Which Kinds of Grasses Survive the Heat Best?

Sunlit healthy green lawn.

If you live in a warm climate, you probably understand the importance of selecting a warm-season grass. Unlike their cool-season counterparts, warm-season grass thrives in the heat. In fact, their peak growing season is the middle of summer when temperatures are at their highest. Many, but not all, warm-season grasses are drought tolerant, meaning they can survive periods of high heat and little water. If you’re looking for grass that can endure harsh summer conditions, look for cultivated varieties within hardy warm-season species bred specifically to tolerate heat and drought.

Bermuda Grass

This popular type of grass is grown throughout North America. Varieties bred to grow in the south are the most drought tolerant. Bermuda grass loves the sun, withstands high traffic and reacts quickly to watering after a dry spell. During the growing season, Bermuda grass requires frequent mowing. It goes dormant in warm winter climates, at which time you can overseed with ryegrass to maintain a green lawn all winter long.

The most drought and heat tolerant cultivated varieties of this species include:

  • Common Bermuda
  • Celebration
  • GN1
  • Grimes EXP
  • TexTurf
  • TifSport
  • Tifway 419

St. Augustine Grass

This coarse-leaf grass is the most popular variety in Florida. Homeowners in the Gulf Coast, Africa and Pacific Islands also praise it for its heat tolerance. St. Augustine grass prefers dappled shade and withstands moderate traffic. It remains green throughout winter dormancy without much water. In fact, this species is susceptible to disease if you overwater during winter, so save time and money and avoid watering St. Augustine grass while it’s dormant.

The most drought and heat tolerant cultivated variety of this species is Floratam.

Zoysia Grass

This slow-growing grass provides a lush, green carpet of turf once it’s fully established. You don’t have to mow or water Zoysia grass often, cutting down on maintenance time and costs. This grass tolerates both sun and shade and stands up well to foot traffic.

The most drought and heat tolerant cultivated varieties of this species include:

  • El Toro
  • Empire
  • Jamur
  • Palisdaes

Buffalo Grass

Native to the Midwest, Buffalo grass requires full sun and very little, if any, water once fully established. The name stems from the history of this grass, which grows naturally across the plains from Mexico to Montana. It once fed herds of buffalo as they roamed these areas. Keep in mind that Buffalo grass doesn’t tolerate foot traffic well and must be kept 13 centimetres or longer.

All varieties of this species are considered drought tolerant, but Legacy is a cultivated variety bred especially for this purpose.

Centipede Grass

Introduced to the US in 1916 from Southeast Asia, Centipede grass is a hardy, slow-growing grass that provides a low-maintenance lawn once fully established. It prefers full sun or partial shade, but its ability to survive in acidic soil makes it a popular choice for the dappled shady area under pine trees.

Bahia Grass

An all-purpose grass with excellent tolerance to foot traffic, Bahia grass resists pests and disease and grows impressively well in poor soil, though it requires full sun to thrive. This is a great heat-resistant grass because its prolific root system helps it find water deeper down than other grasses are capable of.

Remember, you can increase the drought and heat tolerance of any grass by watering infrequently but deeply, providing nutrient-rich soil, and keeping the grass a bit longer to shade the ground beneath it.

For help choosing the right type of warm-season grass for your yard, please contact The Grounds Guys. We can help your lawn look its very best all year round.

For Further Reading:

The Fight Against Crabgrass

Irrigation Repair To Prepare For Summer