A busy household with children, pets or just family members who like relaxing on the lawn means that high-traffic grass seed is essential for avoiding unsightly bare patches. Grass seed suppliers refer to grass varieties' ability to withstand traffic as their "wear tolerance," and many common lawn grasses have good wear tolerance, though some are better than others. For the best results, however, the grass type must also be suitable for other growing conditions, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone, levels of light or shade and the local climate, such as excessively wet or dry weather.
Grass seed for lawns in USDA zones 2 through 6 must tolerate freezing winter temperatures and heavy snow as well as high traffic. Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) and perennial rye grass (Lolium perenne) are two grass types that grow well in cold zones and have good wear tolerance. A dark green, medium-textured grass, Kentucky bluegrass is hardy in USDA zones 2 through 6. Perennial rye grass is hardy in USDA zones 3 through 6 and is a rich green, fine-textured grass.
Both Kentucky bluegrass and perennial rye grass grow best in full-sun lawns, which receive at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, though they tolerate partially shaded spots, which receive one or two hours less of sunlight. Neither grass type grows well in dry climates and both can be invasive.
In USDA zones 4 through 8, two grass seeds that provide good wear tolerance are tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) and zoysia grass (Zoysia spp.). Hardy in USDA zones 4 through 7, tall fescue is a dark green, coarse-textured grass. Zoysia grass is dark green, fine- or medium-textured and hardy in USDA zones 5 through 10 and has invasive qualities.
Both tall fescue and zoysia grass grow in partially shaded and full-sun lawns, and they tolerate drought. Zoysia grass has better wear tolerance than tall fescue.
Bermuda grass (Cynodon spp.) is a commonly grown high-traffic grass seed for warm zones, and seashore pascalum (Paspalum vaginatum) also has high wear tolerance. Thriving in high temperatures and full-sun lawns, Bermuda grass is gray-green and medium- or coarse-textured and can be invasive. Seashore pascalum is very tolerant of saltwater, and its dark green, shiny leaves are slightly wider than Bermuda grass leaves.
Bermuda grass and seashore pascalum are hardy in USDA zones 7 through 10.