There are several grass types to choose from when selecting the right type of grass for a southern lawn. The southern United States experiences very hot and humid summers, and mild winters. Grasses used in the South have heat- and drought-tolerant properties and are well-adapted to soil conditions. Since lawns generally are not sustainable, taking care of a lawn in the South requires more maintenance than in cooler regions.
A perennial grass of the Poaceae or grass family, Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) grows in the South and throughout the United States. It forms very deep rooting systems, is moderately drought-tolerant, and grows well and rapidly in hot temperatures and full-sun exposure. It actively grows from spring to fall and can grow more than 1 foot when left uncut. Bermudagrass is widely used for turfs and recreation areas, for wildlife and livestock and in erosion control due to its deep roots.
Native to China and Southeast Asia and found throughout the southern states from Virginia to Florida and Texas, centipede grass (Eremochloa ophiuroides or Eremochloa Büse) is a low- and slow-growing perennial grass that actively grows from spring through fall, reaching less than 5 inches in height. Centipede grass grows in full sun to partial shade and is preferred for low-maintenance lawns.
St. Augustine Grass
Throughout the southern states and California, St. Augustine grass or Charleston grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is popular along with Bermudagrass for home lawns. It does well in moist, well-drained soils, especially along coasts, and in full sun and partially-shaded areas. It actively grows from summer through fall and reaches less than 11 inches in height when left uncut. St. Augustine grass is not the turf choice for high-traffic areas.
The deep root system of Zoysia grass helps it tolerate drought conditions very well, but the grass requires periodic watering. Originally from Asia, several Zoysia species are used in the southern states—Korean lawngrass (Zoysia japonica), manila grass (Zoysia matrella) and mascarene grass (Zoysia tenuifolia). Zoysia grasses exhibit invasive behavior in colder climates and do not do as well in those areas, as they lose their color faster than other grass types. In warmer climates, Zoysia does well in full sun and partial shade and grows from early spring through the fall. Zoysia grass is used for southern lawns, parks and golf courses.