While many of us are dreading the summer heat, your summer grass is actually looking forward to it!   Bermuda, paspalum, and St. Augustine grasses do very well in the warmer climates, while fescue and blue/rye thrives in the cooler climates of northern California and Arizona.  Grasses flourish on temperatures that range from 90-105 degrees for warm season lawns, and 65-85 for cool season grasses.I realize that we will see several days over 105 degrees very shortly, but the truth is that it only helps to establish your lawn.  The extreme summer temperatures give you the opportunity to achieve maximum growth.  It also gives you a great chance to train the roots to grow deep and establish themselves by watering deep and infrequently.   Your grass loves heat and humidity—that’s why we see the most growth during our monsoon season. 

Which grass should you choose?

I am not here to tell you what grass you should use, but I will tell you the things to consider before choosing your lawn.  It is extremely important to ask yourself the following questions:

1)  Do you live in a warm or cool season climate?  

If you live in a warm climate you can choose between bermudagrass, seashore paspalum, and St. Augustine.  If you reside in a cooler part of Arizona or California then I recommend you look between the West Coaster tall fescue and our bluegrass/ryegrass mix. 

2) Does your yard get full sun, partial sun, partial shade or all shade?  

If you have a full sun area you can choose between any of the bermudas, paspalums, fescue, blue/rye and St. Augustine. 

Full sun indicates that your lawn gets complete sun between 10 am and 3 pm in the summer.  Afternoon sun does not have any effect on grass so afternoon shade will not hinder your lawn. 

Partial sun is a lawn that gets 3.5-4 hours of sun during 10 am and 3 pm.  For these situations your grasses of choice are BOBSod (Bull’s-Eye Bermuda) or St. Augustine in warmer climates and blue/rye or fescue in the cooler areas. 

Partial shade indicates that your lawn receives mostly shade during 10am and 3 pm, but you still receive 2.5-3 hours of sunlight.  For these areas you can choose between St. Augustine for warm climates, and fescue or blue/rye for cool season climates. 

If you have less than 2.5 hours of sunlight during the day you are going to struggle to grow any grass.  All living things need sunlight so your best option for this situation is a light pruning to at least allow for filtered sunlight throughout the day. 

3) Will you be mowing with a rotary or reel mower?

If you are using a reel mower than all of the grasses available on the market are well suited for you and your lawn.  If you will be using a rotary mower as most people do than you want to stick with grasses that can handle mowing heights of 3/4 inch or higher.  You will find that most grasses fit into this range except Tifgreen 328 and some of the ultra dwarf “Tif’s” on the market.  Some of the best home lawns have been proven  to be Sea Spray seashore paspalum, Platinum paspalum, BOBSod (Bull’s-Eye), Tifway II, and EZ- Turf in the warm season areas and fescue or blue/rye in the cool season areas.

4)   Are you willing to do the necessary maintenance to keep your lawn looking perfect all season long or are you looking for a lawn with virtually no maintenance except watering and mowing? 

All grasses on the market need to be lightly verticut, dethatched, and aerified at least once each season.  Hopefully you are not reading this saying that you don’t want to do any of these throughout the year so I am not going to put in any grass.  All of the items listed above are extremely simple to perform and all make for a healthy turfgrass plant. 

5) Do you want an environmentally friendly grass?

Try the new paspalums and realize how nice it is to cut 2/3rds of your nitrogen fertilizer program out each year.  Do you not like to overseed?  These are grasses that can hold  color 4-6 weeks longer than bermudagrasses and will green up 4-6 weeks earlier giving you a shorter dormancy period.  Check out my old blogs on this and check out the video with “The Garden Guy” to see just how amazing the color is on this warm season grass wonder.

6) What grass has the best drought tolerance?

I am not going to run through the list of each grasses’ drought tolerance, but I will tell you that these studies show  how long a grass can stay alive without watering, not how aesthetically pleasing they are.  You will have to water most grasses every 2-3 days throughout the summer season.

So ask yourself these questions before choosing your sod.  Don’t get caught up in the price of each particular grass– concentrate more on the attributes of the lawn you desire. 

Do you still have questions about what is best for you or your area?  Call us or e-mail us for advice.  We’re always willing to help you!

Until next time,


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