4 Best Grass Types in San Jose

San Jose, California, skyline

Of course, you know the way, but do you know the way to grow and care for a beautiful lawn in San Jose? That’s where we can help.

San Jose’s near-perfect weather (generally warm all year but with hot and dry summers) and water restrictions present some challenges when trying to grow and maintain a lawn suitable for your postcard life.

Let’s start with what makes for a stunning field of green in San Jose — spotlighting the four best lawn types and detailing the shade tolerance, drought resistance, needed maintenance and recommended mowing height:

1. Tall Fescue Grass

Tall fescue grass, with its broad, deep green blades, is one of the most popular turfs in California. This type of turf is low maintenance. It is salt-tolerant, making it a good choice for coastal areas. It also grows the best during the cooler and wetter winter months.

Classification: Cool-season grass.

Spreads by: Tall fescue grass grows in clumps and is spread through tillers (vertical shoots that grow from the base of the plant).

Shade tolerance: The moisture-absorbency of tall fescue grass makes it shade-tolerant and resistant to anything your dogs leave behind.

Drought tolerance:  Medium. Tall fescue grass will go dormant during dry spells.

Foot traffic tolerance: High, thanks to a deep root system.

Maintenance needs: Mow weekly, though less often if the grass is stressed due to drought. Treat for weeds and pests as necessary. Fertilize and add nitrogen routinely.

Recommended mowing height: Mow to 3¼ to 4 inches, During hot and dry months tall fescue lies dormant and won’t require much water or mowing.

San Jose State University, with its beautiful lawn in the foreground.
San Jose State University grounds

2. Zoysiagrass

Another of the best lawn types in San Jose is Zoysiagrass, which creates a dense carpet-like turf that stays a light- to medium-green throughout the year. Zoysia has a higher tolerance for cold than some other warm-season grasses, but it will turn brown during winter dormancy. On average, Zoysia stays green longer than other lawn types.

Classification: Warm-season grass.

Spreads by: Zoysia spreads with both rhizomes and stolons, meaning its above- and below-grown growth results in carpet-like lawns.

Shade tolerance: Zoysia prefers full sun but can handle light shade.

Drought tolerance: This turf is highly drought tolerant. Though it will turn straw-colored without water, Zoysia rebounds well with proper irrigation.

Foot traffic tolerance: Zoysia’s dense growth allows it to withstand yard games, pets, and groups of people really well.

Maintenance needs: Twice-yearly fertilization is important, and it is best done in the spring and summer. Add nitrogen during the growing season.

Recommended mowing height: Zoysia should be mowed weekly to about 1 or 2 inches above the soil.

3. Bermudagrass

Bermudagrass, with a coarse texture and dark green color, is a hardy lawn type that rebounds quickly. This lawn type, which grows actively from late spring through the hot summer months, requires some extra attention to thrive.

Classification: Warm-season grass.

Spreads by: Primarily above-ground, Bermudagrass spreads laterally with both stolons and rhizomes.

Shade tolerance: This turf prefers open areas with little shade.

Drought tolerance:  Very drought tolerant, Bermudagrass requires irrigation only during growing seasons that are especially hot or dry.

Foot traffic tolerance: Withstands heavy use and recovers quickly from stress.

Maintenance needs: Bermudagrass is higher-maintenance than other lawn types. It requires careful nutrient balancing and may need pesticides and herbicides.

Recommended mowing height: Bermudagrass should be cut about once a week and kept to a height of about 1.5 to 2.5 inches.

4. Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass, which tolerates the cooler months in the Bay Area, is another popular San Jose lawn type. This turf variety, because of its fairly coarse blades, can be tough to shear with older mowers. With sharp blades, though, this paler green grass is easy to maintain.

Classification: Cool-season grass.

Spreads by: Perennial ryegrass is a bunch-type grass that can appear patchy, but with quick establishment and rapid growth, it’s easy to achieve even coverage. How to deal with brown spots: Reseed the area and you should have a mowable height in less than three weeks.

Shade tolerance: Quite tolerant of shade.

Drought tolerance: Perennial ryegrass is drought- and salt-tolerant, adding to its ideal properties for San Jose yards.

Foot traffic tolerance: Overall very hardy, perennial ryegrass handles foot traffic well.

Maintenance needs: This variety of grass is naturally resistant to insects and disease, making taking care of it easy.

Recommended mowing height: Perennial ryegrass is best mowed weekly to a height between 1 and 2 inches.

With San Jose lawns, a blend of different lawn types may be your best course of action. For example, perennial ryegrass works very well for overseeding Bermudagrass, as the two varieties balance each other out.  Whatever lawn type you choose, with a little TLC, your family will have a beautiful space to relax and enjoy the California sun.

Need help preparing your lawn? Visit our San Jose lawn care page to get in touch with a professional! In addition to San Jose, we provide lawn care services in other California cities, including San Francisco and Palo Alto.

Main image credit: Adam SchultzCC by ND 2.0

Alison Hoover

Alison Hoover

Alison is a Midwesterner through and through, and loves to spend her time baking and reading. Always at home in the dirt, as a kid, Alison raised a vegetable garden with her dad, and flower gardens with her mom.