If you reside in the south or transition zone where warm season grasses are dominant, you already know choosing a variety and maintaining it can be challenging. The warm season grasses are commonly started vegetatively in the lawn as sod or stolons and require good soil to get a good start. Unlike the cool season grasses, warm season grasses grow best with temperatures between 80 to 95 degrees F.

As most warm season grasses will turn brown with the arrival of cooler temperatures, it is common to overseed (also called winter overseeding) with ryegrass each fall. The ryegrass helps the lawn maintain a green color during the winter months and then go dormant in the heat of summer when the warm season grasses are at their best.

When considering a warm season grass, consider the features that are important to you in the grass characteristics and the type of "use" your lawn will experience. Below is a chart of the different warm season grasses and inherent characteristics of each variety.

Properties of selected warm season grasses

Feature Buffalo Centipede Common Bermuda Hybrid Bermuda St Augustine Tall Fescue Zoysia
Drought tolerance High Low to medium Medium to high Low to medium Medium Low Medium to high
Traffic tolerance Medium to high Low High Medium to high Low Medium High
Shade tolerance Low Medium to high Low Low to medium High High Medium to high
Fertilizing requirement Low Low Medium to high High Medium Medium Fine to medium
Leaf texture Fine Medium to coarse Medium Fine Coarse Medium Fine to medium
Mowing height High Medium to high Medium Low High High Medium
Cold tolerance High Medium to high Medium Low to medium Low High High
Heat tolerance High High High High High Medium High
Thatching tendency Low Medium Low High Medium to high Low Medium to high
Acid soil tolerance Low Medium Medium Medium Low High Low to medium