A common issue North Texas homeowners face is poorly selected or improperly planted grass. There are many factors to consider when selecting a turfgrass and the most expensive grass does not always mean best. Turf grass really really goes hand in hand with your overall landscape design, and both should be given equal consideration. Sometimes turf grass may not even be the best option. Heavy shade or a big slope in your property? Then consider landscaping, ground cover, or even a hardscape option. Ultimately, your outdoor areas should be designed and given as much consideration as your indoor living space. But if turf is what you desire, these three grass varieties below are our favorite options for the Dallas/Ft Worth region.
North Texas is a warm season grass region. That means the grasses that will thrive best in our area will grow when soil temps are above 55-60 degrees and go dormant when they are below that. Our usual growing season is between April and November. Since we sometimes get occasionally get freezing temperatures, cold hardiness should also be taken into consideration. Ultimately, we have 4 main families of grass to choose from: Bermuda, Buffalo, St. Augustine and Zoysia. The top 3 varieties we picked all displayed characteristics of being well adapted to our region, low water and fertilizer needs, disease resistance, drought resistance and grow in full sun to partial shade. I have personal experience with each grass and recommend them to home owners frequently.
Palisades Zoysia is the grass we recommend the most, and it is my personal favorite grass. It was developed and released by Texas A&M University and is a variety of Zoysia japonica, which originally came to North America from Japan in 1895. While most people in our area plant it for it’s shade tolerance, I personally love it for it’s low water needs and looks. It has medium coarse grass blades and makes for a very thick, bright green turf. It can be mowed short, but also looks great tall. I mow our Palisades at around 3 1/2 inches in the summer to save on even more water. Palisades handles moderate shade, requiring a 4 hour minimum of sunlight. Most importantly, Palisades Zoysia is one of the most drought tolerant of the Zoysia family. In fact, some studies have shown it to survive up to 15 weeks without water.
Zorro is a thin blade variety of zoysia grass from the Zoysia matrella family. It looks similar to Emerald, and can be mowed a little lower than Palisades. 2-2 inches is probably a good height for Zorro. Zoysia grass in general is a slow spreader, with it’s stolons and rhizomes growing at half to a third of the rate of bermuda grass. Zorro zoysia in particular, is a thinner turf, so it’s not going to be a good option for a high traffic area. However, when it comes to shade tolerance, it’s among the best of warm season grasses. My experience is that it needs a minimum of 3 hours of full sun, but it can take less or filtered sunlight (like under a tree canopy) if is given time to establish. It also shows resistance to armyworms and chinch bugs, and has excellent drought tolerance. In my experience it can be slightly sensitive to One other problem I have observed is slight sensitivity to cold and can sustain freeze damage during the winter.
Bermuda grasses are famous for their heat tolerance, aggressive growth rate, and low maintenance requirements. It’s a very hard grass to mess up. What I like about Celebration Bermuda in particular, is that it makes a lush, thick turf that feels like a carpet under your feet. If you have traffic issues our outdoor dogs, this is going to be your best bet. Even if it sustains traffic damage, it should recover quickly during the growing season. It also has a natural, dark, blue-green color that looks like it was heavily fertilized even though it’s not (photos from a google search don’t really do it justice). So if you want grass that performs with minimal effort, Celebration Bermuda is your grass. Celebration Bermuda aka Cynodon dactylon originated from Australia, and displays similar drought and heat tolerant characteristics to our other two picks. While Bermuda grass is famously not great for shade, Celebration has demonstrated a higher shade tolerance than other Bermuda varieties. I think about a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight is a safe bet; not ideal for shade tolerance, but it has high marks in all of the other categories.
The Perfect Grass For Your Lawn
Obviously, there is no perfect grass for everyone’s lawn. Each lawn presents its own challenges and set of circumstances. And while certain varieties of grass may grow good in certain parts of your lawn, they may not grow well in others. One thing we try to encourage is to consider multiple varieties and blends over trying to just grow one type of grass on your property. The practice of growing just one type of turfgrass for your lawn is outdated and simplistic. Remember, we want to consider the entire outdoor environment and do what makes sense based on the are and your needs.
A quick word on synthetic grasses: I realize this may make some people shudder at the very thought, but I think synthetic grass (used the right way) may be an important solution to your outdoor needs. Here are the 2 areas where I might consider synthetic grass: 1) any area where foot traffic or scuffing may be an issue, such as an area around a pool or playset and 2) a dog run or area where they go to the bathroom. Even the best turfgrass needs time to recover from traffic damage from humans and animals. If we are in the middle of winter, it may take months before those areas can repair. So for those reasons and some practical ones like no watering and easy to clean, synthetic turf is a great option, especially for dog owners and families with small kids. Plus there are many new synthetic grasses that can almost pass for the real thing.
John Spriggs is the manager for Spriggs Brothers Organics and has 20 years of lawn and landscape experience in Dallas/Ft Worth area. If you have any questions or a topic for him to address in an upcoming blog, write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.