Selecting Grass for Your Landscape

The lawn is the most dominant feature of the American home landscape. Most people have lawns to some degree. The lawn may have a flowerbed located in its middle, or it may be reduced in size by a patio, but it is, for the most part, ever present.

Not just any sod or grass seed will work everywhere. It is important when you begin designing and building your landscape that you choose grass that will thrive and that is likely to succeed. It is also very important to select grass that answers your ideas of maintenance.


Before you select your grass, however, it is important to decide were you will put it. Practical consideration of how to efficiently water the lawn and care for it is part of the determination as to whether or not your turf will survive. It is not a particularly sound practice to seed or lay sod in long, narrow strips of landscape.

Grass is much better in larger square areas. Odd shaped areas of grass may not receive the water they need (it can be going other places, like onto the driveway or in the lower garden, especially with sprinkler irrigation), while large blocky areas are easier to water and easier to mow. Take this into account even before you select the grass for your landscape.


When it is time for you to select your grass, think about the requirements that the region in which you live and that your soil will impose upon your grass. Make sure that you have a soil analysis to determine the characteristics of your soil. You want to choose a grass that will thrive in that soil.

If the soil is especially bad, you can usually add some sort of amendment to help the soil do better. However, you can increase your chances by choosing sod or seed that will be compatible with your area and with the condition of your soil.

You should also select grasses that fit with your climate. If you live in a hot climate, Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass may be a good choice. Many people like Kentucky blue grass, but fail to realize that this type of grass does not do especially well in times of drought.

If you live in a semi-arid region, then zoysia grass, buffalo grass and centipede grass are very promising choices. These types of grass do not need as much water, and are hardy and great ways to increase the efficiency of a xeriscape by conserving water.

Choosing ornamental grasses can also be important for your landscape. Ornamental grasses are not grasses that are meant to be used as a lawn. These grasses usually grow taller and have distinctive looks.

When selecting ornamental grasses to add beauty to the yard, you should take into consideration things like the location of the grasses in your landscape, the colors and textures of the grasses you are using, and whether or not they are compatible with the growing conditions and climate in your area. The advantages of using ornamental grasses in your landscape include the facts that they are low maintenance and that they often conserve water.

How Big?

In addition to thinking of location (some grasses do well in drier soils in full sun while others require moist soil) and climate when selecting your ornamental grasses, it is also important to approach your choice with a sense of scale. Know how big the grasses will grow.

Willows and other large grasses would not do in a small area. And, if you have a large area, you might consider planting fewer different types of grass plants, but more of the types you do use. The attraction of ornamental grasses planted in large groups is that the grasses grow up to be large patches of color or texture, and can contrast nicely with other portions of the landscape.

Grasses are very important parts of the landscape. Whether you are using sod or seed to plant a beautiful lawn, or whether you are looking for ornamental grasses to be part of your landscape (or both!), you need to consider your grass selections beforehand. When you take into account what has the most chance of success in your landscape, and what would look the best as part of your design, then you end up with a superior looking yard.