • Drought tolerance: Needs supplemental irrigation during dry periods
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low
  • Maintenance needs: Moderate to high
  • Mowing height: 2.5-3 inches in full sun or 3-3.5 inches in shade
  • Potential for disease: St. Augustine decline is a virus that can affect this grass. Chinch bugs, other insects, and large patch are problematic as well.

Other notes: *St. Augustinegrass has the best shade tolerance among warm-season grasses, but it will grow better in full sun, like all warm-season grasses. If you have partial shade, select a cultivar that has good shade tolerance. Plan to dethatch if thatch levels get above ½ inch. Apply up to 3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year.

3. Seashore paspalum

Seashore paspalum, also known as saltwater couch grass, is often used on sports turf or home lawns where saltwater is an issue. It needs non-saline water to become established, but once it is established, this grass can tolerate ocean-level salinity. As a homeowner, you’ll only want to consider this grass if you have a professionally managed lawn. If this grass is professionally maintained, it has a low incidence of disease and insect issues.

Seashore paspalum has medium-textured leaves and a dark green color during the summer season.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons and rhizomes
  • Shade tolerance: Very Low
  • Drought tolerance: Very low
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High
  • Maintenance needs: High
  • Mowing height: 1 inch
  • Potential for disease: Generally low if well maintained 

Other notes: This grass has a low cold tolerance and moderately high fertilization requirements. It prefers soil with a high pH between 6-8.

4. Centipedegrass

If you’ve ever heard of lazy man’s grass, you’ve heard of centipedegrass. Centipedegrass is a yellow-green colored turfgrass used in commercial lawns, cemeteries, and home landscapes where the owners want a low-maintenance lawn.

If you plant centipedegrass, you’ll have to dethatch periodically and you’ll need to aerate if you have compacted soils. As a slow-grower, you won’t have to mow as often as more aggressive grasses, and you can establish this grass with sod, plugs, or seed.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons
  • Shade tolerance: Low to moderate
  • Drought tolerance: Low to moderate
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low
  • Maintenance needs: Low
  • Mowing height: 1-2 inches
  • Potential for disease: Relatively low

Other notes: You can fertilize as little as once per year if you use a slow-release fertilizer. Prefers a pH between 5-6. If your lawn is prone to compaction, aerate your soil. Dethatch regularly to prevent dieback. Centipedegrass textures range from medium to coarse.

5. Carpetgrass

Also known as Louisianagrass, carpetgrass is a low-maintenance, utility option if you have poorly drained or infertile soils. On its own, this coarse-textured grass is somewhat attractive but is valued more for its utilitarian function. Mow at least once per week to cull its unattractive seedheads. 

This grass is often mixed with centipedegrass because it germinates faster and will reduce weed pressure as the centipede becomes established. In well-drained, fertile soils, the centipedegrass will eventually become the dominant grass. 

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons
  • Shade tolerance: Tolerates moderate shade
  • Drought tolerance: Low
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low
  • Maintenance needs: Low
  • Mowing height: 1-2 inches
  • Potential for disease: Low

Other notes: Aerate if your soil becomes compacted. Fertilize with 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year or less. Light green in color.

6. Bermudagrass

Bermudagrass is a fine-medium textured, all-purpose grass that is used in sports fields, home lawns, and golf courses across the state. It resists wear from foot traffic, and if it’s damaged, it repairs quickly due to its aggressive growth habit. 

Its tough-wearing abilities are prized by many homeowners. Whether you enjoy backyard entertaining or hosting local flag football games on your front lawn, bermuda can take the heat. It can also take the sun. This grass must be planted in full sun; it will not thrive in any amount of shade.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons and rhizomes
  • Shade tolerance: Very low
  • Drought tolerance: High
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High
  • Maintenance needs: High; grows quickly, so mow often
  • Mowing height: 1-2 inches
  • Potential for disease: High potential for disease, but bermuda will often overcome problems on its own. Proper mowing, watering, and fertilization are important to help prevent disease.

Other notes: If you have soil compaction, aerate the lawn. When thatch gets over ½” or ¾”, use a dethatching machine to remove excess thatch. Medium green color.

How to select the best grass type for your New Orleans lawn

Ask yourself a few questions about your home lawn before you make a final decision on which turfgrass is right for you. 

  • How much maintenance are you willing to do (or pay someone else to do)? 
    • Centipedegrass and carpetgrass are your best bets for a low-maintenance lawn. The other grasses on this list require an investment of time and effort.
  • Does your lawn get full sun?
    • All warm-season grasses grow best in full sun, but St. Augustinegrass can tolerate partial shade better than the other grasses on this list. There are different cultivars of St. Augustine, though, and some tolerate more shade than others. Do your research before you buy. 
  • Do you have watering restrictions or saline water?
    • Seashore paspalum tolerates saline water the best among these grasses. Bermuda has the highest level of drought tolerance.
  • How much activity do you have on your lawn?
    • Bermuda wins in the high foot traffic category; it can withstand and recover from traffic damage better than the other grasses. Seashore paspalum and Zoysia also tolerate foot traffic well, but Zoysia is slow to recover from damage.

If you become green with envy watching the Saints play on spotless turf (even if it is artificial), contact one of our New Orleans lawn care professionals. They’ll help you select and maintain a turfgrass that’s just right for your Big Easy lawn.

Main Photo Credit: llambrano | Pixabay

Sarah Bahr

Sarah is a writer who has previously worked in the lawn care industry. In her spare time, she likes to garden, raise chickens, and mow the grass with her battery-powered lawn mower.