When you live in a city that regularly ranks in “Best of” lists — “18th Best Place to Live” and the “2nd Happiest City in America” — your yard also has to live up to the hype. But with Irvine’s dry, summer subtropical climate, and lack of rainfall, growing an attractive lawn will take a bit of work.

Because the city is prone to drought, water conservation is a priority. The Overwatering Is Out campaign encourages homeowners to check sprinkler systems for water use, fix leaks, and remove “thirsty turf.” In keeping with these actions, here’s a look at the five best grass types to grow in Irvine.

1. Buffalograss

Here, we’re speaking of UC Verde Buffalograss. Cultivated by the University of California for use in our climate, this type has a bright green color and fine leaf blades.

Classification: Warm-season grass

Spreads by: Above-ground stems called stolons

Shade tolerance: UC Verde Buffalograss has a low shade tolerance and requires full sun.

Drought tolerance: Very high — cultivated for this purpose.

Foot traffic tolerance: Tolerates moderate traffic of people and pets. The grass feels soft underfoot.

Maintenance needs: Low. Only needs about ¼ inch of water per week to maintain color during the summer. Its denseness keeps weeds at bay and pests are not a problem. Fertilize five times from late February through early September.

Recommended mowing height: Mow once every two to three weeks to a height of 1 to 1.5 inches.

2. Bentgrass

An eco-friendly lawn option because of its low water needs, native bentgrass boasts a dark green color and meadow-like turf.

Classification: Cool-season grass

Spreads by: Underground stems called rhizomes

Shade tolerance: Grows well in partial shade and full sun.

Drought tolerance: High. Dormant in summer, but can stay green with occasional watering — needs half the water required by other cool-season types.

Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate. Its self-repairing rhizomes help with recovery.

Maintenance needs: Low. Water, at most, once a week.

Recommended mowing height: To maintain a manicured lawn look mow weekly to a height of 1.5 to 2 inches.

3. Tall Fescue

The most common choice for SoCal lawns, tall fescue has a dark green hue, narrow blades, and a semi-coarse texture. It’s perfect for our area because it can thrive in a range of temperatures.

Classification: Cool-season grass

Spreads by: Vertical shoots called “tillers” for bunch-type growth

Shade tolerance: Prefers sun, but can tolerate partial shade

Drought tolerance: High tolerance for drought and heat because of its deep root system.

Foot traffic tolerance: Durable, sturdy blades help with its resistance to wear and tear.

Maintenance needs: Low. While it does require moderate to high amounts of water, the need is infrequent. Fertilize during the growing season.

Recommended mowing height: Mow about every two weeks to a height of 1.5 to 3 inches.

4. Bermudagrass

Salt-tolerant Bermudagrass ranges in color from blue-green to dark green to gray-green. It sports medium to coarse, pointed blades. During the fall and winter months, this type goes dormant and loses its color.

Classification: Warm-season grass

Spreads by: Stolons and rhizomes

Shade tolerance: Low. Bermudagrass loves full sun.

Drought tolerance: High. Needs little watering.

Foot traffic tolerance: Withstands heavy foot traffic best during its growing season but may become damaged during winter dormancy.

Maintenance needs: Common types are lower maintenance, requiring less fertilization per year than hybrid varieties. Water occasionally, but deeply, to reach roots. Bermudagrass resists pests.

Recommended mowing height: Mow weekly to a height of 1 to 1.5 inches. For hybrids, mow to a height of 0.5 to 0.75 inches.

5. St. Augustinegrass

Identified by its wide, boat-shaped blades, St. Augustinegrass is salt-tolerant and has a medium to dark green color.

Classification: Warm-season grass

Spreads by: Stolons

Shade tolerance: High for a warm-season grass, but still prefers full sun

Drought tolerance: This turf type has a high tolerance for drought and heat.

Foot traffic tolerance: St. Augustinegrass can stand up to regular lawn traffic.

Maintenance needs: Fertilize with iron and nitrogen during the growing season, and water once or twice per week. Scalping and thatching can occur if not mowed frequently.

Recommended mowing height: Mow weekly to a height of 1 to 2 inches.

Need help preparing your lawn? Visit our Irvine lawn care page to get in touch with a professional! In addition to Irvine, we provide lawn care services in other California cities, including Los Angeles and Sacramento.

Main image credit: Azusa Tarn, CC by-SA 4.0