3 Best Grass Types in St. Louis, MO

grass with soil

Located in the heart of the Midwest, St. Louis experiences summers that are humid, hot, and did I mention humid? The region is considered to be in the transition zone dividing the Northern and Southern regions of the country. Trying to find a grass that can survive the summers, as well as frigid winters, doesn’t have to be challenging with these three best grass types for St. Louis.

Each grass type has its own pros and cons that can help you decide which one will give you a beautiful lawn that won’t die after one season. Check out the following best grasses to plant in the St. Louis area.

Zoysiagrass

close-up of zoysiagrass
Zoysiagrass
Photo Credit: Forest and Kim Starr / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0 US

This hardy warm-season grass does great in humid St. Louis summers but will turn tan from early fall to late spring. If you are looking for a grass that thrives during the summer, Zoysia is a great choice. It can also handle heavy foot traffic and drought during hot St. Louis summers.

Zoysia can take longer to establish than other grass varieties, but once it takes hold, it creates a dense and tough lawn with a deep root structure. During drought years, Zoysia is a good choice because it requires 50% less water to stay green compared to Kentucky bluegrass.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Rhizomes and stolons
  • Shade Tolerance: Low to moderate; requires six to eight hours of sunlight
  • Drought Tolerance: High, but will require water during an extended drought
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: High, slow to recover
  • Maintenance Needs: Moderate, prone to thatch
  • Mowing Height: 1-2 inches; raise by ½ inch to an inch in the fall 
  • Potential for Disease: Low

Tall Fescue

Tall Fescue Grass
Tall Fescue Grass
Photo Credit: Matt Lavin / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

If you want a green lawn for much of the year, tall fescue is one of the best grass seeds to plant in Missouri. Tall fescue will turn green in early spring and should stay green until the first frost. However, tall fescue can struggle in the hot and humid St. Louis summers. This grass is the most heat and drought-tolerant of the cool-season grasses and grows in bunches.

Tall fescue grows best during the spring and fall months, and fall overseeding helps to maintain a uniform appearance. It is a great choice for St. Louis lawns as it requires 25% less water than Zoysiagrass to stay green. It also does well when mixed with other grasses like Kentucky bluegrass. Tall fescue is durable and disease-resistant. 

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type
  • Shade Tolerance: Moderate
  • Drought Tolerance: Moderate; may require more irrigation during dry summers
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: Moderate
  • Maintenance Needs: Low to moderate; may require frequent mowing
  • Mowing Height: 3-4 inches
  • Potential for Disease: Low; watch for brown patch 

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass
Kentucky Bluegrass
Photo Credit: Ethan2039 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

As the all-time favorite for many homeowners, Kentucky bluegrass offers a lush, durable, and dense lawn. This cool-season grass does well in northern parts of the country but can also do well in the transition zone of the St. Louis area. It does well in winter but may struggle with heat and drought depending on the variety and if it’s mixed with other grass types.

Kentucky bluegrass needs more maintenance than other grass varieties, but the payoff is an exceptionally beautiful lawn. As a cool-season grass type, it grows best during the spring and fall seasons. Watering will be needed throughout the St. Louis summers to keep this shallow-rooted grass at peak performance.

It’s recommended that Kentucky bluegrass be mixed with other varieties when used in St. Louis lawns. This grass grows well in a 90:10 mix by volume of tall fescue to Kentucky bluegrass.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Rhizomes
  • Shade Tolerance: Low
  • Drought Tolerance: Moderate
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: Moderate
  • Maintenance Needs: High
  • Mowing Height: 2 ½ – 3 ½  inches
  • Potential for Disease: Moderate

A note on Bermudagrass: While Bermudagrass works well for the southern parts of Missouri, the temperatures in St. Louis during the winter months are unsuitable for this grass.

How to Choose the Best Grass for Your St. Louis Lawn

You have your pick of the best grasses for St. Louis: Zoysiagrass, tall fescue, and Kentucky bluegrass. But which one is the best fit for your yard?

Maintenance

Not all grass is created equal, and some grass requires more work than others. Consider how much work you want to put into your yard each week before choosing a grass type.

High-maintenance: Kentucky bluegrass

Moderate maintenance: Zoysiagrass

Low-maintenance: Tall fescue (low to moderate)

Shade

Is your yard covered with trees? How much shade does your lawn receive? Will the grass you want be able to survive in a lot of shade? Think about whether or not your grass of choice can tolerate the shade conditions of your yard.

Moderate shade tolerance: Zoysiagrass, tall fescue

Low shade tolerance: Kentucky bluegrass

Foot Traffic

You now know the best grasses to plant in St. Louis. But if you’re someone who loves to host outdoor activities, you’ll want to pick one that can keep up with a high degree of foot traffic.

High foot traffic tolerance: Zoysiagrass

Moderate foot traffic tolerance: Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue

Bring in the Professionals

Grass can seem deceivingly simple when looking at a lawn. Yet picking out a esuitable grass that will survive in St. Louis’s climate requires a more careful look. You’ve gone through the trouble of picking out the best grass, so let someone else do the work. Hire a St. Louis lawn care professional to take care of your grass so you don’t have to.

Main Image Credit: Oregon State University / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

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Nikki Moore