Best Grass Seed for Virginia

image of a lawn in virginia

Virginia is known for its historical sites, from Colonial times to the Revolutionary War to the Civil War and beyond, and you need a grass, or grasses, with a history of success in the Commonwealth. We’re willing and ready to help you find the best grass seed for Virginia.

Most of Virginia is in the transition zone, with the southern Tidewater region being the exception. But Old Dominion also has mountains and valleys and very cold and very hot weather. And that means it’s difficult to choose grass for your lawn. Let us give you all the history to help you revolutionize your lawn:

For an overview of these grasses, skip ahead to learn how to choose the best grass type for your Virginia lawn.

Warm-Season Grasses

Warm Season Growth

Heat and drought-tolerant, warm-season grasses prefer temperatures of 80-95 degrees F. They lose their green color for 3-5 months in the winter, depending on their location. They are typically not sensitive to extreme summer temperatures and use less water than cool-season grasses. Pests are rarely a problem.

Warm-season grasses work best in the Tidewater and Central (or Piedmont) regions of Virginia.


Bermuda Grass
Photo Credit: Matt Levin / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

In the winter and in severe drought, high-maintenance Bermudagrass enters dormancy, but in warmer temperatures, it turns light to dark green. To help maintain a year-round green lawn, it can be overseeded in the autumn with ryegrass. 

Its ability to withstand heavy traffic has made Bermudagrass a popular choice for sports fields. And because Bermudagrass has a high salt tolerance, it’s a good choice for the Tidewater region and areas buffeted by hurricane-force winds.

Classification: Warm-season grass

Spreads by: Stolons and rhizomes

Shade tolerance: Low; thrives in full sun

Drought tolerance: High 

Foot traffic tolerance: High 

Maintenance needs: Needs frequent mowing due to fast growth rate; develops thatch easily; needs regular fertilization 

Mowing height: Set the mowing height between 0.5 and 1.5 inches for hybrid Bermudagrass cultivars. Mow common Bermudagrass down to 1.5 to 2.5 inches.

Potential for disease: Good resistance to disease, although diseases are common; low resistance to insects

Soil pH: 6-6.5

Soil type: Tolerates most soil types

Other notes: Also called couchgrass, devilgrass, wiregrass, or dogtooth grass, Bermudagrass is considered a weed by some.

Grass Seed Options:
Pennington Bermudagrass Bare Spot (5 lb. bag)
Pennington Smart Seed Bermudagrass Mix (8.75-lb. bag)
Scotts Turf Builder Bermudagrass (10-lb. bag)
Hancock Seed Co. Bermudagrass (50-lb. bag)


Photo credit: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Introduced into the United States in 1916, centipedegrass has an apple-green color. Best suited for the Tidewater region of Virginia, it can also work in some other parts of the state but does not do well in harsh winter conditions.

In the condition called centipedegrass decline, a lawn that previously did well won’t turn green and ultimately dies. Anything from poor cultural management to pests and diseases can cause this decline, so be on the lookout for it if you plant this grass.

Classification: Warm-season grass

Spreads by: Stolons

Shade tolerance: Moderate 

Drought tolerance: Moderate

Foot traffic tolerance: Low

Maintenance needs: Low

Mowing height: Set the mowing height between 1 and 2 inches.

Potential for disease: Good resistance to diseases and insects

Soil pH: 5-6

Soil type: Acidic soil, infertile, at least moderately good drainage (very dense, clay soils produce poor results)

Other notes: Centipedegrass doesn’t need mowing as much as Bermudagrass or St. Augustinegrass, and it’s often referred to as “lazy man’s grass” due to its low maintenance requirements.

Grass Seed Options:
Gulf Kist Coated Centipedegrass Seeds (1 lb.)
Scotts EZ Seed Patch and Repair Centipedegrass (3.75 lbs.)
TifBlair Centipedegrass (5-lb. bag)
Pennington Centipedegrass and Mulch (5-lb. bag)

St. Augustinegrass

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

Adapted only to the Tidewater region, St. Augustinegrass has a medium- to dark-green color. It grows fast and is drought resistant. St. Augustinegrass has more problems with insects and diseases than other warm-season grasses, but its thick, grassy carpet makes it a favorite.

Classification: Warm-season grass

Spreads by: Stolons

Shade tolerance: Moderate. It is the most shade-tolerant warm-season grass. 

Drought tolerance: Moderate to high

Foot traffic tolerance: Low

Maintenance needs: Needs frequent mowing due to fast growth rate; develops thatch easily; needs regular fertilization. 

Mowing height: Set the mowing height between 3.5 and 4 inches. 

Potential for disease: Moderate to high 

Soil pH: 6-7.5

Soil type: Tolerates many soil types; prefers moderately fertile and moist (not waterlogged) soils; doesn’t tolerate soil compaction

Other notes: St. Augustinegrass becomes established almost exclusively by sod or plugs.

Grass Plug Options:
Seed Ranch St. Augustine Seville Grass Plugs (2 Trays)
Seed Ranch St. Augustine Floratam Grass Plugs (2 Trays)


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

Although more expensive than the other warm-season grasses, Zoysiagrass produces a very high-quality lawn if well maintained. Drought-tolerant, it doesn’t need to be mowed as frequently as other warm-season grasses due to its slow rate of growth. 

Zoysiagrass is popular in coastal areas, including Virginia’s Tidewater, but it can sometimes survive winters in other parts of the state. It is the warm-season turfgrass with the most cold tolerance. Meyer and Zeon are the current favorite cultivars.

Classification: Warm-season grass

Spreads by: Stolons and rhizomes

Shade tolerance: Moderate

Drought tolerance: Moderate to high

Foot traffic tolerance: High, but recovers slowly from damage

Maintenance needs: Low nitrogen fertilization requirements, although, it’s prone to thatch build-up. 

Mowing height: Set mowing height between 1 and 2 inches.

Potential for disease: Good disease tolerance overall

Soil pH: 6-6.5

Soil type: Well-draining, some cultivars are more tolerant of a wide range of soils than others.

Other notes: Zoysiagrass turns the color of straw after the first hard frost but will green up in spring. 

Grass Plug and Seed Options:
Zoysia Plugs (50 Large Grass Plugs)
Zoysia Plugs (50 Full & Lush Grass Plugs)
Zoysia Plugs (100 Plugs)
Zoysia Emerald Grass Seeds (1/8 lb. of seeds)
Zenith Zenith Grass Seeds (1/8 lb. of seeds)

Seashore Paspalum

A close up of a beautiful seashore paspalum
Seashore paspalum
Photo Credit: Forest & Kim Starr / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

Also called sand knotgrass or saltwater couch grass, seashore paspalum has been used for public grounds, parks, golf courses, and athletic fields. Be careful with the herbicides, though; seashore paspalum grass has demonstrated sensitivity to many of them. 

A high salt tolerance makes seashore paspalum a promising turfgrass for areas in the Tidewater. This light- to medium-green grass needs non-saline water for establishment, but, once established, it can be irrigated with brackish water. It does not tolerate drought as well as Bermudagrass. 

Classification: Warm-season grass

Spreads by: Rhizomes and stolons

Shade Tolerance: Low to moderate

Drought Tolerance: Moderate

Foot Traffic Tolerance: Moderate

Maintenance Needs: Moderate fertilizer and frequent mowing. 

Mowing Height: Set the mowing height between 1 and 2 inches.

Potential for Disease: Moderate. Common diseases include large patch and dollar spot. 

Soil pH: Tolerates a wide soil pH range, from 3.6 to 10.2

Soil Type: Tolerates a wide range of soils, including wet, saline soil. 

Other Notes: Seashore paspalum can be very difficult to mow.

Grass Seed and Sod Options:
Seed Ranch SeaShore Paspalum Coated Grass Seed – 1 lb.
Seed World SeaShore Paspalum Grass Seeds (various amounts)
– Other places to purchase seashore paspalum sod

Cool-Season Grasses

Cool Season Growth

Cool-season grasses start growing in the spring, decline during the summer, and then become revitalized in the autumn, so they’re best planted during the fall season. They like temperatures of 60-75 degrees F. These cool-season grasses are best grown in southwest Virginia, the Shenandoah Valley, and northern Virginia. 

Fine Fescue

Close up image of fescue grass with a hand on it
Fine Fescue
Aaron J. Patton, Ph.D. / Turfgrass Extension Specialist at Purdue University

Used in home lawns, commercial properties, golf courses, and parks, fine fescue is the best grass for full and partial sun in the Valley and Ridge areas of Virginia and shade-only conditions in northern Piedmont.

Virginia homeowners use only creeping red, hard, and chewings fescues in their lawns. These grasses result in low-maintenance yards but have poor traffic tolerance. They can be mixed with Kentucky bluegrass in sun/shade seed blends.

Classification: Cool-season grass

Spreads by: Creeping red fescue spreads by rhizomes, whereas other fine fescues are bunch-type grasses, such as chewings, hard, and sheep fescues. 

Shade tolerance: Moderate to high, depending on the species

Drought tolerance: Moderate to high, depending on the species

Foot traffic tolerance: Low to moderate, depending on the species

Maintenance needs: Low fertilizer and mowing needs

Mowing height: Set mowing height between 2.5 and 4 inches, depending on species. 

Potential for disease: Moderate. Common diseases include red thread, leaf spot, dollar spot, summer patch, and powdery mildew. 

Soil pH: 6-6.5

Soil type: Will not perform well in wet soil conditions. Prefers drier soils and tolerates a wide range of soil types and fertility. 

Other notes: Fine fescue is considered low maintenance because it grows slowly, has good drought tolerance, requires less fertilizer, and doesn’t need a lot of pesticide applications.

Grass Seed Options:

Outsidepride Legacy Fine Fescue Grass Seed (5 lbs.)
Eretz Creeping Red Fine Fescue Seed (choose your size)
Outsidepride Creeping Red Fine Fescue Grass Seed (25 lbs.)
Outsidepride Hard Fine Fescue Grass Seed (10 lbs.)

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky Bluegrass
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Native to Europe, northern Asia, Algeria, and Morocco and brought to the United States by the colonists, Kentucky bluegrass has exceptional tolerance to cold but goes dormant in the late summer and dry periods. This full-sun turfgrass does poorly when it receives less than 6 hours of full sun per day.

A dark-green color, this cool-season grass is well adapted to the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge regions, as well as northern Piedmont. Usually mixed with other cool-season grasses, Kentucky bluegrass is often confused with tall fescue and/or perennial ryegrass.

Classification: Cool-season grass

Spreads by: Rhizomes

Shade tolerance: Low

Drought tolerance: Moderate

Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate

Maintenance needs: Moderate mowing frequency and high fertilization needs. 

Mowing height: Set mowing height between 2.5 and 3.5 inches. 

Potential for disease: Moderate to high; prone to several diseases, such as dollar spot, leaf spot, necrotic ring spot, summer patch, and stripe smut. 

Soil pH: 6-7.5

Soil type: Performs best in well-drained, heavy soils with high fertility. 

Other notes: Kentucky bluegrass grows well in regions where the average summer temperature stays below 75 degrees F. 

Grass Seed Options:

Jonathan Green (11970) Blue Panther Kentucky Bluegrass Grass Seed (3 lbs.)
SeedRanch Midnight Kentucky Bluegrass Seed (5 lbs.)
Jacklin Seed – Biltmore Blue Blend – 100% Kentucky Bluegrass (5 lbs.)

Perennial Ryegrass

Close up image of perennial ryegrass
Perennial Ryegrass
Photo Credit: Dr Mary Gillham Archive Project / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Dark green and quick to germinate, perennial ryegrass creates a dense lawn and doesn’t like heat and drought. Once out of favor because of its propensity for disease, ryegrass’ newer, more disease-resistant cultivars have become popular again in Virginia. 

Ryegrass can be planted by itself above 2,000 feet in the Valley and Ridge and used in seed mixes with Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescue in the rest of the mountainous regions and northern Piedmont. It is grown as a winter annual in the southern Piedmont and Tidewater and is most often used for winter overseeding of warm-season grasses.

Classification: Cool-season grass

Spreads by: Has a bunch-type growth habit

Shade tolerance: Low

Drought tolerance: Low

Foot traffic tolerance: High

Maintenance needs: Moderate mowing and fertilization requirements. Thatch is not significant. 

Mowing height: Set mowing height to 1.5 to 2.5 inches

Potential for disease: High. Common diseases include gray leaf spot, red thread, and leaf spot/melting-out. 

Soil pH: Can grow in soils with a pH between 5 and 8 but prefers between 6 and 7. 

Soil type: Prefers good drainage and fertility but can tolerate some poor drainage. 

Other notes: Perennial ryegrass is often mixed with Kentucky bluegrass for quick germination, diversity, and color.

Grass Seed Options:

Outsidepride Perennial Ryegrass Seed (5 lbs.)
Eretz ProTurf Perennial Ryegrass Fine Lawn Seed (choose your size)

Turf-Type Tall Fescue

tall fescue
Tall Fescue
Aaron J. Patton, Ph.D. / Turfgrass Extension Specialist at Purdue University

Originating in Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and northern and central Asia, tall fescue cultivars have the deepest root systems of any cool-season grass, which help them resist drought conditions. Homeowners need to overseed this grass every few years to repair bare spots and thinning.

Tall fescue grass has adapted to the Valley, Ridge, and Piedmont regions, although it has only marginally adapted to the Tidewater. According to Virginia Tech, tall fescue is “by far the most prevalent lawn grass in terms of acreage in Virginia because it is simply a very hardy, very durable grass.”

Classification: Cool-season grass

Spreads by: Produces short rhizomes but has a bunch-type growth habit

Shade tolerance: Moderate

Drought tolerance: Moderate to high

Foot traffic tolerance: Moderate

Maintenance needs: Frequent mowing. Does not produce significant thatch. 

Mowing height: Set mowing height to 2 inches when the grass reaches 3 inches tall.

Potential for disease: Tolerant of most diseases when properly maintained. 

Soil pH: 5.5-6.5

Soil type: Adapted to a wide range of soil conditions but prefers fertile clay soils with good drainage. 

Other notes: The cultivar for lawns used to be Kentucky-31; however, newer, “turf-type” cultivars of tall fescue have a finer texture, provide a darker green color, and tolerate shaded areas better.

Grass Seed Options:

Triple-Play Tall Fescue Grass Seed Blend (5000 sq ft)
Eretz Kentucky 31 K31 Tall Fescue Grass Seed (choose your size)
Pennington The Rebels Tall Fescue Grass Seed Mix (7 lb.)

Best Grass Seed for Tidewater Virginia

Several warm-season grasses are appropriate for the Tidewater region of Virginia. These grasses like temperatures from 80-95 degrees F and go dormant for 3-5 months in the winter. 

Bermudagrass, Zoysiagrass, and seashore paspalum can be grown among the large lands along the Atlantic and Chesapeake Bay. But the best grasses for this area consist of slow-growing centipedegrass and fast-growing St. Augustinegrass. This is especially true in the southeast corner, which includes Virginia Beach and its surrounds.

Best Grass Seed for Central Virginia

Central Virginia consists of the Piedmont region of the state and its many trails, especially in the National Battlefield Parks. This area has cold winters and hot summers that make deciding between cool-and warm-season turf grasses a challenge. 

The Piedmont Master Gardeners consider Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue the best cool-season grasses and Zoysiagrass and Bermudagrass the best warm-season turfgrasses for Central Virginia.

Best Grass Seed for Northern Virginia

Cool-season grasses are best for Northern Virginia, with its proximity to Washington, D.C., and all its attractions. These grasses like temperatures of 60-75 degrees F, but their growth season slows during early summers. Most lawns in this area have a seed mix of Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and/or fine fescues.

Note: Tall fescue is sometimes sodded in a 90/10 mix (by weight) with Kentucky bluegrass. It is not often mixed with other grasses due to a lack of uniformity in appearance.

Best Grass Seed for Western Virginia

Western Virginia includes the Valley and Ridge region and the Appalachian Plateau in the far west. It is, in a word, mountainous. So it shouldn’t be any surprise that the cool-season grasses grow best here. But which one?

There’s not just one, unfortunately. Virginia Tech suggests a mix of cool-season turfgrasses. They say to select mixtures with Kentucky bluegrass and/or perennial ryegrass for the sunny areas of your yard and the fine-leaf fescues for the shady ones. Turf-type tall fescue is another option for the western region of Virginia.

How to Choose the Best Grass Type for Your Virginia Lawn

As George Washington wrote in 1780, “There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet an enemy.” Have you been fighting with your grass? Has it been your enemy? We’re here to help you determine how to analyze your enemy so that you can grow a new and prosperous lawn.

Shade Tolerance

For your lawn, you want a match shade in heaven. If you have trees, you’ll want the best possible shade grass for the grass under them. Here’s your guide for choosing the best shade grass.

Low shade tolerance: Bermudagrass, seashore paspalum, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass

Moderate shade tolerance: Centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass, Zoysiagrass, tall fescue

High shade tolerance: Fine fescue

Drought Tolerance

Give a shout-out for drought resistance. There are places in Virginia that become very hot in summer, and for these places, where the weather can become scorching, you’ll want a drought-hardy grass.

Low drought tolerance: Perennial ryegrass

Moderate drought tolerance: St. Augustinegrass, Zoysiagrass, seashore paspalum, Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, centipedegrass

High drought tolerance: Bermudagrass, fine fescue

Foot Traffic Tolerance

If you, your kids, or your pets have a history of playing outdoors, you’ll need a grass with high traffic tolerance. And you’ll need to know which grasses have a low or high tolerance for your type of lawn traffic.

Low traffic tolerance: Centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass, fine fescue

Moderate traffic tolerance: Seashore paspalum, Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue

High traffic tolerance: Bermudagrass, Zoysiagrass, perennial ryegrass

Maintenance Needs

When Patrick Henry famously said, “Give me liberty, or give me death,” he wasn’t talking about his grass. But you might be. If you’d rather be at liberty to spend your time at the beach, in the mountains, or at all of the historical sites, you’ll need low-maintenance grass.

Low maintenance needs: Centipedegrass, fine fescue

Moderate maintenance needs: Zoysiagrass, seashore paspalum, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue

High maintenance needs: Bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass, Kentucky bluegrass

Call the Pros

Whether you’d rather lounge on the Atlantic Coast beaches, visit the battlefields in Central Virginia and Northern Virginia, or hike the mountains in Western Virginia, your lawn is going to eventually need care.

You can DIY it or call in a Virginia lawn care professional near you. We have trusted lawn care pros in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Arlington, Richmond, Newport News, Alexandria, and all across the state.

Additional sources:


Piedmont Master Gardeners

Main Image Credit: Shutterstock

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Pat Joiner

Pat Joiner

Pat Joiner has been working with words for 35+ years, if you don’t count college. In fact, playing with words is her greatest passion. Pat lives in her little condo in Texas, grows plants in the little patches of dirt in her little backyard, and has two adorable cats named Mona and da Vinci.