A green, healthy lawn is the pride and joy of many Texas homeowners. But no amount of proper care will keep your lawn looking its best if you start with the wrong type of grass in the first place.
In most parts of Texas, heat- and drought-tolerant grasses perform best. You also need to take into account things like how much shade your property gets each day and how you tend to use your lawn.
I’m willing to bet there’s a grass species out there that meets all of your needs. Keep reading for the 12 types of grass to grow in Texas that grow best plus expert tips that will help you get the most from your new lawn.
Grass Types That Thrive In Texas
It’s no secret that Texas is a big state. As a result, it contains several climates that sometimes call for different turfgrasses to achieve the best results.
Below I’ve outlined some of the best grass species to grow in Texas and why I recommend them to homeowners:
1. Bermuda Grass
Bermuda is easily one of the most popular turf grasses in Texas. In many areas, it makes up the vast majority of residential lawns.
Bermuda grass can be grown across the entire state of Texas but tends to do best in warmer regions. It is very drought-tolerant and can withstand heavy wear and tear from children and pets.
The main downside of Bermuda grass is that it needs full sun. If you have even a small amount of shade in your lawn, growing Bermuda will be very hit or miss.
2. Bent Grass
Creeping bentgrass is found throughout northern Texas primarily on golf courses. It boasts great shade and drought tolerance and spreads quickly via above-ground stems (called stolons).
The problem with bentgrass — and the reason you’ll rarely find it in residential lawns — is that it requires constant maintenance to thrive. While commercial golf courses can afford the labor and equipment needed to keep creeping bentgrass looking great, the average homeowner cannot.
3. Buffalo Grass
According to a turfgrass expert from the Texas Cooperative Extension, buffalo grass is one of Texas’ sole native grasses. However, buffalo grass only performs well in select parts of the state.
Buffalo grass is a good choice for your lawn if you live in a part of Texas with clay-rich soil that receives less than 25 inches of rainfall per year. For these reasons, homeowners in southeast Texas should avoid growing buffalo grass.
Keep in mind that this turfgrass does not tolerate shade or heavy foot traffic.
Considered a weed in some cases, carpetgrass is a specialized type of grass that thrives in damp, low-lying areas. These grasses are extremely common along the coastal regions of Texas and its neighboring states.
Carpetgrass has coarse blades that admittedly aren’t as attractive as many other types of turf grass. It’s not the most shade-tolerant grass grown in Texas but does perform better than many others. The main draw of carpetgrass is its ability to grow in areas where few other types of grass can survive.
5. Centipede Grass
This lawn type is a great option if you need a low-maintenance lawn and grows particularly well in east Texas. Centipede grass is also one of the most shade-tolerant varieties available in the southern United States.
Centipede grass lawns offer many benefits, including infrequent mowing and few (if any) competing weeds. Unfortunately, they aren’t suitable for areas that receive even moderate foot traffic.
Another problem with centipede grass is its lack of drought tolerance. I don’t recommend this grass if you’re concerned about water consumption.
6. Kentucky Bluegrass
In many parts of North America, Kentucky bluegrass is considered ideal for residential lawns, public parks, and other green spaces. While this cool-season grass won’t thrive in the hotter parts of Texas, it does perform quite well throughout the Panhandle region.
Many homeowners prize Kentucky bluegrass for its attractive texture and blue-green coloring. It also holds up well against wear and tear, thanks to its dense growth habit.
Kentucky bluegrass is another good choice for shaded areas and where more heat-tolerant grass species wouldn’t survive. It’s often mixed with tall fescue for such applications.
Ryegrass — which is typically divided up into annual and perennial varieties — is often considered a wheat-like weed due to its invasive nature but is also commonly used as a temporary lawn throughout Texas. For example, you can seed ryegrass over a warm-season turf like Bermuda grass to maintain a green lawn through winter.
Ryegrasses are also sometimes planted as erosion control because they grow very quickly. Since annual and perennial ryegrasses are short-lived in most of Texas, however, they must eventually be replaced with something more suitable to the climate.
Permanent ryegrass lawns can be grown in northeast Texas but require frequent irrigation.
8. Seashore Paspalum
Similar to carpetgrass, seashore paspalum is specifically adapted to the conditions of the Gulf Coast. According to the University of California, it grows in areas with the high salinity in both the soil and water (something that can’t be said for most other turf grasses).
Despite its hardy characteristics, seashore paspalum is incredibly similar to Bermuda grass in appearance. Seashore paspalum tolerates shade better than Bermuda grass but fares poorly when temperatures drop below 50°F.
Since seashore paspalum tolerates high salinity and struggles in the cold, it’s ideal for residential lawns along Texas’ southern coast.
9. St. Augustine
If you have a partially or fully shaded property, St. Augustine is your best chance at achieving a lush, green lawn with minimal headache.
It is the most shade-tolerant of all common warm-season grasses. Sadly, though, it only performs well in the eastern part of Texas. In all other areas, you should expect to irrigate very frequently.
Another concern when growing St. Augustine grass is its cold tolerance. Homeowners in colder parts of Texas may need to repair thin or bare patches in the springtime.
10. Tall Fescue
Tall fescue is an all-around good option for Texas homeowners in the northern part of the state. This grass offers moderate tolerance to shade and drought.
The primary limitation of tall fescue in Texas is its lack of heat tolerance. Many people achieve success by mixing tall fescue with warm-season grass that thrives in the summertime. In turn, the tall fescue takes over during the winter.
There have been many recent developments in tall fescue cultivars. Newer varieties offer improved shade and drought tolerance, and I’m excited to see what other advancements come in the near future.
11. Texas Bluegrass
Texas bluegrass is a modern cross between Kentucky bluegrass and turf varieties native to Texas. It is a relatively recent invention, so you may have trouble sourcing Texas bluegrass seed or sod.
Texas bluegrass is very similar to Kentucky bluegrass in appearance. In terms of range, however, Texas bluegrass is more akin to tall fescue.
Compared to Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue, Texas bluegrass boasts slightly better heat and drought tolerance.
12. Zoysia Grass
Many of the grass types I’ve mentioned here are ideal for specific growing conditions but aren’t necessarily well-rounded. Zoysia grass, on the other hand, is the closest thing to all-purpose turf you can find in Texas.
Zoysia grass offers moderate drought, shade, and cold tolerance and holds up to regular foot traffic. It also requires less nitrogen than other warm-season grasses. You can successfully grow zoysia grass in all but the western edge of Texas.
Tips for Growing Grass In Texas
Planting the right grass type for your property will only go so far. If you want the best lawn possible, you also need to provide some basic care.
Keep in mind that each grass type comes with unique maintenance needs. However, most grasses suitable for Texas have fairly similar care requirements. Combine the tips below with more specific advice for your chosen grass species for the best results.
Mowing Your Lawn Short
Most grasses that grow well in Texas are categorized as warm-season varieties. This means they grow better in the heat than they do in the cold.
As a general rule, warm-season grasses perform best when kept relatively short. Depending on the exact species, I recommend maintaining your lawn between 1 and 3 inches tall. Do not cut more than one-third of your lawn’s height in a single mowing session.
Healthy, vigorous turf is better able to survive harsh conditions like drought, shade, and heat. While Texas lawns often need a lower rate of nitrogen than other parts of the United States, fertilizing once or twice per year will still yield the best results.
I recommend applying a lawn fertilizer designed for warm-season grasses in the spring. Slow-release granules formulas typically work best. If desired, you can apply a second dose at least 6 weeks before your area’s first frost in the fall.
The best advice I can give when it comes to watering your Texas lawn is to plant a grass species that requires as little irrigation as possible. With that said, there may still be times when watering your lawn is necessary.
Watering infrequently but deeply will encourage turf grass to develop extensive root systems that penetrate deep into the soil. A deeper root system will aid your lawn in surviving future drought and heat stress.
Laying New Lawn In Texas
Deciding what type of grass to plant often goes hand in hand with choosing between seed and sod.
Note that not all grass types are available as seeds. St. Augustine is the most common example of this. Centipede grass is also difficult to establish from seed. If you want to start a St. Augustine or centipede lawn, you must rely on sod or sprigs instead.
Growing From Seed
Starting a lawn from seed is inexpensive and DIY-friendly. Almost anyone can seed a lawn using basic equipment like a hand rake and broadcast spreader.
Growing turf grass from seed offers tons of flexibility. You can easily repair thin or bare patches in your lawn using new seeds. You can also mix several types of seed to create a lawn with the characteristics of multiple grass species.
The main complaint most homeowners have about grass seed is that it can take a long time to sprout and establish. Even fast-germinating grass species require several months to develop mature root systems. Seeding a large area by hand can also be incredibly time- and labor-intensive.
Sod is the quickest way to start a lawn from scratch. Unfortunately, it’s also much more expensive than planting grass seed.
For some homeowners, the prospect of instant results makes the cost of sod 100% worth it. Just keep in mind that sod needs several weeks to develop deep roots. It may look established on the surface but new sod is still quite delicate.
Another benefit of sod is that it can be installed during most parts of the year. This isn’t the case for grass seeds, which must be planted at a specific time. If you need to start a lawn during a time when grass seed will struggle to grow, sod may be the only option.
Artificial Grass In Texas
Artificial turf is somewhat common in more arid parts of Texas where growing a grass lawn may be impractical. If having the look of a traditional lawn is your main concern, artificial grass might be a viable solution.
While artificial grass has its time and place, the material is far from perfect. Artificial turf can get incredibly hot in full sun and isn’t as soft to the touch as real grass. Heavy foot traffic (including that from pets and children) can significantly cut down the expected lifespan of an artificial lawn.
I understand the desire to have a lush lawn regardless of whether the local climate can sustain one. In most cases, however, I much prefer the look and practicality of xeriscaping. You may even want to think about installing artificial turf in a small area of your lawn while transforming the rest into a drought-resistant landscape.
For more advise and tips on how and what to grow in Texas, here’s a link to 11 Plants That Grow Well in Shade in Texas.
FAQs Types Of Grass To Grow In Texas
Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.