By Gail Lopez
Your Georgia home is a source of pride and joy. Do your homework before choosing grass seed or sod for your property. Knowing what kinds of turf grows best in the Georgia climate is the start of a thick, green outdoor carpet.
Georgia’s diverse geography support both warm-season and cool-season grasses — just not in the same places. Warm-season varieties suited for the southern area of the state won’t survive in mountainous areas. Cool-season types, meanwhile, don’t stand much of a chance in heat and humidity of the Coastal Plain. Northern Georgia consists of the Appalachian Plateau, Valley and Ridge, and Blue Ridge. Central Georgia — the Piedmont region — has hills and red clay soils. The best grass seed and turf for your Georgia home depends on the region.
Hardy cool-season grasses are good choices for homes in the northern half of the state. Kentucky bluegrass, fine and tall fescues, and perennial ryegrass can handle temperatures below freezing.
If you’re living in the central or southern part of Georgia, chances are you have one or more of these warm-season grass seed blends in the yard. When reseeding or planting new sod, consider these varieties:
This grass thrives in shade or low sunlight and can handle a salty environment. St. Augustine has a dark green color and needs consistent watering during dry periods. Blades are easily damaged under heavy foot traffic.
With deep roots, this variety is drought-tolerant and has a coarse texture. Although it can handle limited amounts of shade, bahia grows best in full sunlight.
Handles heat and drought well and tolerates heavy foot traffic. Fast-growing, Bermudagrass needs a lot of sun. Mow at least twice a week during the growing season.
Disease-resistant and heat tolerant, buffalo grass is easy to maintain. It needs less mowing, watering, and fertilizing than most types.
Heath tolerant and suitable for high traffic areas, centipede grass is also low-maintenance and slow-growing. It does need reseeding once or twice a year. Centipede grass doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer but requires a more acidic soil than some other warm-season grass types.
Slow-growing and very tolerant of heat and drought, Zoysia grows thickly and is soft on bare feet. Zoysia grows best when it is between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
While soils in Georgia vary with the state’s topography, they tend to be acidic, with a pH of 5.8 to 6. If you want a low-maintenance lawn, testing the lawn’s soil every couple of years, especially before fertilizing in the fall, is a good way to keep tabs on its acidity. Adding lime in autumn allows grass roots to absorb nutrients in the winter.
That reddish tint you see in Georgia soils, called “Georgia red clay,” is made up of aluminum, silica, and iron. Based on soil testing, fertilizers with small amounts of phosphorus — or none at all — is recommended for lawns in Central Georgia. Look for mixtures of 15-0-15 NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium).
Organic fertilizers are good choices for all Georgia lawns. Natural composted materials such as grass clippings, fallen leaves, wood shreds, and animal manure won’t burn the grass. Organics take a little longer than chemical fertilizers to soak into the ground, but they build healthier soil and won’t damage nearby watersheds.
Choosing the best type of grass for your Georgia lawn is a labor of love, but the reward of a thick, green lawn is worth it.
Gail Lopez is a second-generation landscape designer whose family business designs yards with flair. Her things are beautiful plants, outdoor kitchens, and sprinklers powered by artificial intelligence.