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Grass Types by Zones

Majestic sunset seen in late spring, showing a recently cut and well maintained large lawn in a rural location.
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Lawn grasses are categorized into three different groups, including cool season, warm season and transition. The grass types contained in each group have their own climate preferences and growing abilities according to temperatures. The U.S. Department of Agriculture divides the United States into 11 different plant hardiness zones, based on each zone’s minimum annual temperatures. The zones range from the coldest region (zone 1) to the hottest (zone 11) with 10-degree temperature increments separating each zone from the next one. These zones are not the same as indicated on some "grass zone maps," which is important to know when choosing a turfgrass.

Best Grass Types by USDA Plant Hardiness Zones

Zones 1 and 2 Bluegrasses are marginally hardy

Zone 3

Kentucky bluegrass

Rough bluegrass

Blue gramma grass

Creeping bentgrass

Fine fescue

Creeping red fescue

Chewing's fescue

Zone 4

Kentucky bluegrass

Rough bluegrass

Blue gramma grass

Creeping bentgrass

Fine fescue

Creeping red fescue

Chewing's fescue

Tall fescue

Buffalograss

Timothy grass

Zones 5 and 6

Kentucky bluegrass

Rough bluegrass

Blue gramma grass

Creeping bentgrass

Fine fescue

Creeping red fescue

Chewing's fescue

Tall fescue

Buffalograss

Timothy grass

Perennial ryegrass

Zoysia (some not hardy in upper reaches of zone 5)

Zone 7

Kentucky bluegrass

Rough bluegrass

Blue gramma grass

Fine fescue

Creeping red fescue

Chewing's fescue

Tall fescue

Buffalograss

Timothy grass

Perennial ryegrass

Zoysia

Bahiagrass

Bermudagrass

Centipedegrass

Zone 8

Blue gramma grass

Buffalograss

Timothy grass

Zoysia

Bahiagrass

Bermudagrass

Centipedegrass

St. Augustine grass

Zones 9 and 10

Blue gramma grass

Bahiagrass

Bermudagrass

St. Augustine grass

Zoysia grass

Zone 11

Bahiagrass

USDA Zones 1 and 2

USDA hardiness zones 1 and 2 represent the coldest zones in the United States, with minimum winter temperatures falling below -45 degrees Fahrenheit. These zones are found throughout Alaska where growing perennial turfgrasses is challenging, since Zone 3 typically is the coldest zone that supports perennial turfgrasses; however, many cold-tolerant grasses can be grown as annuals.

Two species of bluegrass are winter-hardy to zone 3, which means that they may also survive winters in certain microclimates across zones 1 and 2. Both Kentucky bluegrass (​Poa pratensis​) and rough bluegrass (​Poa trivialis​) are perennials in zones 3 through 7.

In addition, three species of fescue are winter-hardy to zone 3, which means they may also survive the winters across some microclimates in zones 1 and 2: fine fescue (​Festuca​ spp.) Chewing's fescue (​Festuca rubra​ subsp. ​commutata​) and creeping red fescue (​Festuca rubra​) are perennials in zones 3 through 7. Grow these turfgrasses as annuals in zones 1 and 2 where they do not survive the winter.

USDA Zone 3

USDA zone 3 (minimum temperatures of -30 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit) includes small northernmost portions of Maine, Vermont, New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Montana, as well as most of North Dakota and small, high-elevation parts of Wyoming, Colorado and Idaho. The best lawn grass types for zone 3 are the ones noted above for zones 1 and 2. Other options include blue gramma grass (​Bouteloua gracilis​, zones 3-10) and creeping bentgrass (​Agrostis palustris​, zones 3-6)

USDA Zone 4

USDA Hardiness Zone 4 (-20 to -30 degrees Fahrenheit) encompasses the middle regions of Maine and New York, most of New Hampshire, Vermont, Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana and Wisconsin, the northern half of Iowa and Nebraska, the northernmost tip of Michigan, large parts of Colorado and Idaho, as well as small mountainous areas of New Mexico, Nevada and Oregon.

Grass types that grow well in Zone 4 include the ones noted above for zones 1 through 3 plus cool-season buffalo grass (​Bouteloua dactyloides​, zones 4-8), tall fescue (​Lolium arundinaceum​, zones 4-7) and timothy grass (​Phleum pratense​, zones 4-8). Even though timothy grass is grown as a forage crop, it's also a good lawn grass. The USDA notes that timothy can withstand being encased in ice, which makes it particularly winter-hardy.

USDA Zones 5 and 6

USDA zones 5 and 6 (0 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit) include the southern parts of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Michigan, Iowa and Nebraska, the lower-elevation portions of Colorado, most of inland Washington and Oregon, most of Nevada and Utah, northern Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and Virginia, as well as all of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Added to the aforementioned grasses that are winter-hardy in colder zones, the best lawn grasses for zones 5 and 6 include perennial ryegrass (​Lolium perenne​, zones 5-7) and zoysia grass (​Zoysia​ spp., zones 5-7). The only caveat is that some zoysia grasses aren't appropriate for the northernmost parts of Zone 5. Unlike the other grasses, zoysia grass is a warm-season species that is medium- to fine-textured and high-maintenance.

USDA Zone 7

Zone 7 (0 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit) includes most of Virginia and North Carolina, southern parts of Tennessee, Oklahoma and New Mexico, northern South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas, as well as small areas of Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington.

With the exception of creeping bentgrass, all the other aforementioned grasses grow well in zone 7, in addition to bahiagrass (​Paspalum notatum​, zones 7-11), bermudagrass (​Cynodon dactylon​, zones 7-10) and centipedegrass (​Eremochloa ophiuroides​, zones 7-9). Centipede and bahia grasses are coarse-textured and create low-maintenance lawns, while many types of bermudagrass are fine-textured with a moderate maintenance level.

USDA Zone 8

USDA Hardiness Zone 8 (10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit) includes coastal North Carolina, central to southern South Carolina, New Mexico, Washington and Oregon, southern Nevada, Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Texas, most of Louisiana, northern Florida, as well as many parts of California.

With the exception of creeping bentgrass, bluegrass, fescue and perennial ryegrass, all the other aforementioned grasses grow well in zone 8, in addition to St. Augustine grass (​Stenotaphrum secundatum​, zones 8-10). St. Augustine grass is coarse, with the exception of some cultivars that have a finer texture, and it has a moderate care level. Typically, St. Augustine grass is grown from sod, not seed.

USDA Zones 9 and 10

Zones 9 and 10 (20 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit) include most of California, southern Arizona, the southernmost parts of Texas and Louisiana, most of Florida, as well as parts of Hawaii.

The best lawn grasses for these zones are blue gramma grass, bahiagrass, bermudagrass, St. Augustine grass and zoysia grass.

USDA Zone 11

Zone 11 (40 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer) includes nearly all parts of the Hawaiian islands. The best lawn grass choices for Zone 11 are the bahiagrasses. The Clemson Cooperative Extension describes bahiagrass as a mat-forming, coarse-textured grass. It's particularly well-suited to the tropical climate in zone 11 because it is native to South America.

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