Guide to Common Grass Types in Greenville, SC

Here in Greenville, South Carolina, we have the luxury of a mostly mild climate that makes relaxing outdoors an enjoyable pastime for most folks. Unfortunately, it’s easy to sabotage the health of your lawn by growing the wrong kind of grass for your soil type and weather patterns.

In our state, there are two categories of grass: cool-season grasses (designed for a colder climate) and warm-season grasses (designed for a warmer climate). Cool-season grasses will grow well when temperatures don’t rise above seventy-five degrees, while warm-season grasses will thrive in hot weather (including temperatures that soar above 90 degrees).

Select one of these grass types to make growing a lush, verdant lawn an absolute cinch.

1. Centipede grass

Mowing height: 1 ½- 2 inches
Category: Warm
Soil type: Acidic
Sun: Full to partial shade
Traffic tolerance: Poor tolerance

Centipede grass is one of the most popular grass types in South Carolina. It is an excellent choice for homeowners who are seeking thick, healthy-looking lawns that require minimal mowing and fertilizing. It grows slowly but can tolerate full sun or partial shade. It is unique in that it only produces above-ground runners and can, therefore, be easily controlled near flower beds and other structures, eliminating the need for herbicide in these areas.

Recommended: Scotts EZ Seed Patch and Repair Centipede Grass

2. Bermudagrass

Mowing height: 1 ½-2 inch
Category: Warm season
Soil type: Sandy to silt
Sun: Full
Traffic tolerance: High tolerance

Another warm-season grass, common bermudagrass cultivates rapidly, producing a nice-looking lawn in less than a year. This drought-tolerant pick tolerates salt spray and foot traffic well and can grow in any sunny location. It does not tolerate shade at all, and requires frequent fertilizing and mowing to stay lush.

Recommended: Scotts EZ Seed Patch and Repair Bermudagrass

3. Annual Ryegrass


Mowing height: 1 ½-2 ½ inches
Category: Cold-season
Soil type: Prefers loam or sandy loam
Sun: Full sun to partial shade
Traffic tolerance: Moderate tolerance

This cold-season grass can quickly be grown in Greenville as long as you overseed it with a dormant warm-season grass. It provides a green cover when your warm-season grass has turned brown, making it a good choice for winter coverage. Some people opt instead for perennial ryegrass during this time, but that’s not a good choice as it can succumb to disease and die out during hot weather.

Recommended: Pennington Annual Ryegrass Retail Bag

4. Tall Fescue

Mowing height: 3-4 inches
Category: Cold-season
Soil type: Any
Sun: Full sun
Traffic tolerance: Poor tolerance

Tall fescue is one of the most popular cold-season grasses in the country, as it is hardy and can grow in multiple types of climates. Most new tall fescues are now designed for lawns, offering a dark green color, thick blades, and exceptional shade tolerance. It’s best to overseed with other grass types when planting tall fescue, as it can thin considerably and become quite clumpy after summer dry spells. You may find that you need to reseed this grass type often for you to have a consistently attractive lawn.

Recommended: Pennington Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue Grass Seed

5. Zoysia grass

Mowing height: 1-2 inches
Category: Warm season
Soil type: Acidic
Sun: Full sun to partial shade
Traffic tolerance: High tolerance

Zoysia grass grows well throughout the year in Greenville, making a dense, green mat in the summer and turning a beautiful pale color during the winter months. It grows slowly, which can be a turn-off to some gardeners, but once it establishes itself, it can last quite some time as it has good cold tolerance. You need to take care when mowing zoysia grass, as it recovers slowly from injury.

Recommended: Scotts Turf Builder Zoysia Grass Seed

6. St. Augustine grass

Photo: Flickr / Nathan Thewlis

Mowing height: 2-3 inches
Category: Warm season
Soil type: Sandy
Sun: Full to partial shade
Traffic tolerance: High tolerance

Also known as Charleston grass, this grass type is commonly grown in coastal areas because it tolerates salt and shade quite well. It grows quickly, producing broad leaves and flat stems. It tends to grow in a dense mat, making it a durable turf grass. It can grow aggressively, and as a result may not be the best choice if you intend to use a blend for seeding your lawn. It has few issues, but can be prone to over watering or over fertilizing. It is not cold tolerant, but if you are seeking a more cold-tolerant cultivar, you can grow one of its variants (Palmetto or Raleigh) that can withstand and continue growth in colder weather.

In your quest for the perfect lawn, you may be tempted to dig up your existing turf and start from scratch. However, you can develop a beautiful yard in just a few short years by gradually overseeding and reseeding sections of your lawn with one of these Greenville-ready grass types. With a little bit of patience and a whole lot of TLC, you can have an attractive, hardy lawn in what will seem like no time.

Need help choosing the right grass for your lawn? Visit our Greenville lawn care page for more information!


Rachel Vogel