The best looking lawn depends on not just proper management and care, like regular watering and fertilization, but also on selecting the right type of grass. Several commonly grown turfgrass species have different growing mannerisms and thrive in varying environments. Choose one that will grow well in your climate; your regional cooperative extension office (see Resources) can give you a list of hybrids or cultivars specifically bred for your area that will create a lush, dense lawn that will make your neighbors envious.
Zoysiagrass forms a dense, medium-textured lawn with a deep green hue. Homeowners prize this species for its low-maintenance nature--it has very few pests and is very drought-resistant, according to the University of California--and its low, dense growth. This grass does best in full sunlight but can handle some shade, though it may become thin in density and pale in appearance in insufficient light.
Landscapers like Kentucky bluegrass because of its ability to grow in the winter when most grass species enter dormancy and turn brown, according to Ohio State University. The lawn itself has a fine texture that's soft to the touch and can withstand foot traffic damage due to the grass's fast-growing nature, which makes it ideal for high-traffic areas like athletic fields. Depending on the specific cultivar, Kentucky bluegrass can grow in either shade or full sun.
Fine fescue, which includes hard fescue and creeping red fescue, is the best grass species for shady lawns, according to Cornell University. Most fescue varieties form bunches instead of spreading by underground rhizomes, and have a very fine texture with a dark green color. Cornell University recommends fine fescue for poor soil conditions, but warns that this slow-growing grass isn't ideal for high traffic areas because the grass can't withstand much damage.
Homeowners can choose from dozens of regional bermudagrass cultivars, most bred to make the grass more resistant to specific lawn diseases in an area. It thrives in sunny, hot and dry conditions, according to the University of California. The grass creates a dense, coarse gray-green lawn that grows so thick that weeds are rarely a problem. Bermudagrass lawns may need edging to keep this fast-growing species from invading nearby garden areas.
Gardeners often choose to plant perennial ryegrass for its exceptionally fast establishment rate. The ryegrass seeds sprout within 2 days and become a uniformly thick lawn in just 14 days, according to Cornell University. This fast growth means the grass can do well in areas with moderate traffic, but also creates a significant thatch buildup problem. The grass demands regular irrigation and very fertile soil, has many disease problems and requires full sun.