4 Best Grass Types for Austin

grass meadow

Life is good in Austin. Located in the heart of Hill Country in Central Texas, Austin is lucky enough to have a temperate (although sometimes balmy) climate almost year-round. But finding the right grass type to fit that climate can be harder than you think. Make it easy with our guide to the four best grass types for Austin lawns.

St. Augustinegrass

St. Augustinegrass
St. Augustinegrass
Photo Credit: Yercaud-elango / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

St. Augustine is probably the most popular type of grass in Austin and one of the best grasses for central Texas. It’s fast growing, and it is one of the most shade-tolerant (meaning if you’ve got a low or moderately shady backyard, this is a good option). St. Augustinegrass is also heat-tolerant and does well during Austin’s sweltering summers.

Some cons of St. Augustinegrass are that it requires a lot of maintenance, including four fertilizations per year and a lot of irrigation during hot weather. If you don’t mow frequently enough (should be weekly or so), then you’ll risk thatch buildup. Also, it is subject to fungal and pest problems.

The best time to plant St. Augustinegrass is in late spring or early summer, and you’ve got to do so with plugs or sod, as seed is not commercially available.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Stolons
  • Shade Tolerance: Moderate
  • Drought Tolerance: Moderate
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: Low to moderate
  • Maintenance Needs: Moderate; regular fertilizing, mowing, and irrigation during summer; chinch bugs can be problematic
  • Mowing Height: 2.5-3.5 inches
  • Potential for Disease: Moderate to high; susceptible to fungal disease

Zoysiagrass

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

Zoysiagrass is absolutely beautiful. But it’s also expensive. Zoysia produces a thick turf and is somewhat shade tolerant like St. Augustine. In addition to being good-looking, Zoysiagrass has great wear resistance. It also grows more slowly than St Augustine, which means you’ll have to mow less often.

However, Zoysiagrass takes a long time to establish (one to three seasons) and is slow to recover from damage. On the bright side, it doesn’t require much fertilization, but some cultivars have lower drought tolerance, which you may want to consider with the past few summers we’ve had in Austin.

If you decide to go with Zoysiagrass, it’s recommended that you consult a lawn care professional. It’s a tough one to maintain, but if done well, Zoysiagrass is magnificent and will surely bring on neighborhood envy.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Rhizomes and stolons
  • Shade Tolerance: Low to moderate
  • Drought Tolerance: Moderate; coarser-textured species are more drought tolerant than those that are fine-textured. Certain cultivars are highly drought tolerant.
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: High; slow to recover 
  • Maintenance Needs: Moderate
  • Mowing Height: 1-2 inches
  • Potential for Disease: Low

Bermudagrass

green bermuda grass
Bermudagrass
Photo Credit: rovenimages.com / Pexels

Bermudagrass, divided into improved Bermudagrass and common Bermudagrass, is also a very common grass type in Austin and one of the most common in the South. It’s a turf that is well-suited for Central Texas’s warm climate, though it does need to be irrigated quite frequently.

It’s a stunning grass plant, and though it’s mostly used on football fields and golf courses, tons of Texas homeowners have it, too. Benefits of Bermudagrass, outside of its beauty, include its rugged resilience and disease resistance and quick rate of establishment. 

One caveat: If you go with improved Bermudagrass, be prepared for a rigorous maintenance schedule. You’ll likely be fertilizing about once a month during the summer, mowing more than once per week on average, and irrigating pretty frequently. 

Got shade? Bermudagrass is not the grass for your lawn. This grass must have full sun. Like all warm-season grasses, the best time to plant Bermudagrass is in the spring or early summer.

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads by: Rhizomes and stolons
  • Shade Tolerance: Low
  • Drought Tolerance: High
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: High
  • Maintenance Needs: High; frequent fertilizing and mowing
  • Mowing Height: 1-2 inches
  • Potential for Disease: Low

Ryegrass

 Perennial Ryegrass
Ryegrass
Photo Credit: Dr Mary Gillham Archive Project / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Ryegrass is a cool-season grass that is primarily used as a temporary “green-up” lawn for overseeding (or re-seeding) Austin lawns during the fall/winter. When used this way, throughout a colder and dry winter, your lawn can remain vibrant and green. It can also be used as a temporary erosion control tool.

There are two types of ryegrass — annual and perennial. But don’t expect either to stick around. Except in the northern part of the state, in the High Plains, ryegrass won’t hold up year-round in the Texas heat.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type
  • Shade Tolerance: High
  • Drought Tolerance: Low
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: High
  • Maintenance Needs: Moderate; frequent mowing
  • Mowing Height: Mowing heights will depend on the warm-season grass you’re overseeding
  • Potential for Disease: Low

Note: While buffalograss is a Texas native grass commonly known for its drought-resistance, for Austin lawns, it is less suitable than the others on this list. With rainfall in Austin averaging 35.5 inches per year, the climate in East Texas is not suited for this particular grass.

How to Choose the Best Grass Type for Your Austin Lawn

High-Maintenance vs. Low-Maintenance Grasses

Lawn maintenance shouldn’t be an afterthought when choosing a grass type. How often are you willing to work on your lawn’s health? High-maintenance grasses require the most work and time, while low-maintenance grasses require the least frequent fertilization, irrigation, and mowing.

High-maintenance grasses: Bermudagrass

Moderate-maintenance grasses: St. Augustinegrass, Zoysiagrass, ryegrass

Drought Tolerance

Texas heat is a known grass killer. Some grasses are better suited for the heat and droughts that are common in Austin. When there are weeks with limited or no rainfall, drought-tolerant grasses can save you water and time as you work around the dry conditions.

High drought tolerance: Bermudagrass

Moderate drought tolerance: St. Augustinegrass, Zoysiagrass

Low drought tolerance: Ryegrass

Shade Tolerance

The best grass to grow in Austin, TX, might not be the best grass to grow on your lawn. How much shade your yard gets is something else to have in mind before you pick a grass type.

High shade tolerance: Ryegrass

Moderate shade tolerance: St. Augustinegrass 

Low shade tolerance: Bermudagrass, Zoysiagrass (low to moderate)

When to Bring in the Professionals

When picking a grass type in Austin, it all depends on what you’re looking for — aesthetically, maintenance-wise, and practically. If you’re looking for a high-speed track to a beautiful lawn, call a local lawn care service in Austin, Round Rock, Pflugerville, and the surrounding area.

Main Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay

Avatar

Alex Birkett

Alex Birkett is marketer and writer. Aside from mowing lawns, he loves snowboarding, eating sushi, and lifting heavy weights. He moved to Austin, TX after graduating from the University of Wisconsin.