Wichita’s hot summers and cold winters make it a challenge for homeowners to choose a grass type for their lawn.

Warm-season grass or cool-season grass? Warm-season grass will grow best during Wichita’s summer months but will be too hard to maintain in cold winter. Cool-season grass thrives in winter but will undergo heat stress in summer.

You won’t find a turf that will flourish in extreme seasons (part of living in a transition zone), but some grasses are more adaptive than others. If opting for a cool-season grass, choose one that tolerates Wichita’s warmer temperatures. This way, the cool-season grass will survive its dormancy when the hot summer arrives.

Remember to choose a grass that works for your lifestyle. If you have little time for maintenance and watering, then a drought-resistant and low-maintenance turf will suit you best.

Kansas State University recommends four grass types for Sedgwick County lawns. Each turf requires a different level of maintenance and holds a unique set of tolerances.

1. Tall fescue

Tall fescue, although a cool-season grass, tolerates warm summer temperatures. It stays green during cool seasons but will enter dormancy during severe hot and cold temperatures. Well adapted to both sunny and shady areas, tall fescue creates a coarse-textured lawn with good weed and disease resistance.

Classification: Cool-season grass.

Spreads by: Unlike most grasses that spread by horizontal stolons and rhizomes, Tall fescue is a bunch-forming grass. It spreads in clumps and through tillers. Tillers are vertical shoots that grow from the grass’ base. This method of growth makes the grass easy to contain, but it limits the turf’s ability to self-repair after damage.

Shade tolerance: Moderate.

Drought tolerance: Moderate.

Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate to high.

Maintenance needs: Tall fescue requires little maintenance. It tolerates infrequent mowing and will not invade nearby flowerbeds. Because the turf is a bunch-forming grass, its growth habit may develop open areas that will need reseeding.

Recommended mowing height: Optimal mowing height is 1.5 to 3 inches. Mowing below 1.5 inches will cause thinning.

2. Bermudagrass

Bermudagrass grows best in full sun and will thrive in Wichita’s hot summers. Despite its low tolerance for winter temperatures, this turf does well against drought conditions. Bermudagrass creates a densely compacted ground cover and has a high salt tolerance.

Classification: Warm-season grass.

Spreads by: Bermudagrass spreads rapidly through stolons (above-ground stems) and rhizomes (underground stems) and will invade any nearby flowerbeds.

Shade tolerance: Poor. Thrives in full sun.

Drought tolerance: High. Will persist during drought conditions.

Foot traffic tolerance: High foot and vehicle tolerance, but can be damaged from traffic during the winter months.

Maintenance needs: Because of its rapid growth, this grass builds up thatch that will need removing. It can stand up to drought conditions, but not to diseases and pests. You will need to spend some time maintaining this grass.

Recommended mowing height: Bermudagrass should be cut at a height of 1 to 2 inches and requires mowing one to two times per week.

3. Zoysiagrass

Zoysiagrass has a high salt tolerance and can be used in a variety of soil types. It varies in texture and works great in residential and commercial landscapes as well as athletic fields.

Classification: Warm-season grass.

Spreads by: Stolons and rhizomes.

Shade tolerance: High shade tolerance.

Drought tolerance: Will go dormant within a week of typical drought conditions. Will require more irrigation than most warm-season grasses.

Foot traffic tolerance: High foot traffic tolerance.

Maintenance needs: Zoysia requires fertilizer to thrive. The grass responds best to small amounts of fertilizer at frequent intervals rather than a heavy application once a year. It does need frequent watering in drought conditions.

Zoysiagrass will begin to develop heavy thatch buildup and will need core aeration every one or two years. Due to its thick growth pattern, the grass can defend itself against invading weeds. But, it is vulnerable to harmful insects that feed on Zoysia’s roots.

Zoysia grass is also susceptible to large patch disease. The disease becomes active when soil temperatures are between 65°F and 75°F.

Recommended mowing height: Mow Zoysia once a week or when the height has reached 3 to 4 inches. The grass should be mowed to an optimal height of 2 to 2.5 inches.

4. Buffalo grass

This warm-season grass is one of the most drought-resistant grasses. This makes it a viable option for homeowners who prefer low-maintenance lawns. Buffalo grass has a long winter dormancy and can survive with little fertilizer and mowing.

Classification: Warm-season grass.

Spreads by: Stolons.

Shade tolerance: Low.

Drought tolerance: High.

Foot traffic tolerance: Low.

Maintenance: Buffalo grass is a low-maintenance turf. It will survive in severe drought conditions and recover well once irrigation has resumed.

Recommended mowing height: In full sun, optimal turf height is 1 inch. If in the shade, mow to a height of 2 inches. Frequent mowing is not needed when given minimal fertilizer.

So, what type of grass will you want for your lawn in the “Air Capital of the World?” Our guide above should help you to assess your options. Then all you will need to do is sit back, relax and watch the grass grow — and plot how you will mow it when it gets taller.

Need help preparing your lawn? Visit our Wichita lawn care page to get in touch with a professional! In addition to Wichita, we provide lawn care services in other Kansas cities, including Haysville and Andover.

Jane Purnell is a freelance writer and actor in New York City. She earned her B.A. from the University of Virginia and enjoys a warm cup of French press coffee.