8 Best Grass Types for Virginia Beach

Aerial view of Virginia Beach coast and housing and downtown

Whether you’re enjoying the beach in the summer or whale watching in the winter, the climate in Virginia Beach is great for those who love to be outside. The hot summers and cool winters also mean that both warm- and cool-season grass can survive and thrive on your Virginia Beach lawn. 

The four best warm-season and four cool-season grasses for Virginia Beach include: 

  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Fine fescue 
  • Tall fescue 
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • St. Augustine 
  • Zoysia 
  • Bahiagrass
  • Bermudagrass

We have outlined the pros and cons of each grass type to help you choose the best one for your yard.   

Cool-season grasses 

What are cool-season grasses? Cool-season grasses thrive when temperatures are between 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit and grow between late summer and early winter and early spring to early summer.

1. Perennial ryegrass 

Perennial ryegrass is a versatile turf used for everything from golf courses to plush green carpets outside homes. This is a quick-growing grass (though not as quick as Kentucky bluegrass), and it can tolerate high heat and heavy foot traffic. Perennial ryegrass does struggle with drought and shade, and it can incur damage from ice and frost. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-forming grass that spreads by tillers 
  • Shade tolerance: Can tolerate light shade but needs 4-5 hours of full sun. 
  • Drought tolerance: Low
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High
  • Maintenance needs: Low
  • Recommended mowing height: 1½ – 2½ inches 

Note: Can be used on residential yards, parks, playgrounds, and golf courses. 

2. Fine fescue

Fine fescue does well in the shade, making it an excellent choice for properties covered with trees, bushes, or ground coverings. This low-maintenance grass doesn’t need a lot of fertilizing, watering or mowing, so it’s perfect for homeowners who don’t have a lot of time to spend on lawn care. One of the most beneficial attributes of fine fescue for Virginia Beach homes is its ability to be planted in difficult soils like sand and clay. 

Pros and cons: Fine fescue is drought-tolerant and recovers quickly after dormancy once the weather starts to cool down. Fine fescue doesn’t tolerate heavy foot traffic, though, so it may not be the best option if you have a large family or pets. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Forms in bunches and is spread by tillers 
  • Shade tolerance: High
  • Drought tolerance: High 
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low 
  • Maintenance needs: Low 
  • Recommended mowing height: 2½ – 3 inches

Notes: Grows slowly and doesn’t need to be mowed frequently, so it’s a good choice for places that are hard to reach with a mower. 

3. Tall fescue 

Tall fescue is one of the most shade-tolerant of all the cool-season grasses. It also has an extensive root system that is longer than many other cool-season grasses, making it more resistant to heat and drought. Tall fescue doesn’t grow or recover as quickly as Kentucky bluegrass or Bermudagrass, which means this grass is less likely to overrun your flower beds or gardens. In terms of maintenance, this grass is low growing — contrary to its name — so it doesn’t require a lot of mowing or fertilization. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch forming; spreads by tillers
  • Shade tolerance: Moderate 
  • Drought tolerance: High 
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High 
  • Maintenance needs: Low 
  • Recommended mowing height: 3 inches 

Note: Resists insects and diseases.

4. Kentucky bluegrass 

Kentucky bluegrass is revered for its beauty, cold tolerance, and quick recovery. It is a favorite for residential lawns, athletic fields, and parks because this grass has a high traffic tolerance. Although Kentucky bluegrass can withstand the cold, it can become dormant under periods of extreme heat or drought. Because Kentucky bluegrass requires full sun and lots of maintenance, this may not be the most suitable grass for every Virginia Beach homeowner. Those who are willing to put in the work, though, will be rewarded with a lush and green yard.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Rhizomes 
  • Shade tolerance: Moderate; thrives when getting at least 6 hours of sun a day 
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate 
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High 
  • Maintenance needs: Moderate; needs frequent watering because of its shallow root system
  • Recommended mowing height: 2½ – 3 inches

Note: Produces a lot of thatch which can leave it defenseless to insect and pest infestations

Warm-season grasses 

Warm-season grasses perform best when the outside temperature is between 80-95 degrees, and the best time to plant them in Virginia is between Mid-may to early June

5. St. Augustine

St. Augustine is a fast-growing grass great for yards with lots of shade. It can handle periods of drought better than Zoysia and bermudagrass, but it does need regular watering to survive. 

Pros and cons: If you want a lawn that can take a heavy amount of foot traffic, St. Augustinegrass is not the right choice. Note, though, that this grass requires a lot of maintenance as it’s also prone to insects and disease, especially fungi. When purchasing St. Augustinegrass, it can be hard to find seeds and is usually placed as sod or plugs. 

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons 
  • Shade tolerance: Low; there are variants of St. Augustinegrass that have more shade tolerance
  • Drought tolerance: High 
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate 
  • Maintenance needs: High
  • Recommended mowing height: 3½ – 4 inches 

Note: Can be planted in sandy soils

6. Zoysiagrass 

Zoysia’s fast-growing nature makes it quicker to recover after going dormant, but it can take over areas where you may not want the grass (flower beds and gardens). It can be planted in sandy soils, and its extensive root system makes it drought-tolerant. Zoysiagrass is low-maintenance and doesn’t need to be mowed as frequently as other warm-season grasses. 

Zoysia grass also does OK in partial shade but thrives under full sunlight.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons and rhizomes 
  • Shade tolerance: Moderate 
  • Drought tolerance: High
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High
  • Maintenance needs: Low
  • Recommended mowing height: 1-2 inches 

Note: Zoysiagrass can’t survive in poorly drained soils. 

7. Bahiagrass 

Bahiagrass performs the best in sandy soils because of its extremely extensive root system. This comprehensive root system also makes Bahiagrass drought and heat-tolerant, although it can turn brown under extended periods of extreme heat and little rainfall. Bahiagrass is a low-growing warm-season grass, so you won’t have to mow that often, but Bahia does have particular water and nutrient needs. 

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons 
  • Shade tolerance: Can tolerate light shade
  • Drought tolerance: High 
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low 
  • Maintenance needs: Low-maintenance
  • Recommended mowing height: 3-4 inches 

8. Bermudagrass 

Bermudagrass grows quicker than zoysia and can handle everything from floods to droughts. Because of its fast-growing nature, it’s resistant to weeds and pests and is resilient after damage.  

Pros and cons: Bermudagrass can be invasive to flower beds and gardens. It does not do well in the shade and needs full sunlight to survive. It is also not particularly cold-tolerant, but other bermudagrass varieties have been bred with a better ability to handle the cold. 

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons and rhizomes 
  • Shade tolerance: Low 
  • Drought tolerance: Good but will go dormant in extended periods of drought. 
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High 
  • Maintenance needs: High 
  • Recommended mowing height: 1½ – 2½ inches 

Notes: Grows well in sandy soils. 

How to select the best grass type for your yard

Each of the eight best grass types for Virginia Beach yards has advantages and disadvantages. 

Do you want a yard that is easy to maintain?

Bermudagrass is a low-maintenance warm-season grass that would be great for your yard.

Do you live right along the coast?

Turf-type tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and zoysiagrass have a high drought tolerance.

How many outdoor parties or yard games will be played in your yard?

If you have a lot of foot traffic on your grass, consider Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue perennial ryegrass or bermudagrass.

Do you hate to mow?

Consider planting bahiagrass because it is a low-growing warm-season turf. 

Once you’ve chosen the right grass type for your yard, how will you care for it? If you don’t want to buy a mower, edger, string trimmer, and other tools, or your weekends are already busy enough, find a lawn care pro near you to keep your yard lush, making your neighbors green with envy.

Main Photo Credit: Jason Pratt (FishSpeaker) | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

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