Best Grass for a Southern California Lawn (Drought tolerant)

Southern California has a unique climate. And they don’t call it sunny California for no reason. But what is the best grass for southern California?

The best grass for Southern California is typically warm-season grasses like Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass. Bermuda grass is known for its durability and rapid growth, while St. Augustine grass is valued for its lush appearance and shade tolerance.

These grasses thrive in the region’s hot, dry summers and mild winters. Proper maintenance is essential for keeping these grasses healthy in Southern California’s unique climate.

With the right knowledge and understanding of the region’s unique climate challenges, you’ll be equipped to make informed decisions about the optimal grass type for your lawn.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the top grass varieties for Southern California, including warm and cool-season options, native alternatives, and even blending techniques for a year-round green look. Let’s begin our journey to a lush, thriving, and drought-tolerant lawn!

Short Summary

  • Understanding Southern California’s climate is key to selecting drought-resistant and drought-tolerant grasses like warm season Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine, and Bahia for optimal health.
  • Combining cool season Tall Fescue with warm season grasses in the region is a sustainable way to achieve year round green look while conserving water.
  • Native California species such as Bentgrass and Yarrow are becoming increasingly popular due to their low maintenance qualities making them ideal options for Southern California lawns.

Understanding Southern California’s Climate

Southern California’s climate is characterized by drought, high temperatures, and salty soils. These factors make it crucial to select the right grass type that can withstand such challenging conditions. Drought-resistant and drought-tolerant grasses are ideal choices for the region due to their deep roots that allow them to access water stored deep in the soil.

These grasses have a high level of drought tolerance, enabling them to remain active during long periods of hot and dry weather without going dormant or dying.

Warm-season grasses, including warm season grass, are the most appropriate for Southern California, given their heat and drought tolerance, which are key aspects of the Southern California climate.

Warm season grasses tend to thrive in these conditions, making them a popular choice. Additionally, a blend of warm and cool-season grasses can also be considered to achieve a year-round green look.

It is essential to bear in mind essential aspects when opting for the correct grass. These could include water availability, soil type and sun exposure. These variables will determine which grass is most suitable.

Top Warm-Season Grasses for Southern California

Warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine, and Bahia grass, are well-suited for Southern California due to their heat and drought tolerance. While they thrive in the region’s high temperatures, they do become inactive during the winter months, requiring special care to ensure a healthy, lush lawn.

To keep warm-season grasses healthy during the winter, it is important to reduce the amount of water and fertilizer applied. Additionally, mowing should be done less frequently.

Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass is a highly popular choice for lawns in Southern California, renowned for its robustness and ability to thrive in both clay and sandy soil due to its rhizomes and stolons. It is also one of the best drought-resistant grasses for the region, thanks to its durability, drought tolerance, water-efficiency, ability to thrive in full sun and hot temperatures, and its capacity to withstand heavy foot traffic.

Caring for Bermuda grass requires regular mowing, about once a week during the growing season, at a height of no less than 3/8” and no more than 2”. For optimal growth, Bermuda grass should be planted during the summer months with adequate watering and fertilized every four to eight weeks during the growing season with an all-purpose fertilizer.

Once established, Bermuda grass should be watered regularly according to the weather. During warm weather it should receive water three times a week, and during cooler periods once or twice a week.

Zoysia Grass

Zoysia grass is a dense, heat-tolerant grass popular in Southern California due to its ability to withstand heavy foot traffic, low maintenance requirements, and adaptability to partial shade and various soil types.

This resilient grass is also water-efficient and can self-repair in times of drought. Zoysia grass thrives in both clay and sandy soil, making it a versatile option for Southern California lawns. With its heat and drought tolerance, this grass is an excellent choice for busy lawns and areas that receive a lot of foot traffic.

St. Augustine Grass

St. Augustine grass is a fast-growing, dark green, and coarse-textured grass that prefers full sun and is salt-tolerant. But for a perfect St. Augustine lawn, consider plugs or sod over seeds.

However, it requires more watering and higher humidity compared to other warm-season grasses like Bermuda grass.

This makes it suitable for Southern California’s coastal areas or coastal valleys.

To care for St. Augustine grass, it’s recommended to mow at a height of two to three inches and water approximately one inch per week during its growing season, with sandy soils potentially requiring more water. For optimal growth, an all-purpose fertilizer providing one pound of nitrogen for every 1,000 square feet should be applied every two months.

Bahia Grass

Bahia grass is an excellent choice for Southern California due to its resilience in difficult conditions, preference for full sunlight, and deep root system that facilitates access to water and nutrients. This grass type is highly regarded for its exceptional tolerance to drought and heat, and its ability to thrive in challenging conditions with minimal fertilization and maintenance.

Bahia grass is well-suited for large areas of land that need a hardy, drought-resistant turf, making it a popular choice for Southern California lawns that face harsh weather conditions and water scarcity.

Cool-Season Grass Options for Southern California

Cool-season grasses are active in cool months and dormant in warm months, remaining green all year. Tall Fescue is the only cool-season grass suitable for Southern California due to its heat and drought tolerance.

However, it prefers shady areas, making it an ideal choice for lawns with tree cover or other vegetation.

Tall Fescue Grass

Tall Fescue grass is a cool-season grass that can tolerate heat and drought, making it a suitable option for Southern California. It is best suited for shady areas and requires regular reseeding to maintain its lush appearance. This grass type is known to thrive in both warm and cool months and in a variety of soil types, making fescue grasses a popular choice.

To care for Tall Fescue grass, it’s important to water approximately one inch per week during its growing season and mow at a height of two to three inches. Fertilizing Tall Fescue grass with an all-purpose fertilizer providing one pound of nitrogen for every 1,000 square feet every two months will ensure optimal growth and a healthy, green lawn.

Creating Drought Tolerance on Your Lawn in Southern California

Implementing grass management techniques, such as developing deep root systems, less frequent and thorough watering, proper mowing, and avoiding fertilizers and pesticides during drought, can create drought tolerance in your lawn.

These practices not only help maintain a healthy lawn but also contribute to the conservation of water resources, which is crucial in a region like Southern California where water scarcity is a pressing issue.

By choosing the best drought-tolerant grass varieties like Bermuda, UC Verde Buffalo, Native California Bent grass, and Zoysia, and combining them with the aforementioned grass management techniques, you can achieve a lush and sustainable lawn that can withstand the challenging climate conditions of Southern California.

Native California Grass Alternatives

Native California grass species like California Bentgrass and Yarrow are becoming more popular due to their low-maintenance, eco-friendly, and drought-resistant qualities. These grasses are well-adapted to Southern California’s climate, making them an ideal choice for homeowners seeking a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lawn option.

California Bentgrass is a drought-tolerant grass with low water requirements, making it a great choice for areas with limited water resources. Yarrow, on the other hand, is a mat-forming plant native to California that flourishes in direct sunlight and can endure dry spells.

Both of these native grass alternatives offer unique benefits and can contribute to a more eco-friendly and sustainable lawn in Southern California, making them the best grass options for the region.

Blending Warm and Cool-Season Grasses in Southern California

A blend of warm and cool-season grasses can achieve a year-round green look with less water use in Southern California.

This approach takes advantage of the strengths of both types of grasses, providing a lush, green lawn even during the dormant periods of each grass type.

By combining warm-season grasses like Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine, and Bahia with cool-season grasses like Tall Fescue, you can create a sustainable and aesthetically pleasing lawn that stays green all year.

For optimal blending of warm and cool-season grasses in Southern California, it is recommended to plant the warm-season grasses in the spring and the cool-season grasses in the fall. This will create a year-round green look with reduced water consumption, taking advantage of the unique characteristics of each grass type.

Planting Grass Seed in Southern California

To plant grass seed in Southern California, it’s important to consider the location and grass type.

Warm-season grasses should be planted from late winter to summer, while cool-season grasses should be planted in mid to late fall or early spring, depending on the area. When it comes to lawn care, understanding the suitable planting season for your grass species and location is crucial. This is vital for keeping a lush and vigorous lawn.

By selecting the most suitable type of grass for Southern California, such as Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass, or St. Augustine grass, and planting it at the right time, you can create a thriving lawn that will not only withstand the region’s challenging climate but also contribute to water conservation efforts.

And if you have recently moved from Northern California to Southern California (rogue Dodgers fan?) just be aware that the types of grass that do well in NorCal aren’t necessarily the best for SoCal.

What to look for when buying grass seed


In conclusion, creating a lush, thriving, and drought-tolerant lawn in Southern California is achievable with the right knowledge and understanding of the region’s unique climate challenges.

By selecting the most suitable grass type, such as warm-season grasses like Bermuda, St. Augustine, Zoysia, and Bahia, or cool-season grasses like Tall Fescue, and implementing grass management techniques to create drought tolerance, you can enjoy a sustainable and beautiful lawn all year round.

So, go ahead and transform your Southern California lawn into an oasis that not only withstands the challenging climate but also contributes to a more sustainable and eco-friendly environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of grass is best for Southern California?

For Southern California, the best type of grass is Bermuda grass. This drought-resistant variety can thrive in the high temperatures and is perfect for high-traffic areas. It also requires less maintenance than other types of grass, making it a great option for those looking to save time on lawn care.

The best type of grass for Southern California is Bermuda grass due to its ability to thrive in the area’s high temperatures and its resistance to drought. It is also well suited for high-traffic areas and requires less maintenance than other varieties, making it an ideal choice for lawn care.

What is the easiest grass to grow in Southern California?

For those looking for the easiest grass to grow in Southern California, Bermuda grass is an excellent choice. It requires minimal maintenance and watering, is able to withstand drought conditions, and is very hardy. This grass will grow in a variety of soils and climates, making it an ideal choice for the area.

Can cool-season grasses be grown in Southern California?

Yes, cool-season grasses such as Tall Fescue can be grown in Southern California, since it is highly heat and drought tolerant.

How can I create drought tolerance in my Southern California lawn?

The key to creating a drought tolerant lawn in Southern California is good grass management. This involves developing deep root systems, limiting fertilizer and pesticide usage, mowing correctly, and watering infrequently but thoroughly when needed.

Taking these steps will help ensure your lawn is equipped to withstand dry spells.

When is the best time to plant grass seed in Southern California?

If you live in Southern California, the best time to plant grass seed is between late winter and summer for warm-season grasses or mid to late fall or early spring for cool-season grasses.

These are the optimal times for planting grass seed in Southern California, as the climate and weather conditions are most favorable for the grass to take root and grow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top Related Posts